Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
Book One of the Kitty Series
ISBN: 978 0 575 10069 5
Published by Gollancz UK. 2011 edition; first published 2005
Review by Mark Yon
Kitty Norville’s a DJ on a radio station (KNOB! Does this mean something different to people not in the UK?) in Denver. When she turns her airtime into a talk show called ‘The Midnight Hour’, it becomes extremely popular. Soon it becomes syndicated across the country, with all manner of would-be and real supernatural vampires and werewolves phoning in to tell tales and share grievances.
However Kitty soon finds out that such popularity has a downside. Unbeknown to most (at first), Kitty herself is a werewolf, and the publicity draws attention from a number of unwanted sources. The leader of the local vampire group wants her to stop broadcasting, the leader of her werewolf pack as well. When Kitty is forced to out herself as a werewolf on-air she gets the attention of Cormac, a terrifically good-looking were-hunter who she feels strangely attracted to!
Ok. There are times when the books you read help you explore the inner consciousness of your soul and those around you, that give you a better understanding of the world’s complexities around you.
This isn’t one of them. But then, it doesn’t try to be. Instead, this is a fast-paced, entertaining read, with much of it reading as if it were a script, because it is based around radio-talk.
There’s also lots of playing with supernatural tropes. Here werewolves can change at any time by choice, rather than just at the full moon, for example. With such standard characters it’s pretty clear from the outset where this one is going, but the ride is fun and the tale is told in an engagingly light manner, with the odd slightly sad moment to keep the ending sweet.
In particular, where this one scores is the character of Kitty Norville herself. She’s young and cute, if a little downtrodden at first, and would clearly be a great relatable character for those young twenty-somethings to aspire to who want to move on from Twilight, especially by the end of the book.
I did feel uncomfortable with some issues with the behaviour of pack mentality: Kitty is quite submissive when the book starts, which allows Carl, her Alpha male in the pack, to dominate her sexually and socially whenever he feels like it. She seems to accept this, though it is clear that as the tale progresses, she *cough* develops some teeth. This is Kitty going through that difficult teenage phase, of outgrowing her mentors and becoming independent. By the end it’s a much more empowered place to be than it seemed it might be to start with.
For those concerned about such matters, we’re not quite the full-on erotic experience of the later Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake books, but we’re not the chaste longing of the early Twilight books either. There is sex, though not too explicit.
And there’s a play list at the beginning of the book, as befitting a DJ.
A fast read and good fun, in a book that manages to use old ideas in a new way.
There are, at the time of writing, eight other books in the series. If you enjoy this one, as I did, you’ll want to go find more in the series.
Mark Yon, June 2011