Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Changing Apartments by Zoe Swish

Long-term fans of Fictionmania may recognize Zoe Swish better by the name Swishy, author of such multi-part stories as Kate Draffen and Unchained. With Changing Apartments, she makes the leap to professional publishing, assisted by the editing talents of one of our favorite authors, Courtney Captisa.

What strikes me most about Changing Apartments is the originality of it. Swish is clearly aware of the basic tropes of the bodyswapping genre, and knows how these kinds of stories are expected to develop, but she is not afraid to break the rules and make the story her own. This is a story that develops in a new way, which puts a different sort of emphasis on sexual discovery, and takes an entirely different approach to happily ever after.

Grace and Hank are neighbors, acquaintances who pass in the hall, but who really know nothing about one another. When they both arrive home from a night out, a strange sort of supernatural synchronicity occurs as they insert their keys and open their respective doors at the same time. Except, Hank finds himself walking into Grace's apartment, and vice versa. There is some initial comedy in the situation, as both try to exit back into the hall and correct the mistake, but they keep finding themselves in the wrong apartment. What is even stranger is that they seem to be dressed in one another's clothes, despite looking and feeling very much like themselves . . . at first.

Swish spends a lot of time on their respective transformations, inviting us to share in the magic of being reshaped a piece at a time. The level of detail here is exquisite, and it comes without the pain or discomfort on which the genre so often relies. Once their transformations are complete, Hank suddenly finds himself very interested in exploring his newly feminine body, while Grace wastes no time indulging her masculinity, seizing Hank's wife and enjoying a night of passion. It is fun, it is genuine, and it is almost innocent in the way it develops.

Beyond the sexual aspect, both Hank and Grace find themselves adapting to their new lives rather more easily than they expected. While they lack the memories and life experiences of the other, it seems that a lot of what makes us masculine/feminine is instinctual, surprising both of them with talents they did not expect to possess. It is all slow and subtle, shown rather than told, allowing the story to develop on the strength of the characters, not the bodyswapping.

I thoroughly enjoyed Changing Apartments, and was honestly delighted by how Swish chose to resolve the story and arrive at a happily ever after. If you are a fan of the genre, then this is a must-read tale that is smart, sexy, erotic, and entertaining all at the same time.

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