I’ve been following this series since the beginning, full of hope and almost-admiration for the heroine, Jane Yellowrock. She is a fabulous example of what I enjoy in urban fantasy females. She’s independent, athletic, even-tempered, kicks butt, almost never talks about her clothes, and initially, couldn’t care less if she had a boyfriend or not. (However, she does talk about her weapons and armor–does that count?) Her world is a modern day U.S. coping with the exotic “races” of vampires, weres and witches, and Jane makes her living hunting down rogue vampires guilty of killing humans. Jane’s character is somewhat exotic in the UF field, both as a Native American and as a skinwalker, someone able to take the bodies of mammals using specially prepared fetishes. Due to childhood trauma, she now shares her body with Beast, a female mountain lion.
I find this a hard series to review because I want to love it. I want to love Jane. I want to love the version of the world, even if this book started to remind me of Anita Blake‘s setting with federal paranormal bureaus, vampire “separate nation” charters and growing talk of Jane’s “pack.” However, I struggle in each book with various plot points, and Jane’s personality seems a little too malleable by book 4, like she believes what her author needs her to believe for that plot, rather than a natural evolution. She’s also troubled by a giant guilt complex. In one book, it showed up as neglecting her Christian beliefs; in another, it was neglecting her Cherokee heritage. Not that it changes her behavior for longer than that book, mind you–in this one, we had a cursory church service and a brief conversation with her Native spiritual elder–both with guilt, of course. Add in undeserved guilt about putting her best friend and god-child in danger (the last book and this), and it becomes a crutch of motivation more than a true character flaw.
The Anita Blake parallels became horribly clear after
[ SPOILER] Jane ended up having a sexual interlude with a vampire–only for healing, of course–and he Frenchishly said something along the lines of “no penetration, your American prudery is safe.” Given that she had some memories of general ecstasy, it seems an irrelevant point–and not one I’m sure Jane really bought into. [END SPOILER]
It did create a very strong reaction in me, however–I’m begging you, Faith, please don’t let Jane go the way of Anita Blake. I was having uncomfortably flashbacks to wereleopards and non-penetrative vampire sex. Please, please don’t go there.
What do I like? Hunter takes particular care with developing her settings, and has a good feel for developing atmosphere. Jane, when she wasn’t feeling guilty. Jane and Beast hunting, and Jane talking with her goddaughter. The discovery of the traitor, and the overall finish. The grindylow. There’s a lot to enjoy and it is written engagingly, as long as consistency in character from book to book and sub-plotting is ignored. Ouch–that sounds harsh–but it is a compliment, as there is enough good stuff to make it time-worthy. A three and a half star read.