The Shapeshifter

The Shapeshifter is a series of books by Ali Sparkes. The series follows the life of a boy named Dax Jones and is primarily set in England, firstly in the Cornwall area and later in the Lake District. During the first book, Finding the Fox, Dax discovers his ability to shapeshift into a fox, and is whisked away from his hated stepfamily by the government. Dax is one of a number of Colas (Children of Limitless Ability), young people who possess amazing supernatural powers. Some of his classmates are able to heal, move objects with their mind, communicate with the dead, or see into the future. These children attend a school called Tregarren College in Cornwall, which is later destroyed by a tidal wave, and the children move to Fenton Lodge, in the Lake District.

Series of books by Ali Sparkes
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The Shapeshifter

The Cover of Finding the Fox

Finding the Fox
Running the Risk
Going to Ground
Dowsing the Dead
Stirring the Storm


Author Ali Sparkes
Cover artist David Wyatt
Country United Kingdom
Genre Fantasy, Thriller
Publisher Oxford University Press
Published 2006–2008
Media type Print (Paperback)

. . . The Shapeshifter . . .

Main article: Finding the Fox

When Dax Jones discovers that he has the power to transform himself into a fox, a mysterious government official arrives and takes him to a secret school where Colas (Children of Limitless Ability) are trained. These children possess amazing abilities, such as telekinesis and healing. At this school, Dax soon makes friends, and feels more at home than he ever has before. But other, more sinister forces have taken an interest in these gifted children, and he soon finds himself in terrible danger. With nowhere else to turn, Dax must rely on his new friends to uncover the truth behind a chilling future that awaits them …

Dax is beginning to get used to his new life at Tregarren College, and has come to terms with his unusual ability to shapeshift into a fox. However, after a traumatic incident at his friend Lisa’s house, Dax’s world is about to be turned upside down. A surprise awaits him in the form of his friend Gideon’s long-lost brother and sister, and they aren’t the only things he has to worry about. Something is happening to the other COLAs, something that only he seems to see, and it’s getting worse. When he tries to warn his friends, they call him paranoid, leaving him to deal with the danger alone. What is really going on at Tregarren College?

Main article: Going to Ground

Following the events of Running the Risk, Dax and the other COLAs are sent home to recover. However, during this time off, Lisa experiences a vision which warns her that Gideon is in deadly peril. She and Dax attempt to rescue him, only to find that he is unharmed … at the moment. But strange and unexplainable electrical faults are taking place all over the country, and the government seem to think that Gideon’s powers are responsible. Now they will stop at nothing to find him and contain the threat they believe he poses. Dax, Gideon, Lisa and Mia set off across the country, using their skills like never before to outwit their pursuers, whilst also trying to uncover the real cause of these bizarre events and ultimately clear Gideon’s name.

The Shapeshifter series continues with Dax and his friends settling into their new sanctuary in the Lake District. The whole place has been fortified so that the COLAs won’t ever be under threat again. After dodging death once too often for his liking, Dax is looking forward to a quieter time: building a treehouse in the grounds, shifting into a fox or a falcon, and exploring the countryside. But all is not well in the spirit world – strange messages are coming through and Dax, Gideon, Lisa and Mia must once again join forces. Could the messages be coming from Luke and Catherine, Gideon’s dead brother and sister? And are they even truly dead? Of course, if they’re not, the friends have to somehow rescue Luke from Catherine’s evil clutches – the same Catherine that Dax barely defeated last time.

Dax and his friends are moved up the country in a bid to keep their identities a secret, but are the special forces who are transporting them their allies, or are the COLAs being used as pawns in a much bigger scheme? Once again it is Dax who is at the centre of things … and it’s him they want most of all. But who are ‘they’? And who’s the brains behind this master plan? Dax must save his friends from being sold as commodities to the highest bidder, and in the process find out where the children really came from and how they ended up with such extraordinary powers.

Feather and Fang was published in May 2016. It is intended to be read after the Unleashed series. After the events of the Unleashed series, the COLAs are being kept under very close watch. The college has become a prison, and when some of Dax’s friends are taken away, Dax must get help from his former enemy and, shockingly, his little sister.

A group of special teenagers, each with an incredible power. They live together and learn how to use their abilities, protected from those who wish to harm them. Now, for one short week they are let out into the world, with strict instructions that they must not use their powers. But good intentions are easy … following them through is a different matter.

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. . . The Shapeshifter . . .