Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I went into this expecting a cookie-cutter urban fantasy. I was pleasantly surprised. Though this predates many of the current genre standbys, it manages to avoid many of the tropes that have made some aspects of the genre seem tired.
Kitty Norville is a radio DJ on KNOB. She's also a werewolf. One night, she wonders aloud about Bat Boy, the tabloid staple, and asks people to call in with their stories about the supernatural. Calls pour in, and her boss asks her to make it an ongoing theme. Soon, she's syndicated across the country, doling out advice about dating a werewolf, and pissing off the local vampire and werewolf leaders.
The werewolves in this series are about more than just furry animalism. The pack politics that make it so hard for her to disobey her higher-ups highlights several points in our world about consent, power, and bullying. Carl, her pack leader, is adamant he doesn't want her to continue doing the show, because to do so shakes the very foundation of his authority. But she continues, because she needs the show as much as the callers need her to continue putting it on.
Kitty's strength isn't always in her fighting, though she does make a point to take a self-defense class so she can take care of herself. The two most tense moments in the book are defused through her words.
The book sets up a lot of subplots for later exploration, but that's also a weakness. So much of the book is setup, with so little payoff, that it's hard to feel invested in any of the plots at all. The ones that end up getting addressed this book weren't the ones I would've guessed.
I plan on listening to the next book in the series. I'm looking forward to hearing what else Kitty can get up to.
I listened to this book on audio, narrated by Marguerite Gavin. She has an excellent radio voice, and I could believe that Kitty would have her husky alto. But her cadence was sometimes off, changing the meaning of some of the dialogue, and I'd have to mentally fix it.
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