I’ve always enjoyed Urban Fantasy ever since I read a certain book. I don’t want to name names or pass blame – but it’s Jim Butcher’s fault. My only problem with urban fantasy is that the line between it and romance novels seem to be thin at best. It’s not a bad thing but as a male reader I often have difficulty finding books that appeal to me.
Laurell K. Hamilton is a great author but her work doesn’t appeal to me. I enjoy a solid mix of monster, magic, action, mystery and romance without romance taking a forefront. In short I want more Angel (the spin-off series) and less Buffy the Vampire Slayer (especially those episodes where she cries for two episodes over a one night stand).
Then I came across Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a radio station in Denver. She’s also a werewolf. One day, or night, she accidently answers a supernatural question on the air. This quickly becomes a supernatural call-in television show where she helps those going through the rough patches. Weres without a pack, vamps without a home, and those struggling with their new lives or how to ‘come out’ to their families.
Somebody has begun to take issues with this show, somebody always has issues, and takes actions. Could be someone in her pack. Could be one of the vampires. Whoever it is, they send a hitman after Kitty, and he has experience terminating werewolves and vampires. Kitty is forced to give up either the radio show or her life.
I found Kitty and the Midnight Hour an intriguing read. I loved the way Vaughn described the werewolf, a hungry entity inside of her begging to be released. It acts like a devil on Kitty’s shoulder, telling her she should do this or that, telling her how easy it would be to unleash the beast and rip this guy to shreds or how to react to her Alpha. The beast is its own character, a similar approach to Bruce Banner-Hulk. Vaughn also spends a great amount of detail, and rightfully so, on pack mentality. How the wolf feels the needs to submit to the Alpha because that’s how the pack works. Vaughn’s supernatural world also exists within the realms of science, with the curses and magical beings having some modern explanation.
Then there the radio show.
This is Kitty’s job. She’s a radio host. But it’s more than just a point of her life; it is a major plot device and a defining trait for Kitty. Vaughn uses it to describe the rules in a carefully hidden exposition. Vaughn also pulls the questions or topics of her calls from reality, albeit it with a switch. One caller asks about coming out to his family about his werewolf infliction, another wants to end it all and become a vampire and a third wants to find a pack. Using topics like these, supernatural version of modern problems like coming out to parents about homosexuality, admitting suicide plans or trying to find friends or lovers, Vaughn is able to pull sympathy and empathy from the reader, creating an instant connection to the supernatural world. She makes things feel a little more real.
All in all it is a great book. It still had a strong romantic story, one similar to trends we’ve seen in the writing of Hamilton and Harris, but not to the point that it dominated the book. This book is very securely based in its mystery and the treat of death.
In short – a great book that shouldn’t be missed.
Make sure you check out the 42webs interview with Carrie Vaughn