Kitty and the Midnight Hour – Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Norville was a DJ before she became a werewolf, and being a werewolf has affected her career: almost accidentally she started a paranormal-themed call-in show which has wound up taking her to the big-time. If only the head of the local vampire Family wasn’t dead-set (heh) against the show … And then there’s that werewolf-and-vampire assassin who wants to kill her … And the wrinkles the show has caused in her pack… And that evangelist she’s gotten calls about who is traveling the country claiming to cure vampires and werewolves …

First impressions of the book and the main character were, on the whole, good. Vaughn managed to find a slightly different angle on werewolves, almost as hard to do as to find a fresh take on dragons. Where Patricia Briggs (who has done both) created a world where the wolf and the human are largely separate, and human mores and practices largely prevail, Vaughn’s werewolves seem to have more of the wolf in them, always. Even as humans, when together they live by pack rules. It could be simply that Patricia Briggs has never yet concentrated on the submissive members of the pack, where Vaughn’s main character is pretty low on the totem pole… I wonder how the Mercy universe submissive wolves act. Here, it’s disturbing to read of that kind of pack behavior – cringing, cowering, accepting and even craving bullying behavior from the pack leader – in a character I’m beginning to like.

Kitty, the narrator, has a decent sense of humor (though not about her name, so much) – and there are some unfortunately unintentional moments of humor. Such as a line after a description of a confrontation with a character who had instigated the hiring of an assassin to take kill her: “Things were never going to be the same again.” Ya think?

I wasn’t tremendously impressed, over all, but I’m not sure why. That is, I liked the concepts of the cover being slowly drawn back from the vampires and werewolves; I liked the setting of the radio show and the accidental stardom it gave Kitty. I liked the alienness of both groups (even though I didn’t enjoy what the wolf reduced Kitty to), and I liked the varied reactions to vampirism and lycanthropy shown in Kitty’s callers and those around her – and in Kitty herself. But I was underwhelmed by parts of the plot; I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that there is a death near the end of the book that I saw coming some 150 pages earlier. (That might have been telegraphed by an adjective used in one of the blurbs, but then again it might not.) Little is wrapped up in this book, leaving miles of room for the sequels; not an unrealistic tack to take, but a little irritating.

Most of all, though, the joke about Kitty’s name is something that got very old, very fast. As in, by the second time someone made a remark. If that trend continues, the second book will be a veritable wall-banger. And, really, if people called me Kitty and I became a werewolf, I’d start going by Kathryn, Kath, Kathy – anything but a name made absurd by what had happened to me.

The Kitty Norville series isn’t off the table, by any means; I enjoyed Midnight Hour enough that I will get around to the rest of them. One fine day.

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