Monday, March 23, 2009

Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Kitty Norville works the night shift at KNOB in Denver. She lives a fairly simple life - she goes to work, plays music for her show, and, on full moons, meets with the other werewolves of her pack to hunt in the countryside outside the city. One night a single phone call changes the course of her life: a caller phones in to comment on a National Enquirer-type tabloid story about Bat Boy, a local urban legend figure, saying it is actually a vampire. There ensues a discussion of vampires that sparks a spate of other phone calls, and by the time her shift is over, she realizes that her shift had turned into a radio talk show.

She expects to lose her job, but apparently the new format is a huge hit. She uses her background knowledge as a werewolf to answer callers, although no one knows what she is. It seems that half the callers are paranormal beings with issues and concerns, and the other half are humans who are curious but most don't actually believe in any of it.

For the first time in her life - since being changed into a werewolf from an unprovoked attack several years earlier, Kitty feels she has some control over her life. She loves her new show, loves the popularity and the feeling of doing something more important than just choosing songs to play on the air. But Carl, the leader of her pack, does not like it, and neither does the leader of the Denver vampires. They are worried that the discussion will expose them to the rest of the world and cause a dangerous backlash.

Kitty has always been a very submissive werewolf. In most books in this genre, the heroine is a strong, dominant wolf, and the submissives are relegated to secondary characters. This book examines the psychological issues of being a human suddenly possessed of wolf instincts, and how difficult it is when you actions feel instinctively right on one level and horribly wrong on another . Her reactions to Carl are disturbing because as a human she doesn't particularly care for him, yet her wolf acknowledges him as the leader, which makes him the one safe place, the most important being, the one she most wants to please. As Kitty comes into her own, particularly as she gains confidence and self-assurance through her program, her wolf also becomes more dominant. When she is told she must stop the program - even as it's being syndicated, and she uncharacteristically refuses, the consequences are beyond what she imagined. When she increasingly feels that she cannot trust her pack to be what they are supposed to be and Carl to lead as he is meant to lead, she is surprised to find herself turning to an usual person for support.

This is a gripping start to a series that I will definitely continue reading. I discovered it through a short story I enjoyed in the anthology Wolfsbane and Mistletoe. Every time I try a new paranormal series I go in very skeptical, thinking that there isn't likely to be anything new or different here. Many such stories take place in a world where it is taken for granted by everyone that supernatural beings exist side by side with humans - there has been some sort of shift in which vampires, werewolves and such are part of society, for better or worse. Here we actually see how that happens, or at least the catalyst for that happening. Often the heroines start out strong and feisty and become more so as the series progresses. Here we see Kitty struggling to overcome the life that was foisted upon her, to embrace what she values in her humanity as the wolf inside her urges her in different directions. While she has a long way to go, it was heartening to see the changes she begins to make in her life despite the many forces arrayed against her. I look forward to the further adventures of Kitty Norville.

Books in the Kitty Norville series:
1. Kitty and the Midnight Hour
2. Kitty Goes to Washington
3. Kitty Takes a Holiday
4. Kitty and the Silver Bullet
5. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand
6. Kitty Raises Hell
5. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand
6. Kitty Raises Hell
7. Kitty's House of Horrors (Forthcoming January 2010)

Kitty and the Midnight Hour (#1 in the Kitty Norville series) by Carrie Vaughn (Warner Books, 2005)

Also reviewed at:
The Hook Line and Stinker: "This was a fun first book with both werewolves, vampires and a vampire hunter who becomes Kitty's friend and I have already started collecting the rest in the series to read at some time."
Unmainstream Mom Reads: "Because the story is laying out background and introducing characters, the book does not get good until about page 70. From there, it's non-stop all the way to the end."

11 comments:

  1. I know what you mean about being skeptical about a new series. I have seen this around but haven't yet committed to it. It does sound like you really enjoyed it and I will wait and see what you think of the next in the series before deciding.

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  2. Rhinoa - Sounds like a plan. I'm happy to be the guinea pig for this one! :-)

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  3. I'm on the fourth book in the series and still enjoying it...even though I don't normally read Werewolf stories!

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  4. Amy - that's great to hear. I'm really looking forward to continuing the series. And as for the werewolf books, it's a slippery slope, my friend. Next thing you know you'll be reading Moon Called, and it'll all be over! :-)

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  5. I adore this series! I haven't read the last two yet but my reviews for the first four are coming up soon!

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  6. sounds like and interesting read. I have added it to my future reading list. Thanks.

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  7. Ladytink - if you weren't already reading it, I would have highly recommended this to you - I knew you'd like it. :-)

    Heather - I'm so glad. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts when you read it.

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  8. Is it relatively clean? I'm no prude, but I embarass easily and prefer books on the not so detailed side (hard to find in this genre!)

    Josh

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  9. Josh - Well, it's no Laurell Hamilton. I don't think it's too bad, but I'm apparently totally not embarrassed easily because I honestly can't remember. My recollection is that there may be a steamy scene or two but nothing too explicitly detailed.

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  10. I like this genre a lot, but I am a bit picky when it comes to books about werewolves. Some are great! Some others...not so much. This one doesn't sound like the usual werewolf story though. You've got me hooked on this one :)

    (My to-read list just keeps growing and growing...how am I ever going to find the time to read all these interesting books? Haha)

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  11. Night Reader - I'll be very interested to hear what you think if you give this series a try. I continue to enjoy this one, but my favorite series that involves werewolves is Patricia Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series (although the title character is not a werewolf). Have you read that one?

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