Carrie Vaughn

Gollancz (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 575 09008 8

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely, May 2010

Reality television has so many viewing hours on our screens that it was only a matter of time before it crossed the divide into our fiction. Celebrity werewolf and radio show host Kitty Norville is approached to participate in a two week show with a number of other prominent members of the paranormal society. While wary at first, Kitty is always up for something different, and some of her friends have already come on board. Vampires, were-animals, psychics, magicians and one skeptic are thrown into the mix and while things start out well, suddenly the bodies begin to pile up. Who is murdering the supernatural housemates, and can Kitty possibly get any of them out alive?

The Kitty books are cementing themselves among my favourite paranormal series books of all time. Each one I’ve read has improved on the last and the series has not yet fallen prey to my pet peeves with extended books, particularly the over-populated cast of characters. To be sure, the cast is growing in Kitty’s world, but Vaughn skilfully avoids problems caused by this in many ways (I can’t say much more on that, for fear of spoilers!). I also like the fact that the stakes are rising for Kitty and her pals, but while Kitty grows more comfortable in her skins as the books go on, she doesn’t find more and more superpowers to draw on – she simply has to deal with things the only way she can. The books have also increased in maturity over time – Kitty is growing up, taking responsibility, and while the wise-cracks are still there, the events are becoming more serious, and Kitty with them.

Vaughn is a clever writer – her characters are believable and three-dimensional, her plots self-contained to each novel while still perpetuating seeds planted in an over-arching storyline. Vaughn also does an excellent job of providing back-story without info-dumping, and I have never felt lost among character or story in these books. If you are at all interested in the paranormal genre, you have to read these books. And maybe even if you’re not interested, because they are ripping good yarns!