Carrie Vaughn

A stand-alone book about vampire Rick in the Kitty Norville books.

Publication year: 2020, comes out March 13th
Format: eARC
Page count at GoodReads: 192
Publisher: Tachyon Publishing

This short book reveals the backstory of Rick or Ricardo de Avila. I’ve only read the first three books in the series, so I haven’t encountered him before. Still, the book works.

Ricardo is over 500 years old but he’s always wanted to be on his own so he doesn’t know much about vampires and especially about vampire politics. In fact, he lived over a hundred years before he even heard the word “vampire.” He thought he was a soulless demon which was a huge blow to him because he’s a Catholic.

Three short stories are incorporated into the book: “Conquistador de la Noche”, “El Hidalgo de la Noche”, and “Dead Men in Central City”. In the framing story, Rick arrives to the Vatican to meet the Abbot of the Order of Saint Lazarus of the Shadows. Rick is very curious to find out more about these supposed vampire monks but the Abbot insists on hearing Rick’s story instead of telling about the order’s history.

Rick is the son of a lesser Spanish nobleman and he came to New Spain with Coronado. In the ten years he spent following his commander, his dreams of gold and glory died. When a friend he hasn’t seen in years betrays him, he loses his life but becomes a vampire. He’s still fiercely independent and when his new “Master” tries to control Rick, Rick refuses.

Rick lives on his farm for a couple of generations but when more vampires arrive from Spain, they’re very interested in him. He still isn’t interested in serving anyone else. He must defend his life, and friends, from the newcomers.

In 1868, Rick arrives just before dawn to Central City after his horse has broken her leg. With his supernatural powers, he manages to secure a safe place to sleep the day, but attracts the attention of Doc Holliday. Rick stays in the saloon as a bouncer for a week and talks with the Doc. Then an eager young gunfighter challenges the Doc.

“El Conquistador del Tiempe” is original to this book and in it Rick tells what happened 1848 in Santa Fe. He was there with a dying friend when he was warned that someone terrible is coming.

These short stories, without an overarching plot, really feel like moments in Rick’s life. Even though he’s a vampire, he respects life and doesn’t want to kill anyone. But when required, he defends himself and his friends. He’s very different from other famous vampires, because he has compassion for the people around him and wants to have friends, rather than servants.

This was a very good introduction to the character and I loved all the historical refrences. My only complaint is that there’s still quite a large gab between 1868 and modern days. Perhaps more stories? I’m sure Kitty fans will also like this book a lot.

The third book in the series.

Publication year: 2007
Page count: 318 + an excerpt of Kitty and the Silver Bullet
Format: print
Publisher: Warner Books

After the climatic ending of the previous book, where Kitty changed into a wolf in front of television cameras, Kitty has withdrawn to a mountain cabin. Supposedly, she’s taking a break from publicity and writing a book. Instead, she’s fighting her inner wolf who wants to just run away from civilization.

Then, someone leaves a slaughtered rabbit on her doorstep and paints a cross on her door with blood. Kitty calls in the local sheriff but to her dismay the local police officers aren’t very efficient. She’s also concerned because she didn’t hear or smell anyone, even with her werewolf senses.

The werewolf hunter Cormac appears. He brings with him Ben O’Farrell, Kitty’s friend and lawyer. A werewolf has bitten Ben and he’s now transforming into a werewolf, too. It’s not going to be easy; some people go crazy. Cormac wants Kitty to help Ben.

Then someone leaves many slaughtered dog carcasses outside the cabin door and makes a circle around the cabin with crosses made of barbed wire and silver. The sheriff is starting to believe that Kitty is doing this herself to get attention. This makes Kitty, of course, angry.

The book has a quite isolated environment and a limited cast. Cormac is his usual dour self and we get to know his background. Apparently, he and Ben made a vow when they were a lot younger that if either of them gets infected with lycantrophy, the other one would kill him. However, in the end, Cormac couldn’t kill Ben but brought him to Kitty thinking that she can help him. Ben seriously thinks about killing himself. Kitty is, of course, furious. She takes Ben into her pack, of two wolves, and becomes very protective of him. This is quite a change for her; when we first met her, she was the omega of her pack, in the next book she doesn’t have a pack, and now she’s the leader. She’s pretty unsure about it herself except that she wants to keep her small pack alive and thriving.

Cormac is now rather protective of Kitty. When the police fail to found out who has been bringing the carcasses outside the cabin, he starts to look into it. Ben is pretty much a mess. As a lawyer, he’s used to being in control and having rules to follow, or bend. Now, he doesn’t have them. His whole self has changed and now has a stranger in his mind. Kitty remembers how her best friend T. J. helped her when she changed and tries to do the same thing for Ben. Also, there’s a lot of tension between Cormac and Ben; neither of them knows how to deal with the change.

There’s a town near the cabin. Now that people know that Kitty is a werewolf, the owner of the convenience store trains a shotgun on Kitty every time she shops there. Also, Ariel, the Priestess of the Night, has started her radio show about all things supernatural and Kitty is convinced that she’s a hack who is trying to ride on Kitty’s fame. Kitty even calls in to the show. This was very, very human and funny.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the book. Kitty has grown quite a bit and I like her better when she isn’t in an abusive relationship with her pack leader.

The ending, or rather the last 1/3 of the book were really surprising in a good way. It was quite different from the videogame like endings a lot of fantasy books have.

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.