Thursday 4 April 2019

#CBR11 Book 13: "Skinwalker" by Faith Hunter

Page count: 320 pages
Audio book length: 14 hrs 29 min
Rating: 3.5 stars

Jane Yellowrock is, as far as she's aware, the very last of her kind. She's a skinwalker of Cherokee descent and has never encountered anyone with the same powers as her. She makes a living hunting vampires, but finds herself in the unusual position of working for the vampire council in New Orleans, to track down a rogue vampire. Jane has ten days to locate the creature if she wants to get the exclusive bounty, but there are other individuals in the city who seem to be on the same mission. As her hunt intensifies, it seems as if the vampire doesn't just feed on humans, but other vampires, and has the ability to change it's scent - which just shouldn't be possible.

In my experience, it's a rare paranormal/urban fantasy series that has the perfect first book and just hooks you in right away. Most series tend to take at least a book or two (or until book 4, in the case of The Dresden Files) to really get good. Even my beloved co-writing team Ilona Andrews doesn't hit it right out of the park with their Kate Daniels books (but in later series, they had me hooked right from the start). Faith Hunter is a new author for me, but considering there are currently 12 full novels in this series, as well as a number of novellas, I'm guessing she's doing ok for herself and the books are popular enough to justify the extended series length.

While our kick ass heroine, Jane, projects a pretty serious loner vibe to everyone she meets in New Orleans, it's clear that she has a found family that she adores and misses. In the universe Faith Hunter has created, there are vampires and witches, but she hints at the existence of other paranormal entities like were-creatures and possibly fairies as well, plus there is Jane's possibly unique ability as a skinwalker (call me cynical, but I'm willing to bet that somewhere down the line of the series, Jane is going to discover that she's not as alone as she believes herself to be and that her heritage is more complicated than she realised - that's just storytelling 101 in a series like this). Jane's best friend is a witch, who has at least one plot moppet daughter who is apparently off the scale powerful (I did not enjoy the lisping way the narrator voiced the child AT ALL).

There are a bunch of vampire clans in New Orleans, and because they're paying her bills, Jane forces herself to set aside her aversion to them. Like most paranormal heroines on a mission, she doesn't exactly exude charm and make friends whereever she turns up. Jane manages to piss off several high ranking vampires, as well as members of the city's police force while she snoops around and unearths secrets. While there are some guys that Jane clearly finds attractive introduced over the course of the novel, no clear love interest has presented itself, which I like. Romance doesn't have to be a leading subplot for these books to work, and I would rather that the author take a bit longer to establish the world and her main character before introducing potential love interests into the mix.

This book entertained me enough that I will probably check out more in the future. With several of my long-running paranormal series completed in the last few years, I'm on the look-out for new examples of the genre. I didn't hate how Khristine Hvam narrated the book, but didn't love it either, so may read the next ones myself, rather than get them in audio.

Judging a book by its cover: While the cover model portraying our heroine no  doubt looks pretty bad ass, I'm not sure whose marketing decision it was to do the cover pretty much exclusively in shades of black and brown. It brings to mind smudging and dirt, and I'm not a huge fan. It's could also only be a more stereotypically paranormal/urban fantasy cover if the cover model was wielding a crossbow rather than shotgun.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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