The second book in Vaughn’s urban fantasy series. It’s my last book in the Horror and Urban fantasy challenge and one of the books in my Take A Chance Challenge, number 7. I went to the What Should I Read Next page, put in Pride of Chanur by Cherryh and the page recommended Vaughn’s whole series. I don’t think they’re actually similar, though.

Publication year: 2006
Format: print
Page count: 321 plus a bonus short story Kitty meets the band
Publisher: Orion

After the end of the previous book, Katharine ”Kitty” Norville is staying on the road. She’s still doing her talk show on Friday nights, The Midnight Hour, and talking about various supernatural phenomena. She’s doing the show from a different city every week. Then she’s called to testify in front of the US Senate because they are investigating the Center for the Study of Paranormal Biology. So, Kitty drives to Washington, D. C.

There two hulking Men In Black take her to meet the local Vampire Master, or Mistress in this case. Alette is courteous but firm; the local lycanthropes are running wild, Kitty is Alette’s guest, and she will protect Kitty from her own kind. Kitty isn’t thrilled about it but doesn’t have a choice. She moves into Alette’s house instead of a hotel. Alette plans for her minion to always escort Kitty but Kitty slips out on her own to do some sightseeing. She’s also invited to parties. In one of them, she meets a werejaguar and is instantly attracted to the handsome Brazilian man. Through him, Kitty explores D.C.’s relaxed werecreature community.

But it’s not all fun. The Chair of the Senate committee is a paranoid religious Senator who wants to expose all ”the monsters” to the public. The head of the Center, doctor Paul Flemming, is another witness and Kitty finds out about his military background. A couple of old enemies are also in town. Not to mention all of the reporters…

I liked this book a lot more than the first one. Kitty is away from her former toxic werewolf pack and the dangling plot lines from Kitty and the Midnight Hour get conclusions, sort of. Vaughn can continue them if she wants to but it’s not necessary. I also really enjoyed the start of the book where Kitty does a brief literary analysis of Dracula: ”But what it’s really about is saving the world through superior office technology.” The callers are also very entertaining.

There are a lot of interesting characters in the book. I loved the way Kitty’s mom calls her every Sunday to catch up. Kitty’s lawyer Ben is a solid ally who does his best to protect Kitty’s interests. Originally, Kitty is afraid of Alette and also admires her style. Several people serve Alette and Kitty asks them straight out if they know that she’s a vampire. Turns out that they do; their families have served her for a long time. Also, Alette doesn’t use them against their will or oppress them. Emma is working through collage while serving Alette, and Tom and Bradley, the two MIB chauffeurs, turn out to be rather normal people, after all. I also rather enjoyed the professional psychic and the reporter who grew up with supernatural tales.

The werecreature pack is set up very differently than Kitty’s old pack and it was a revelation to her, and of course to us readers, that there can be a pack without constant jockeying for power and the alpha position. This makes sense, of course, because most people aren’t powerhungry jerks.

Kitty and the werejaguar Luis have a fling. Neither pretend that it’s more than that and it was great to see Kitty more relaxed and enjoying her life. There’s no huge proclamations of love or anything like that. Great!

Kitty has done a lot of growing up since the start of the first book. In a conflict situation her first instinct is still cowering and looking meek, but she can be more aggressive, when needed. She has a lot of guilt from the events in the previous book, which is understandable. The psychic helps her through them which I considered a bit too fast but I’m sure most readers don’t like Kitty dwell on her feelings.

The plot isn’t a roller coaster ride but moves in a good pace. There’s an air of tension about the Senate hearing because they could theoretically declare all werewolves and vampires non-humans and non-Americans. However, I wasn’t really convinced that would happen and I don’t know if that would have really changed anything. So, for me at least, there wasn’t a huge doom and gloom tension.

This was a great continuation to Kitty and the Midnight Hour; in fact I think I would have been happier reading them back to back.

In the short story Kitty meets, on her show, the band Plague of Locusts. The bass player is apparently possessed by a demon. Nice one.

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