The first book in the popular Kitty UF series.
Kitty Norville is a DJ on a late-night music program. Then one night she starts to talk about possible supernatural news in the Wide World of News magazine and her callers starts to talk about vampires and other supernatural creatures. The show turns out to be a hit among the listeners and Kitty’s boss wants more. Soon enough, she’s hosting the Midnight Hour where people who claim the be vampires and werewolves can call and talk about their problems.
In this world, the supernatural is firmly in the closet and they want to stay there. Kitty herself is a werewolf and she’s the omega of her pack, the lowest in their pecking order. She considers herself helpless and is mostly content to stay in her safe place. However, her alpha Carl isn’t happy about the new show and wants her to quit. She gives him half of her income from the show and he lets her stay in the air. But then, the local vampire Master shows his displeasure and a werewolf hunter comes into town. If that wasn’t enough, the police want to consult Kitty on murders which look like they might have been done by large dogs.
I love Carrie Vaughn’s blog and so I was a bit hesitant to get the book. But I shouldn’t have worried. It’s pretty good and turns some of the current UF conventions on their ear. However, it was written before the current UF boom.
Kitty’s place in the pack is bad and luckily Vaughn knows it. Kitty is the least among the pack and she has to give everything her alpha, and possibly the other pack members, want: money, sex, giving up her career… The other pack members call this protecting her but Kitty starts to realize that they are actually preventing her from changing and growing. The book turns out to be a coming-of-age story after all, even though Kitty isn’t a teenager.
Even though I got the sense that the pack is pretty big, only a few of the members are given faces. Carl is the bullying alpha who seems to think with his dick instead of his brain. His mate is Meg. Carl’s second in command is T.J. who is gorgeous and gay and Kitty’s best friend. We see a few others. Here, Vaughn already breaks the “female werewolves are rare” and “there are no gay werewolves” memes. Also, “all I need is a fuck from the alpha” turns out not to be true. She explores the pack dynamics further when Kitty has to decide for herself is she can survive without a pack and so work actively against her instincts.
She also breaks another meme when Kitty still has a family outside the pack. She has parents and a sister who have no idea that Kitty’s a werewolf. She has to come up with excuses when she can’t go to a family gathering during a full moon.
At the start of the book Kitty is a bad place and quite submissive for a heroine, especially a UF heroine. However, this is just the start of her journey. There are also a lot of plot threads that are left dangling in the end.
The plot is somewhat leisurely and the focus is on Kitty and her growth instead of any of the mysteries. And there are a few mysteries: the elusive preacher who claims to have cure for vampirism and lycanthrophy, and government agents looking into the supernatural as diseases.
Will I continue with the series? Interesting and perhaps surprisingly complex question. These days I prefer audiobooks and ebooks to print books. Now, the Kitty series is available in all three formats but the audio and ebooks are US only. Rationally, I know that this is just leaglice and most likely the writer doesn’t have anything against people who don’t live in US. However, my emotional, knee-jerk reaction is that clearly I’m not wanted as a customer and so I’ll take my money elsewhere. It takes a damn good book to make me overcome my emotional response and while the book was pretty good it wasn’t that good. So, if the Kitty audiobooks become available outside US, I’ll likely get them, but it’s unlikely that I’ll get them before that.