Well written, good pacing and great concept. The idea of magical healing is prevalent in fantasy, but it's generally presented as mostly harmless to the healer and finite in nature relative to the healers ability. Conventionally, the harm to the healer is understood to come from the magical drain of healing, not from taking on the pain and "psychic wounds," I guess, of the harmed person.That's why I liked "The Shifter" so much. Good fantasy books take an accepted trope and twist it ever so slightly. Paired with good writing and decent to excellent pacing, you end up with a good book. And this is a pretty good book.In Nya's (the protagonist) world, it's perfectly normal for people to have the ability to Take pain and Heal wounds. Those with the talent are trained from young apprentices (Takers) into Healers. Of course, nobody could simply hold onto all that pain, so they dump it into a specially mined ore called pynvium. I wasn't quite clear whether raw pynvium accepted the pain, or whether it only accepted the pain after Enchanters worked it, but either way, pynvium is extremely valuable -- both empty of pain and full of it. Once it's full of pain, it can't be emptied and re-used, but it can be made into weapons.Nya's family was composed of Healers and Enchanters. Her parents and grandmother died in the recent war against the Duke of Baseeri, which her country is still recovering from. Her sister is learning to be a Healer. Nya herself, however, couldn't join the Healers League because her healing ability is . . . warped.While Nya can heal, she can't dump pain into the pynvium. She can't even feel the "call" of the pynvium. The most she can do is shift the pain into another person, which her mother warned her never to do.This premise sets the stage for an incredible, twisting ride of adventure and ethical questions that keep you leaping from moment to the next. The only thing I wished was that the book was a little longer and a little darker. I wanted to explore the characters more, I wanted to understand their dilemmas and fears a little more.It was a good book, really. I think if it had been aimed at an older audience and been a little darker, a little more in-depth, it could have been a great book. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.