Kitty and The Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, Book 1)
Carrie Vaughn, 2005
Premise: Kitty Norville is a radio DJ by night, werewolf by, well, other nights. When she starts talking to her callers instead of just taking requests, she accidentally starts a call-in show for supernaturals, cranks, and the curious. Her sudden success should be great for her, except her pack and the local vampires are angry about the potential attention, and someone’s determined to take her off the air.
Oh, now this was an urban fantasy/paranormal whatsit I could really enjoy. Kitty is sassy and snappish and she’s scared, but gaining nerve. I really liked that her goals revolved around staying alive, staying sane, and keeping her job. There’s a cute guy, but that is not the plot.
The supporting characters were pretty interesting overall. I hope that there are some less antagonistic female characters in the later books; one flaw here is that, other than Kitty, this is a bit of a sausage fest.
The action I enjoyed, the intertwining plot threads worked for me. I whipped through this book in a single evening because I couldn't put it down. I really liked the way the wolf sections were written. It conveyed the dichotomy and the struggle between the human self and the wolf self in a way that really worked for me.
I also thought it was an interesting stab at a world that’s on the cusp of recognizing that paranormals exist, instead of one where that’s already the status quo.
I am going to get a little bit into spoilers here, but I think I need to talk about the one thing that I both really liked and that was really uncomfortable to read. If you don’t want to read details, I do at least want to give this book a trigger warning, for discussion of rape and sexual coercion.
Okay. Here’s the thing. Kitty’s a werewolf. In a pack. And that comes with some interesting physical instincts, and some pretty ugly sexual baggage. Pack status between the Alpha male and the females revolves around sex, and the part of Kitty that is the Wolf is okay with this. The part of me that is a human reader was revolted. But what I liked about it was that it was this dark, brutal, animal side to the paranormal state that seemed like a logical blend of human opportunism and animal instinct. The pack dynamic lends itself to abuse, and those instincts mean that werewolves have even more trouble than normal humans trying to deal with an abusive relationship. Kitty, as the youngest in the pack, has to fight her wolf instincts in order to assert herself. It’s not pretty, and she doesn’t really face up to how awful it is, seemingly sweeping it all under the rug until she can’t anymore.
In non-spoiler language: some of the relationships, and the sexual content, are really dark, but I thought it mostly worked in context.
The initial premise hook (the creation of the radio show) did seem a little rushed and the book is rather short. This isn’t great literature, but it is action-packed fun.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book