Blade Song – J.C. Daniels

Kit Colbana is a private investigator in the grand hard-boiled tradition. She’s struggling to make ends meet, but refuses to take work from any quarter which she knows will only bring more trouble to her than benefit, like the vampires. She also generally avoids were-cats, but when the case that’s brought to her – by a drop-dead gorgeous shapeshifter named Damon – involves a boy, a sixteen-year-old in the throes of his first change, which means he’s a mess – and now he’s missing. She should walk away; the cat Alpha is crazy, and crazy plus claws is bad… but the boy needs help. She takes the case.

Part of the case, unfortunately for her peace of mind, is accepting this Damon jerk as her sidekick. Whither she goeth, he goeth, and thereth not a thing she can doeth about it.

As in The Twisted Kiss (see previous review post), there is a virus that causes lycanthropy in this world; it’s a great deal like AIDS, in that it is spread through blood or sex (or heredity, or, of course, a bite). Unlike Kiss, this isn’t post-apocalyptic, though, and unlike AIDS, it’s almost likely you’ll survive getting this virus. Not definite; lots of those who contract the virus die of it, but a percentage do make it and gain the ability to shift into a creature (wolves, rats, and various large cats are featured), benefiting from enhanced healing, speed, strength, all the usual good parts…

Also as in The Twisted Kiss, there is a heroine with Issues. Kit Colbana is half human, half aneira – think Amazon, the reader is told, only moreso – and this is what has led to her Issues; in a world where “non-humans” – weres and witches and vampires (and aneira) and humans are struggling to get along, being of mixed blood can have unpleasant consequences – especially when the relatives of the “non-human” half are completely intolerant of what they consider mongrels. Kit was raised by her grandmother. Banish from your mind all the usual connotations “raised” and “grandmother” usually have, and you’ll start to get why Kit is damaged. It’s realistically, wrenchingly, portrayed: what Kit has survived is a part of her that she does not choose to share or dwell on, but when it comes out in bits and fragments it is never played for the sympathy of the reader. It happened. It still affects her. Pity her at your own peril.

One hurdle this book put up for itself was that the heroine swears like a particularly ticked off sailor. Given that this has a first-person perspective, that means not just in dialogue. It usually doesn’t trouble me; I wouldn’t say this bothered me, but my eyebrows did go up a few times. Something to keep in mind if it does bother you. In large part, those travails Kit has gone through excused it for me; somehow, it would have felt a little less believable if she had said “gosh” and “darn”.

Unlike The Twisted Kiss, this book is not written primarily as a showcase for sex scenes. That is not remotely a focus of the book – the last thing Kit is seeking right now is a fling, especially with this huge jerk Damon, however pretty he is. The characters, main and secondary alike, have a breath and life that lets this book rank much higher among urban fantasies than I expected; the death of one character was something I regretted quite a bit. There are a lot of very good things in this book I didn’t expect. I have begun quite a few series this year, and with most of the ones I plan to pursue it will be “when I think of it”, “The Colbana Files” is one series is one worth seeking out.

This was a Netgalley offering, read with thanks.

 

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