April 29, 2009

Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn is the first book in the Kitty Norville series. It's a paranormal contemporary story that features werewolves, vampires and other supernatural beings living secretly among humans.

Kitty Norville is a late night DJ at a Denver radio station, KNOB. She is also a werewolf in the closet. One night she comments about the frequency of Bat Boy tabloid headlines and invites listeners to call in if they've seen him. The phone lines light up with calls about all manner of paranormal topics. It was just supposed to be inane radio chatter to fill time between records, until an actual vampire calls to ask for advice. The next day she has stacks of phone messages waiting for her. The station manager is so impressed with the volume of calls, he asks her to do a weekly talk show.

Kitty's show, The Midnight Hour, becomes a late-night sensation. Ratings are so good, it goes into syndication. The problem is her pack leader, Carl, feels the show attracts unwanted attention and undermines his authority over his pack. Kitty, the baby of the pack, is normally the most submissive. But her pride in the show prompts her to offer Carl half the syndication earnings, which is enough to convince him to let her keep doing the show. Unfortunately, the head of the local vampire family, Arturo, doesn't like the show either and hires an assassin.

Arturo, having a flair for the dramatic, gives instructions for the hit to take place while the show is on the air. Kitty manages to keep the hitman talking long enough for the cops to arrive, but in the process reveals her secret to the listening audience. This is great for ratings, but seriously complicates Kitty's life. Her human coworkers and family have lots of questions. She's on the outs with her pack. Arturo still wants her dead. And now the police want her to answer questions about a series of deaths previously thought to be animal attacks.

We watch Kitty grow as she tried to find her place in the pack and outside of it. She struggles with the question of how and when a person should trade security for independence. Freedom can be scary. She also has to deal with the discrimination of being something other than the norm.

The story address questions about how human and supernatural societies could live together peaceably. Does a pack have the right to discipline their own? What would happen if you put a werewolf in the human prison system? It also deals with the psychological issues supernaturals must face. Can a vampire still be Catholic? If there was a cure, would you take it? Is it wrong to want to be something other than human?

To put it bluntly, I loved this book. I am a big fan of genre fiction, especially when it rises above popcorn fare and makes the reader think. This book goes on the keeper shelf. I highly recommend it. I may even buy an extra copy to loan to friends. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Final grade: A

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