In this 4th volume of the Kitty Norville series, Kitty must move back to Denver because her mother is facing cancer treatments and she can’t bear to be away, even if it means her old pack of werewolves might hunt her down and kill her.
This is a return to form for Kitty. She does some radio shows, which have been my favorite parts of these books all along and I missed those scenes from the previous book. She also returns to Denver where she has to face the abusive relationship that she fled from in the first book. This time, though, she is not here to turn tail and run or to submit. She’s here to defend her right to live how she wants.
Kitty finally stands up for herself and I found that the way the character has grown over the last three books there was never any doubt in my mind how things would turn out here. She has changed from the timid and spineless follower she was in the first book and now she is a leader.
Kitty is short and small and will never be the physically strongest person in any given group of adults but she has learned to lead by intelligence and personality and sheer force of will. What made this book so satisfying was looking back at the progression of how Kitty has grown and changed over the course of the previous books.
It’s easy for characters to remain static, especially ones that are in a long running series such as this. The truly great series of books are the ones that see the characters grow and change over the course of the series, much like real people do.
Kitty has grown significantly but so has Carrie Vaughn’s writing. The first books felt awkward, like she was just trying out her newly found skills and wasn’t sure where everything actually fit. By this book everything is smooth, the plotting, the characters, the relationships, and the words themselves are comfortable and fit into place.
Carrie Vaughn has a great cast of characters and I’m interested to see where this series will go from here.
After the events of Kitty’s trip to Washington she decides to hide out in a cabin in a small town in Colorado while she tries to get enough focus to write the book she has a contract to finish.
As you might imagine things don’t go as planned and she gets into a mess of legal battles, skinwalkers, local law enforcement, amateur witchcraft and trauma.
This is the first book of the series that seems to be written as a horror story and draws on some classic horror pacing and tropes to pull off the creepy feelings.
Kitty is a more believable and likable character with every book and the other characters that start to recur more and more frequently are also becoming more interesting as it is revealed that each of them has reasons for the insane things they do.
I enjoy Carrie Vaughn’s voice and writing but I felt like, despite the long list of things going on in this book not much really happens. There isn’t a real plot, as such, there is no villain, no obstacle to overcome except maybe writer’s block. It’s more of a personal story and Carrie Vaughn is a powerful enough writer that she pulls it off but I finished it feeling a need for more.
So far I’ve found each book of the series has built on the previous until the character feels strong and interesting.
Carrie Vaughn’s writing has improved since her first book and this one is much more enjoyable. In the first one Kitty had to deal with some very uncomfortable situations.
She’s moved on now and has taken charge of her own life. She’s no longer willing to back down to just anybody who tries to be intimidating.
Instead she goes to Washington to participate in a senate hearing to determine if paranormal creatures are actually real. She’s supposed to testify.
There are people at various levels of government who want or don’t want her to be right. As you might imagine, there are those who see a potential for super soldiers or extended life treatments. There are those who see an excuse to label people with paranormal abilities as no longer human and take away their rights.
Kitty, obviously, falls on the opposite side of that argument and the reader is supposed to agree with her. In this series, I guess that’s okay. There seems to be a lot of evidence that the majority of vampires and werewolves and were-other things are pretty willing to get along with everybody else. Sure they can be dangerous and there are occasional murderous rampages but normal people produce serial killers occasionally, so…
The story itself is pretty mild. Kitty has to deal with some politics and with a really creepy preacher who claims he can cure vampires and werewolves.
There are people she doesn’t trust and people she does that she shouldn’t. She has a lawyer and a talk show and friends who might want to kill her.
What I missed in this book was what I liked the most about the first one. The talk show scenes. Kitty seems to come alive when she is hosting her radio show and I’m not sure why. One of the most tense scenes in the first book was when she talked down a werewolf hunter on the air. Dialogue is — usually — action. Even when it’s just people sitting and talking so maybe that’s why. There are a few scenes in this book but not as many as in the first one.
What is better is Kitty’s attitude. She’s no longer a cowering, whimpering pack follower. She’s gotten some spine and is a much more interesting character because of it.
Also Carrie Vaughn’s writing has improved. She has grown more comfortable with the novel length story telling and is much better at making plot elements add up and build on each other. Some of the scenes still come across as disjointed and the betrayals and surprises are broadcasted way too openly to be actual surprises but I find Kitty a much more likable character than Harry Dresden and Carrie Vaughn’s voice is smooth enough that the book flows and moves pretty quickly.
I wish that this book did not have such an unfortunate cover on it.
Carrie Vaughan has been on my radar for quite some time. She attends the Albuquerque science fiction and fantasy convention every year and always has very smart and interesting things to say. I have also read a small number of her short stories and found them to be imaginative and very well written.
I have to admit that the covers for her books held me back for a long time, though. The protagonist, Kitty Norville, is a werewolf that works at a radio station as the late-night DJ. One night she starts talking about vampires and werewolves and other paranormal things as something to pass the time between rock songs. It becomes so popular that her show gets syndicated and suddenly paranormal creatures from all over the country are calling her at night to ask for advice.
The book is short and shows Kitty growing from a young werewolf who is subservient to her pack to one that is strong and confident and willing to fight for what she feels she deserves. The beginnings of the book are a little hard to read as Kitty is mistreated by her pack leaders (the alphas) and she simply cowers and takes it. She quickly starts to stick up for herself, though, which gets her into trouble.
I feel like this is a good start to a series. If the story ended here it would be disappointing. Knowing that more books are already written means this is a good first chapter for a character who still has lots of growth and mystery to solve.
Kitty is interesting as a character and her sections about taking phone calls on her radio show are probably the most exciting and interesting parts of the book. I am excited to read the second book and see where the character goes.