books

Carrie Vaughn

Books

Kitty Norville: Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005), Kitty Goes to Washington (2006), Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007), Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2007), Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand (2009), Kitty Raises Hell (2009), Kitty’s House of Horrors (2010), Kitty Goes to War (2010), Kitty’s Big Trouble (2011), Kitty’s Greatest Hits (2011), Kitty Steals the Show (2012), Kitty Rocks the House (2013), Kitty in the Underworld (2013), Low Midnight (2014), Kitty Saves the World (2015)

Anthologies: Better Off Undead (2008), Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008), By Blood We Live (2009), Dark and Stormy Knights (2010), Running with the Pack (2010), Vampires: The Recent Undead (2010), Full Moon City (2010), Down These Strange Streets (2011), Those Who Fight Monsters (2011), Hex Appeal (2012), The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination (2013), Weird Detectives (2013), Dangerous Women (2013), Magic City (2014)

 

 

Kitty Norville

 

Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005)

Kitty Norville is a midnight DJ for a local Denver radio station (I believe it is supposed to be a public radio station. Yay!) who takes requests and calls. One night the calls go in an unexpected direction, and she ends up hosting a regular call in advice program from supernatural creatures. All the while, she struggles to deal with her own supernatural identity.

As I've said before, I'm fascinated by the way different authors handle the abilities of the supernatural creatures that inhabit their stories. Each other seems to incorporate different bits of folklore while making other parts superstition. Carrie Vaughn has created a supernatural world that someone parallels the rules of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, although there are some significant differences. (I leave the discovery of these differences as an exercise to the reader.)

Kitty is a compelling heroine. She has her weaknesses, but despite the fact that she may not be completely content with her lot in life, she is doing the best she can with a situation not of her choosing. The secondary characters: Matt, TJ, and Rick, are also very interesting and quite obviously have both depth and back story, although we don't necessarily learn what those back stories are.

The pack structure of the local werewolf clan was very interesting, in that the pack seems to retain a good part of its wolfish nature, although it isn't clear whether this is true of all packs or just her pack.

As far as the writing, I was glad that it was obviously stated how much time was passing, because I didn't get a good sense from the story of how quickly or slowly events were happening, so the written markers of time were very helpful. The dialog was also good, in that the characters seemed both real and realistic.

The only thing I took issue with was how ready the other supernatural creatures were to call "The Midnight Hour" and discuss their problems. If werewolves and vampires were really as closeted as they seemed in the story, then I wonder how willing they really would have been to call a radio program and discuss their issues on the air--first because their voices might have been recognized, and second, because caller id would give Kitty and the radio station their phone numbers and location. I found it surprising that so many would be willing to take such a risk.

But of course if they didn't, there wouldn't have been a book, so one has to assume that supernatural creatures are just on the cusp of coming out, and so such risks seemed justifiable.

This was a quick, but fun read (I read the whole book in about three hours--didn't even stay up past my bedtime). Something light and distracting but thoroughly enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2017

I’ve got the last Kitty book still waiting to be read, so I’m going to (hopefully) selectively re-read to get caught back up with the story.

It’s funny, I’ve re-read this before, but every time I forget precisely how complex the story and characters are.

After all, when Congress had trouble voting itself enough money to continue operating, how was I supposed to believe that this same government was behind a finely tuned clandestine organization bent on obfuscating the truth and manipulating world events according to some arcane plan for the domination of the minds and souls of all free people?

If vampires ever spend less time playing theatrics and living down to their stereotypes, they might actually take over the world someday.

Kitty, on the surface, isn’t particularly complicated–she’s a night radio DJ who accidentally starts a supernatural call-in show.

But under that are the pack dynamics, and how the man who is the alpha of her local pack dominates and controls his wolves, and how Kitty slowly escapes that control.

A thrill warmed me, a static shock up my spine. I hadn’t even touched her yet, but she was scared. Of me. I could breathe on her right now and she might scream. I narrowed my gaze and smiled.

This was why Carl got off on being a bully. This was how it felt to be strong.

And she takes a deeper look than most at the personal implications of being a preternatural creature.

“All the jokes about blood and the Eucharist aside— I can’t walk into a church anymore. I can’t go to Mass. And I can’t kill myself because that’s wrong. Catholic doctrine teaches that my soul is lost, that I’m a blot on God’s creation. But Kitty— that’s not what I feel. Just because my heart has stopped beating doesn’t mean I’ve lost my soul, does it?”

Odd how I forget those things in the intervening time between reads.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Kitty Goes to Washington (2006)

The best thing about supernatural fantasies are the fact that they're quick reads and a lot of fun.

Kitty Goes to Washington takes off where Kitty and the Midnight Hour left off. Kitty is on her own now, separated from her pack and unable to return to her home. She's doing her radio show in a different location every week, and having a pretty good time doing it. But she gets a surprise when she's subpoenaed to appear before the Senate on a hearing on paranaturals.

One of the things I like best about Kitty is that things are not easy for her. Being a rogue werewolf isn't easy for her, and she's at loose ends as to where she's going to live. It almost makes up for the fact that she's blonde and beautiful.

As with the previous book, I really enjoyed this story. The pace was fast, and the story frequently went in an unexpected direction, which I always like.

Not much to say otherwise. It's a good solid book, and fun to read. Though you'll want to read the other book first.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2017

The second Kitty book finds her taking her show on the road after being forced out of Denver, and the getting called to Washington to testify before a Senate hearing.

One of the best things about this book is the contrast between Alette the vampire and Senator Duke, the conservative evangelical Christian.

“I happen to believe that immortality ought to make one more sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden, and more apt to work towards the betterment of humanity. Not less. We have the luxury of taking the long view. I know the behavior of some of my kind leaves much to be desired, but please do not judge me by their example.”

Having recently re-read the short stories, I appreciate Alette even more. I do think that unless monsters truly did not have souls, then vampires like Alette would pop-up, just as Senators like Duke in the story show up far more than we’d like.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Audible version (2006/2009) narrated by Marguerite Gavin

I have the final Kitty book waiting for me to read, so I’ve been working my way back through the series in audio. (This is the second book.)

This book finds Kitty called to Washington to testify about the supernatural before a Senate committee.

Kitty meets a variety of people, some of whom were complex, like Alette, the vampire mistress if Washington DC, and Ahmed, the owner of a lycanthrope bar that is a safe house for any weres visiting the city. And it is these complex characters that really made the story.

There were some part of the story that I took issue with–the Bad thing that happens to Kitty unfolds in a way that still strikes me as odd. I like that Kitty gets to keep her agency, but I’m not sure about the liklihood of the way things happen.

Marguerite Gavin does a good job of narrating the story, getting the different voices.

Published by Tantor Audio

Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007)

Kitty-Takes-a-HolidayThe third book in this series takes off where Kitty Goes to Washington left off. After being exposed on national television, Kitty has decided to take a holiday to escape for awhile, and to write her memoirs--or attempt to write her memoirs. Unfortunately, her rural isolated cabin doesn't seem to be as isolated as she expected, as dead animals keep appearing on her porch--someone's attempt to drive her away.

The situation is further complicated by the arrival of Ben and Cormac, under circumstances that bode well for no one.

This book was full of surprises. Just as I thought I had a handle on where the story was going, there was another twist and things went off in another direction.

The strength of these books lies in Carrie Vaughn's storytelling. I devoured this book in two sittings--the first half of the book and then the second half of the book. I was so pulled into the story that putting the book down to go to bed was very difficult, and I knew better than to pick the book up again until after dinner.

Otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten anything done.

So the story went in unexpected (but reasonable) directions, and was interesting enough that I didn't want to put it down.

The other thing I like is that Kitty remains a fallible character. She remains unsure of herself, yet stands up to do what she believes needs to be done. She makes mistakes, but those mistakes are believable considering her situation (I'm always annoyed by characters who seemingly blindly and willfully make stupid mistakes, and then are shocked (shocked!) when things don't work out. Plenty of mistakes are made in this book, but they are honest mistakes.

SPOILER
(rot 13)
Nf zhpu nf V ungrq gb frr uvz raq hc gurer, V nccerpvngrq gung Pbeznp raqrq hc va cevfba. Ur znqr n zvfgnxr, naq ur arrqrq gb cnl sbe gung zvfgnxr, rira vs gung zvfgnxr bppheerq juvyr ur jnf qbvat jung jnf rffragvnyyl gur evtug guvat. Pbeznp xvyyf nyzbfg pnfhnyyl, naq rira vs ur bayl jrag nsgre perngherf gung jrer bhg bs pbageby, ur fgvyy gbbx gur yvsr bs nabgure fragvrag orvat.
END SPOLIER

About the only negative I have to say is that, like the previous two books, Kitty Takes a Holiday isn't serious reading. It's quick, it's fast, and it's fun. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's also nothing that's going to stick in my head and make me think about this book long after it's over.

So that's not really a negative per se. After all, sometimes light reading is just what one needs.

If you read the previous two books, then you should definitely enjoy Kitty Takes a Holiday. If you have not read a Kitty book before, then I recommend finding a copy of Kitty and the Midnight Hour. You'll want to read the previous two books before this one. And if you're at all interested in stories about supernatural creatures, you should enjoy these books.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2017

After being outed on national television as a werewolf, Kitty has gone to the mountains to recover and–theoretically–write a book.

Trouble was, you could get away from society and learn to be self-reliant, like Thoreau advocated. Turn your nose up at the rat race. But you couldn’t escape yourself, your own doubts, your own conscience.

But even Ben, her lawyer, thinks she’s running away.

“From this end it looks like you’re quitting.”

I looked away. I’d been comparing myself to Thoreau because he made running away to the woods sound so noble. It was still running away.

But even running away, Kitty can’t escape trouble. Someone is trying to curse her, and then Cormac shows up with Ben, who has been infected by a werewolf.

One of the things I especially like about this story is that just when you think things are over, they really aren’t, but not in a dead-monster-coming-to-life way.

Cormac has been skirting the law for years, and doing a lot of illegal things to keep the world safe from monsters. Which makes it all the more fascinating to see him in the legal justice system for doing just that–killing a monster.

It’s also a closer look at a subject that’s been covered by other writers of supernatural fantasy–that the current justice system isn’t set up to deal with supernatural creatures. What I find most fascinating is how it all comes down to fear and reactionism. Well, fascinating and terrifying, how people are willing to apply the label of other and then claim that rights don’t apply to the other.

Once again I’d forgotten how much these stories look at justice and nativism and how we treat the other. I’m very glad I’m rereading these books before moving onto the final story (which I’ve been sitting on for a ridiculously long time).
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Audible Version (2007/2009) narrated by Marguerite Gavin

This is the third Kitty book, and finds Kitty out in the woods, attempting to recover from the events of the previous book (where she was exposed to the world as a werewolf).

I’ve listened to the Kitty books while I’ve been canning, which means I’m concurrently listening to the Jane Yellowrock books on my daily walks (why two separate series? Because Michael helps me in the kitchen, and it seems rude to make him listen to a book that he’s missed the first part of the book (and earlier books in the series), and again I find myself disappointed in the narrator.

It’s not that she’s bad, it’s just that she’s not as good as some other audio book narrators, and suffers in comparison.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Tantor Audi

Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2007)

The fourth kitty book sees Kitty returning to Denver for a family emergency. Unfortunately, her return places her in the middle of a vampire turf war where she is requested to take sides.

As this was the fourth Kitty book, was I a little leery when I started reading, because in all honesty I was waiting for the story to take that down turn that many series do once their several books in. However, I was delighted that this book was as strong as they previous three. I’m not saying they’re great literature–but I will say that Carrie Vaughan is a very good storyteller, and in this book nails plot, pacing, and characterization.

There was just one thing in this book that bothered me–the speed at with which Kitty learned to shoot. However, as she has heightened physical skills and reflexes since she is a werewolf, her ability to pick up he basics of this physical skill actually makes sense, so that doesn’t even bother me.

This story ties up multiple plot lines: Kitty’s banishment from Denver, her relationship with the old packmaster of Denver, her relationship with Ben, and her friendship with Cormac. I particularly liked that she and Ben went to visit Cormac in prison. He remains responsible for his actions, and those actions were not simply waved away by the author but had consequences that we see.

Considering that this was a book I read in three hours, I appreciate that this series has its hidden depths.

I think what I like best about the Kitty series is that Carrie Vaugn gets right all the details that tend to bug me about most supernatural fantasies. The characters are good looking, but for the most part you’re not bludgeoned with their attractiveness, and we don’t have constant details of all the designer clothes the characters are wearing, although certain outfits are described as the need arises. Kitty does have a great deal of strength, but she also has weaknesses and deals with those weaknesses. Yes, she whines as we all do, but once she makes a decisions she sticks with it and finds a way. And she also realized that because of her weaknesses she must rely upon those around her, which I also appreciate. But mostly, Kitty is a very likable character, because she has flaws, but doesn’t let those flaws keep her from acting when necessary.

I also appreciate her complex relationships with the other characters, including her family who we finally get to meet. The only relationship that I was not completely sure about was her relationship with Detective Hardin. I’m not certain that things weren’t a little too easy for Kitty there, but considering the otehr problems with which Kitty has to contend, I was more than willing to let slide there.

If you enjoy supernatural fantasy, then I highly recommend the Kitty series. It has good characters, good stories, and good writing. And most importantly, it’s a lot of fun to read. I don’t, however, recommend starting with Kitty and the Silver Bullet but suggest instead going back to the first book in the series, Kitty and the Midnight Hour. This book covers a lot of history from the previous three books, and knowing and understanding that history makes this book all the more enjoyable.
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: March 2017

Cormac is in the clink. Kitty and Ben are trying to settle into the new pack of two. Then everything comes crashing down when Rick shows up asking Kitty to help him overthrow the supernatural power structure in Denver, followed by a call from Kitty’s father that her mother is having surgery for breast cancer and could she please come home?

I particularly liked this bit from her Kitty’s mom.

“Life is short,” she said. “I’m going to be completely decadent this week. To think, all those years I was worried about my weight. If I’d known I might lose it all in a heartbeat, I’d have eaten more ice cream.”

Eat more ice cream is a good philosophy.

There is a lot that happens in this book–lots of political maneuvering especially–but it’s complex and interesting.

Plus, Kitty has gone back to doing her show.

Here’s what I think, with the caveat that I may be wrong. I think we’re here to make the world a better place than we found it. I think we don’t always deserve the cards that we’re dealt, good or bad. But we are judged by how we play the cards we’re dealt. Those of us with a bum deal that makes it harder to do good—we just have to work a little more is all. There’s no destiny. There’s just muddling through without doing too much damage.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the growth of Kitty’ and Ben’s relationship. They are unsure about what they have, and whether it’s real or just something pushed upon them by their wolves.

Yet they’re still amusing.

“What is it?”

“I think we’re being followed.”

Oh, that was almost funny. I twisted around to look out the back window. “Are you serious?”

“Could you be a little less obvious?” Ben said.

“But this is hilarious. We’re being followed? Really? Do I get to shoot out the window next?”

“Kitty, sit down.”

I’m thoroughly enjoying re-reading this series.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

ADDENDUM the First: If you’re paying attention to the time stamps, I really am reading these books this quickly. Normally I’ll read several books before I get around to writing several reviews, but since I’m borrowing these ebooks from the library, I’m reviewing immediately and then returning the book to check out the next one. (I love being able to borrow books from the comfort of my sofa.)

Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand (2009)

Kitty and Ben are trying to plan for their wedding, and when they decide on a Vegas wedding, Kitty’s producer decides that would be a great opportunity for Kitty to try her hand at a live TV show.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand. I almost feel like there was too much going on: Dominic, Odysseus Grant, Balthasar and his “pack”, Kitty’s wedding, Kitty’s live TV show… It felt like the story jumped around when I would have liked to have spent more time focusing on one or two elements, instead of being overwhelmed by so many different plot ideas.

Then again, it was supposed to be an overwhelming action-packed weekend, so perhaps that’s the reason.

I also didn’t care for the ending of the epilogue (I should just learn never to read epilogues. It never ends well for me), but I was appeased by the fact that the next book is coming out in a month–and coming out in paperback. So I can live with that.

I’ll be curious to see which elements in this book are dropped and which are continued. Unless Kitty goes back to Vegas, I don’t see Dom coming back, but I would like to see more of Odysseus Grant.

If you like supernatural fantasy, this is still a good series, and I’m waiting impatiently for the next book.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2017

Kitty and Ben are getting married, but to make things simpler, they decided to run off to Vegas to do so, and KNOB manages to make it a work trip for Kitty, with a live televised show in Vegas.

Which resolves some of the issues Kitty and Ben were having with the planning.

“It’s a racket. What if we got my friend Joe to do it? He’s pretty good with a camera.”

“Isn’t he the one who’s the crime-scene photographer for the Denver PD?”

“So?”

I shook my head. My wedding was not going to be a crime scene. Not if I could help it.

Although there are bits of this book that I do like, such as this bit about last names…

Shaun’s grin seemed amused. To me he said, “Are you changing your last name?”

“Please. That’s so last century,” I said.

“What’s wrong with O’Farrell?” Ben said.

I glared. “Kitty O’Farrell? That’s not a name, that’s a character in a bawdy Irish ballad.”

…this is not one of my favorite books in the series.

For one, the plot seems all over the place, what with the vampires AND the magician (who is one of the characters I especially like from this series mind you) AND then wedding AND the werecat sacrificial cult AND the poker tournament AND the gun show and assassins. As I said, all over the place. Plus no one seems able to answer a straight question, which sometimes makes sense in context, but here? Not so much.

PLUS, it had one of those endings that ticked me off, with a huge PLOT DROP in the Epilogue.

Sorry, but I HATE things like that.

But to end on a more positive note:

“There’s a lot we can learn from the ancients. In some ways, those were better times.”

“I don’t know, I sort of like modern medicine, TV, women being able to own property and vote. All the modern conveniences.”

Yup, that’s how I feel about it too.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Kitty Raises Hell (2009)

WAH! Now I have to wait a whole year for the next Kitty book!

Picking up where we left off at the end of Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand, Kitty is back in Denver, and being haunted (quite literally) by the events that occurred in Vegas. Someone burned the name Tiamat into her bar, New Moon, and now her pack is threatened and she’s not sure where to turn, and other than her pack, she’s no longer sure who she can trust.

Unfortunately for her, more and more people are drawn into events, and that means more people who can get hurt.

First off, it was a quick, fun read. It took me four house–including stopping for dinner–to finish the book. The nice thing about the pace is it didn’t give me much time to stop and think about events, else I might have stopped to wonder who some of the individuals acted in the way they did. By the time I thought about it, the story had moved on and I’d already accepted things the way as they were.

Second, I really appreciate that Carrie Vaughn put out these two books in quick succession. I had cliffhanger endings, and having to wait only a month to find out what happened was nice. I think more authors should consider that–if you really must have a cliffhanger ending, the put out your books close together so we don’t have to spend so much time waiting. (I hate waiting.)

But what I especially liked was that Kitty Raises Hell was very amusing in places. Yes, lots of bad things happened, but Kitty managed to keep her sense of humor.

“Now, what does a vampire do with a computer? Keep track of investments? Send e-mail to other vampires as you all plot to take over the world?”

“I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia making corrections to the entries of historical figures I’ve known.”

That completely cracked me up.

So I enjoyed this every bit as much as I enjoyed the earlier books in the series. The story is well paced and well written, and Kitty is a lot of fun to read about.

This is not a good place to start the series. At the very least go back and read the book prior to this. But I think you’d be well-rewarded to start at the beginning and read the entire series through.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2017

This is, essentially, the sequel to Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand, but it’s reached the point in the series where more questions are being asked than answered (which is fine, as long as they’re not cliffhanger answers).

Tiamat is after Kitty, and something has followed her home from Vegas, bringing the fight to Denver. ALSO a paranormal TV show has come to Denver, looking at some of the haunted houses and areas, and Kitty decides to try and get them on the show. ALSO, TJ’s brother has followed his trail to Denver, and wants Kitty to lead him to his brother.

Like the previous book, there is a lot going on here (but not quite as much as before). Kitty and Ben are still working out their marriage, and to be honest, that’s one of my favorite things about this book and series–marriage isn’t all happily ever after. It’s work. And it’s nice to see books admitting that.

What all the stories and romances don’t say is that happily ever after doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it. You have to keep working at it.

Although it’s frustrating, I do like how Rick keeps much of his past a secret–and tease Kitty about it.

“Are you ever going to tell me the whole story?”

“It’s more fun watching your expression when I give it to you in bits and pieces.”

“Now, what does a vampire do with a computer? Keep track of investments? Send e-mail to other vampires as you all plot to take over the world?”

“I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia making corrections to the entries of historical figures I’ve known.”

I blinked at him. “Really?”

“No, Kitty. That was a joke.”

“Oh. Because, you know, maybe you should.”

That is a sense of humor. I do like that most of the loose ends from the previous story are tied up, but that we haven’t forgotten about important things happening in the background, such as Kitty’s Mom’s cancer treatment.

But this is another one of my not-favorite Kitty books, as far as the story goes.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Kitty’s House of Horrors (2010)

A TV producer shows up at the studio to ask Kitty to join a reality TV show starring the supernatural. Although she is wary of the idea, discovering that her friend is already signed up convinces Kitty to go ahead–after all, what could it hurt?

I find one of the characters–Conrad–very interesting. He denies the existence of the supernatural, and claims that all the evidence has been made up using tricks and film. As with previous books, I like how Carrie Vaughn addresses how the world at large deals with the evidence of the supernatural. Considering all the other things humans are capable of denying, that they would deny the existence of werewolves and vampires is unsurprising. People are very good at seeing only what they want to see.

Another strength of the book is how the actions taken by various characters continue to have consequences in the long term. Sometimes in books, things happen, but the consequences of those events drift off never to be heard from again. I like how the past often remains present in this series–even as Kitty continues to grow and move forward.

SPOILER (rot13)
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V jnf nyfb vagevthrq ol ure cynpvat vagbyrenapr naq ungerq sebag naq pragre va guvf obbx. Creuncf V’z ernqvat zber vagb gur fgbel guna vf gurer, ohg va znal jnlf vg srryf yvxr gur vagbyrenapr fhssrerq ol gur fhcreangheny punenpgref va znal bs gurfr obbxf, ersyrpgf gur vagbyrenapr gung fgvyy rkvfgf va bhe fbpvrgl. Vg vf fb rnfl sbe uhznaf gb pynffvsl pregnva tebhcf nf bgure, naq guhf yrff qrfreivat bs evtugf.

Jurgure fur vf checbfrshyyl ersyrpgvat gur vagbyrenapr sbhaq va fbpvrgl va ure punenpgref V qba’g xabj. Ohg V qb rawbl vg.
(END SPOILER)

I really like this series, and continue to recommend it. Could you start here? Yes. But as always, I think there is an advantage to going back in a series and starting from the beginning.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Re-Read: March 2017

Kitty–and several others–agree to be on a supernatural reality show, but all have suspicious as to what the producers are really planning.

“Okay. Fine. You know why horror-movie characters always get killed? Because they’ve never seen horror movies. They don’t know how it works. Right? But we do. So no one go into the basement alone. No one go screaming off into the woods alone. No one has any sex.”

Tina and Jeffrey actually looked at each other sadly. Oh my God, we had to get out of this.

The thing I’m not sure about this story is something that happens towards the beginning, so spoilers follow this (but the book’s been out for 7 years, so it’s not like I’m giving that much away).

What I don’t buy is their killing off the staff members who are not in on the plot. I can see that they might think it “acceptable” to kill supernatural and preternatural beings, and to think they could get away with it by claiming those beings were not people. But the cold blooding killing of the show staff? There is no way they thought they would not be put up on murder one charges for that.

So points off for, but points added for killing who had appearances other than in this book.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Grand Central Publishing

Kitty Goes to War (2010)

The title actually made me somewhat reluctant to read this book, despite the fact I have really enjoyed the other books in this series. Because despite being a werewolf, Kitty is still a radio host.

Luckily, Kitty does not, in fact, actually go to war herself. She does, however, attempt to help soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan–as werewolves whose alpha was killed and whose pack fell apart after his death. She also gets herself into a bit of a mess when her show on Speedy Marts gains the attention of the owner, who doesn’t like what she and her callers had to say.

I was quite pleased with this story, especially as there were moments I started to get irked with Kitty for missing the obvious only to have her suddenly realize what was right before her.

I also really liked the story arc with the soldiers. The fact that Kitty is alpha does make what she did seem more reasonable, and I particularly liked her analysis of the situation and what needed to be done.

Additionally, I was set to be all annoyed with where Cormac’s character arc was going, until I finally saw what happened and that things had been set up earlier. I also like the fact that Cormac spent several books in prison, and that Kitty took the time to visit him. As I’ve said before, I like books where actions have consequences, and I think Cormac’s arc has been very well done in that regard. Though I do have some concerns about where he’s heading, we’ll just have to see how things turn out.

One last thing–I like that Kitty and Ben’s relationship has turned out to be a solid marriage, with give and take. Huzzah for stories with solid, healthy relationships!

If you have not ready the previous books in the Kitty series, you could start here, although, as usual, many of the character arcs are better appreciated if you know how far the character has come. I’m glad that I am continuing to enjoy this series, when so many supernatural fantasy series seem to be boiling down to little more heroines with super-awesome powers and lots of boinking.
Rating: 7/10

Re-Read: March 2017

Book 8–since I was starting to lose track.

The story opens with the radio show. After hearing about it more times than might be coincidence, Kitty asks about strange and/or supernatural events that happened at or around Speedy Marts. And gets more information than she expected. She also gets a call from someone claiming that prior to some of the worst storms to hit, the owner had been there in the preceding days–more probably than coincidence would lead you to expect.

Kitty also receives a call from the woman running the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology–three special forces solders who are also were wolves have escaped from Fort Carson, does Kitty have any ideas on how they might capture them?

I am fascinated by the idea of how governments might use (and abuse) supernatural beings in war. I think Carrie Vaughn gets it right–if werewolves existed, the government would use them. And the government would also do a terrible job reintegrating those soldiers back into society.

His squad had an amazing record in Afghanistan. It was one of the most successful units we’ve fielded out there. They handled the terrain like it was nothing, they could travel for weeks without support, get to places nothing else could, track down damn near anything. They didn’t need body armor or NVGs—”

“NVGs?”

“Night-vision goggles,” Stafford said. “We had them hunting Taliban leaders in the Kunar Province, in the high country. Their success rate was . . . was worth everything, we thought.”

Additionally, now the Cormac is out of prison, Ben and Kitty are discovering that someone is…not quite the same with him.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Tor Books

Kitty’s Big Trouble (2011)

Kitty’s latest interest is finding historical figures that may have been supernatural creatures. Someone sends her some indirect evidence that General Sherman may have been a were, but Kitty’s attempts to have his body exhumed and tested are adamantly denied (and rightfully so). Then she comes across a story that Wyatt Earp might have been a vampire hunter and heads out to see if she can find any evidence of this.

While looking for trace of vampires, Kitty gets a call from the vampire Anastasia that Roman is in San Francisco attempting to get his hands on a powerful artifact, and can Kitty please come help?

Couple things about this story. First, despite Cormac’s possession by the ghost Amelia and new abilities to do magic, I’m having a hard time believing that his parole officer is lax enough to let him go gallivanting across the country. I really liked the fact that Cormac had to serve time, but I don’t much care for the brushing off of his parole this way.

Several reviewers don’t seem to care for this story for some of the reasons I enjoyed it. I liked the delving into history, and I really liked the gods that get involved in San Francisco. Of course, I’m a huge fan of folklore and mythology, and Chinese mythology is largely an untapped resource in supernatural fiction, so this was a nice change.

I also liked Cormac having to truly deal with Ben’s turning. He may have dealt with it on an intellectual level, but actually seeing his cousin change is something very different. Of course, I also have to wonder how much Amelia has to do with things.

I can’t say this is one of my favorite books in the series, but I did enjoy it, and continue to look forward to further books in the series.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Tor

Re-Read: March 2017

After finding an old interview with a Civil War soldier claiming that General Sherman was a werewolf, Kitty goes looking for a way to prove it one way or another. She’s also get some other historical figures who may or may not have been supernatural as well.

When a call for help from Anastasia takes Kitty, Ben, and Cormac out to San Francisco, things (as expected) go pear shaped.

“If you told me what was wrong, I might be able to help you.”

“I don’t think I can do that.”

“If it’s a secret—”

“No. I just don’t think I’m capable of explaining the last five hours to anyone.”

I think my favorite character in this story is Sun. But then, I’m a sucker for tricksters.

“That’s a pretty big dog,” Sun said.

“It’s not a dog, it’s my husband!”

“Huh. That’s progressive.”

“Shut up, he’s a werewolf, too.”

“Yeah? Hi there.” Sun waved.

Of course, I’m a particular fan of Asian mythologies, so I was pretty much bound to enjoy those parts of this book.

Sun Wukong is a Buddhist hero. Xiwangmu is a Taoist goddess, but they both end up in the same story about the Monkey King stealing the Elixir of Immortality from her.

There are also bits about Roman, as that story arc gets more and more threatening.
Rating: 7.5/10

Publishes by Tor

Kitty’s Greatest Hits (2011)

Il Est Ne – Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008)
A Princess of Spain – The Secret History of Vampires (2007)
Conquistador de la Noche – Subterranean Online (2009)
The Book of Daniel – Talebones #39 (2009)
The Temptation of Robin Green – The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (2009)
Looking After Family – Realms of Fantasy (2007)
God’s Creatures – Dark and Stormy Knights (2010)
Wild Ride – Running with the Pack (2010)
Winnowing the Herd – Strange Horizons (2006)
Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned – Weird Tales #338 (2006)
Kitty’s Zombie New Year – Weird Tales #345 (2007)
Life Is the Teacher – Hotter Than Hell (2008)
You’re on the Air
Long Time Waiting

Kittys-Greatest-HitsKitty’s Greatest Hits is a short story anthology, so its timeline is interwoven between the various Kitty books. There are also several stories that don’t have Kitty in them at all, although most of those stories contain peripheral characters, and all are set within Kitty’s world. I’d read several of these stories before, because I love short stories and buy anthologies containing authors I like when I come across them. That said, there were plenty of stories in this collection I had not read before.

My favorite story in the collection was probably “Conquistador de la Noche” which tells the story of how Rick was turned to a vampire. Even knowing that Ricardo de Avila was the Rick who appears in Kitty’s stories, I still worried about how he was going to get out of the mess he was in.

We also finally learn the story of what happened to Cormac in prison, and how he ended up working with Amelia. Although it was interesting to learn, I can’t say it was anything close to my favorite story. It wasn’t bad, but I often find Cormac hard to like. There are also stories of Cormac’s past, including a story with Cormac and Ben as young teens.

My favorite Kitty story was the first in the collection, “Il Est Ne” a story about a werewolf who was turned and then abandoned to his fate and stumbles across Kitty as she is trying to figure out how to deal with the mess of her own life.

If you have not read the Kitty books, this would be a good introduction to her world. None of the stories require knowledge or background of the books, and all give you a taste of both Kitty and the world she inhabits.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Tor

Re-Read: August 2014

Il Est Ne (Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008))
A Princess of Spain (The Secret History of Vampires (2007))
Conquistador de la Noche (Subterranean Online (2009))
The Book of Daniel (Talebones #39 (2009))
The Temptation of Robin Green (The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (2009))
Looking After Family (Realms of Fantasy (2007))
God’s Creatures (Dark and Stormy Knights (2010))
Wild Ride (Running with the Pack (2010))
Winnowing the Herd (Strange Horizons (2006))
Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned (Weird Tales #338 (2006))
Kitty’s Zombie New Year (Weird Tales #345 (2007))
Life Is the Teacher (Hotter Than Hell (2008))
You’re on the Air
Long Time Waiting

This is the short stories, all set in Kitty’s world, all in one place.

These are NOT all Kitty stories. I think Kitty makes an appearance in only half the stories. However, don’t let that dissuade you from this collection.

Carrie Vaughn is very good at writing short stories, and my favorite story in this collection is set long before Kitty was even born.

Il Est Ne (Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008)) finds Kitty alone and isolated on Christmas. Her story is told in parallel with that of David, a lone wolf who has been on his own since he was turned.

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” Jane said. “I play it every year.”

Oh, this was going to make Kitty cry.

The fact that Jane had spent enough years here to make it a tradition, not to mention she had the movie on videotape rather than DVD, somehow added to the depressing state of the situation.

A Princess of Spain (The Secret History of Vampires (2007)) is the story of Catherine of Aragon’s first marriage to Arthur, son of Henry the VII. . Why was Arthur so sickly? It’s a vampire story, but what really gets to me are the historical bits.

Catherine of Aragon, sixteen years old, danced a pavane in the Spanish style before the royal court of England… she had been sent by Spain to marry the eldest son: Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne, was thin and pale at fifteen years old.

Think about that for just a bit. She is 16, he is 15, and neither have any say about their political marriage.

Consider also that after Arthur’s death, Catharine will eventually marry his younger brother Henry, who would go on to become in somewhat infamous Henry VIII.

Conquistador de la Noche (Subterranean Online (2009)) is one of my favorite stories set in Kitty’s world. It’s the story of how Rick (Ricardo de Avila) became a vampire, and also gives you a glimpse into why he is so very different from the other vampires in Kitty’s world. It’s also the story of Coronado’s search for gold. It’s about a man turned against his will, and how his faith allows him to survive.

God, give me strength, Ricardo prayed, not knowing if God would listen to one such as him. Not caring. The prayer focused him.

Free will was part of God’s plan. What better way to damn the sinful than to let them choose sin over righteousness? But he had not chosen this. Had he? Had something in his past directed him to this moment? To this curse?

Then couldn’t he choose to walk away from this path?

Rick appears in the Kitty books and in another short story in this collection, and all those appearances are tinged with the character you see here.

The Book of Daniel (Talebones #39 (2009)). What is weres had existed at the time of the Torah? I really like this story as well.

The Book of Daniel is Daniel in the lion’s den. Not one of the best stories in the collection, but a fascinating idea.

The Temptation of Robin Green (The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (2009)) is a story in which Rick makes a brief appearance. Robin is a cryptozologist for the US Army, and knows about all kinds of monsters the government has been keeping secret from the public. It’s also a far more realistic look at what a secret government facility might be like than you normally see.

That whole concept both fascinates and horrifies me.

Looking After Family (Realms of Fantasy (2007)) is Cormac’s story, right after the death of his father, and how Cormac and Ben slowly developed their close friendship.

The rich playboys wanted their kills now. They’d paid their money and couldn’t understand why the animals didn’t just walk up to them and bare their necks.

The attitude showed a severe lack of respect for the animals.

As someone who grew up and came of age in a land where hunting was something done to feed your family, I agree with Cormac’s sentiment.

God’s Creatures (Dark and Stormy Knights (2010)) is another Cormac story. It’s set before Cormac meets Kitty, and is one of the first times Cormac seems to have doubts about what he does.

Wild Ride (Running with the Pack (2010)) is the story of how TJ became a werewolf. It’s a fascinating idea, actually, that men and women might become weres to escape a terminal illness.

It also has an interesting bit about Carrie Vaughn’s particular werewolf mythology.

“We’re all invulnerable. We don’t get sick. We don’t get hurt. Oh, we still age, we’ll all still die someday.

Winnowing the Herd (Strange Horizons (2006)) is a Kitty story, set before she started her Midnight Hour call-in show. It’s more of a glimpse into what like might be like for a werewolf rather than a true story.

This is one of my least favorite Carrie stories; possible this was Kitty’s first appearance?

Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned (Weird Tales #338 (2006)) finds Kitty curious about the success of a metal/punk band with a history of violence at their live shows. It’s not really about Kitty but about what other supernatural beings might exist along with weres, and how they might continue in the modern age. It’s another story that is far better than its name would lead you to believe.

Kitty’s Zombie New Year (Weird Tales #345 (2007)) is one of the saddest stories. Kitty is talked into spending New Year’s Eve with Matt, and everyone is surprised when a zombie shows up at the party. I hate zombies. Luckily, this is more a voodoo zombie than a BRAAAAAAAAINS zombie.

Life Is the Teacher (Hotter Than Hell (2008)) wasn’t one of my favorites. It’s the story of a young vampire and her first true hunt.

You’re on the Air is a very short story, giving the other side of a brief phone call in one of the Kitty books. What good is becoming a supernatural if you’re abandoned by the one who made you, and try to eek out a living with the kinds of jobs someone who can’t come out during the day can work.

Long Time Waiting is the story of how Cormac and Amelia Parker came to their agreement.

Some of the stories are glimpses into characters who (for various reasons) can’t be well-developed in the books, and some of those glimpses are pretty fascinating.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Tor

Re-Read: March 2017

As previously mentioned, I’m rereading some of the Kitty books so I can (finally) read the final book in the series.

Kitty Steals the Show (2012)

Kitty has come a long way from when she was first attacked. She’s now alpha of her own pack, and a public face for werewolves in the US, both because of her radio show, and her (involuntary) pubic outing as a were.

That status has led to her being asked to be the keynote speaker at the First International Conference for Paranatural Studies, in London.—Kitty just has to manage being shut in a flying metal box full of prey to get there.

I really love the Kitty series, and this is another great story.
Rating 7.5/10

Published by Tor

Re-Read: March 2017

Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are all headed to London. Kitty and Ben to attend the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, Cormac to look for Amelia’s family.

Luckily, Kitty has friends across the ocean, including Emma, Allete’s great(s)-granddaughter, and Tyler and Schumacher representing the US government’s interests.

We also meet some very interesting people, and get a look at how Old World vampires treat others (ie, not very well).

One of the characters I especially liked was Ned, the Master of London.

“Of all the secrets I could keep, the ones about myself are the least useful.”

He was a window into an amazing time and place— and I didn’t know where to start. So I teared up and tried to wave away the burst of emotion. Everyone was staring at me and all I really wanted to do was cry from the wonder of it all.

“Is she okay?” Emma asked Ben.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never seen her like this.”

“I get this reaction quite a lot,” Ned said cheerfully. I imagined it was one of the reasons he didn’t bother keeping his identity secret— he’d been a celebrity his whole life, why stop just because he’d become a vampire?

I think that is one of the things I like best about this series–is coming back to the idea that if vampires have lived for centuries, then they have to have met at least some important historical figures–and they certainly can tell us more about the times in which they lived than any history book.

“I will have Shakespeare, Marlowe, and John Donne scholars camped on my doorstep for the rest of eternity. Do you have any idea what I’d go through?”

I also liked the bits about the conference and just how technical and geeky it might get.

When the lecture opened with a physics joke—“ Vampires: alive or dead? Does Schrödinger’s cat walk among us?”— I knew I was in trouble.

Otherwise, the story is roaring along with more machinations by Roman and/or his people.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Tor

Kitty Rocks the House (2013)

kitty-rocks-the-houseWeirdly, this book was published in April, but it’s been sitting in The Pile, waiting for me to read it, and I just never got around to it.

Weird, because I usually thoroughly enjoy the Kitty books.

But after reading the last Jane True book, I decided I should try and clear some of these new releases off The Pile, so I grabbed Kitty Walks the House.

Now I’ve finished the book, I’m having as hard a time writing a review about it as I did getting around to read it.

Don’t get me wrong, this was NOT a bad book. But it did feel quite odd for a Kitty book. I was more than halfway through the book and wondering when the Big Bad was going to appear, or when was The Event that would be the center of this story going to happen. And I realized there wasn’t going to be a Big Bad, and there wasn’t going to be An Event.

In some ways, this felt more like several intertwined short stories rather than the Kitty novel I’m used to. Again, that’s not to say this was a bad story, but it kinda felt like it didn’t know what it wanted to do with itself. When most of the tension comes because Rick is refusing to return Kitty’s calls, it’s just… not what I was expecting.

Again, I’m making it sound like a bad story, and it wasn’t. I didn’t dislike one thing about this story, I just didn’t get particularly excited about anything.

I’m flipping through to the bits I marked, like this:

“As far as I know, no vampires live in Antarctica.”

“I’d have thought the long winter nights would be just the thing for you guys,” I said.

“Perhaps. But the food supply is a bit wanting.”

That’s actually a really interesting idea–how would a vampire manage in Antartica? But… it’s just a throw away line.

Or this:

“It makes perfect sense–immortal vampires are the best choice to travel the long distances between the stars. They’re the ones who would come to visit us here on earth.”

And again, this was just a throw-away line, part of her radio show.

The other things I marked were things that simply interested me, “(M)aster vampires gained power by creating and maintaining control over their progeny.” That’s an interesting idea. As is the Order of Saint Lazarus being an order of vampires.

Again, both of these were pretty much tossed out and then we moved on. Which I suppose is the problem I had with this book. There were lots and lots of interesting bits, but they never quite felt like they gelled into a cohesive whole.

But, it was still a pleasant escape for a few hours.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Tor

Re-Read: March 2017

Kitty is back in Denver, slowly rebuilding her show after the fall-out of her keynote speech in London. She and Rick are also working to build forces against Roman, a slow and very daunting prospect.

Having recently re-read Rick’s origin story, his actions in this book are far more understandable, but I don’t quite understand why he and his visitor aren’t more forthcoming about the dangers surrounding them–especially as those dangers did seem transferable to Kitty.

There is also an issue with a new wolf who wants to move into Denver. I do like how Kitty resolves that issue.

And I still find Cormac breaking his arm to be hilarious.

But not one of my favorite books.
Rating: 6.5/10

Published by Tor

Kitty in the Underworld (2013)

There are intruders in their territory, and with Ben out of town, Kitty goes out to investigate.

She’s kidnapped and pulled into a strange plan, seemingly centered on Roman and his plans for world domination, but it’s not clear who is friend and who is foe.

This was a very strange story, and although it was good, I won’t say I found it particularly enjoyable.

Though I did like learning a new Winston Churchill quote, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

I’d also like to note that this series always has GOOD covers. Kitty isn’t a fighter, and she isn’t made to look like one, but she also looks competent and is dressed in a sensible manner.

THANK YOU to whomever designs these covers.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Tor

Re-Read: March 2017

I still don’t like this story.

Rick is gone and Angelo is acting Master of Denver.

Roman has taken out one of the master vampires who was on their side, and everyone is worried that war is coming.

Meanwhile, Kitty gets kidnapped by a group led by an insane vampire, and instead of escaping when she has the chance, she stays.

I just have so very many problems with this story. First, they kidnap Kitty, then they claim they need her to voluntarily work with them. Besides the excuse of the vampire being insane, there is no reason they couldn’t have approached her directly for her help. The whole kidnapping and locking her up thing makes no sense.

Additionally, if a were is cut by a silver knife on an appendage, couldn’t they just cut off that arm or leg and survive? Why don’t they?

I just don’t understand why Kitty behaves as she does in this book, not at all, which makes it a frustrating read.

Published by Tor

Low Midnight (2014)

low-midnightThis is book 13 in the Kitty the Werewolf series, but Kitty is NOT the main character. This is Cormac’s book… well, Cormac and Amelia, the ghost who lives in Cormac’s head.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t much care for the previous Kitty book, Kitty in the Underworld, but it was obviously important to the series. Which is possibly why I put off reading this book for so long, but it might also be because this is Cormac’s book, rather than Kitty’s. I don’t dislike Cormac–I think he’s quite interesting, and he’s broke in interesting ways, but I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to read an entire book about him.

First, I didn’t mind spending an entire book with Cormac.

Second, this book ended abruptly, and is obviously leaving us hanging for the next book.

That irritates me, but it IS the penultimate book in the series, so I suppose it’s to be expected.

I did enjoy much of the banter between Cormac and Amelia, however.

You know, he thought to Amelia, nobody says spinster anymore.
Well, yes, certainly. Etymologically, the word was doomed, considering so few of the women called spinsters actually spun wool anymore. So what do people call unmarried adult women now?
Um. Women, he said.

And I did like this Amelia’s take on computers and technology.

It’s the illusion of being instantaneous, Amelia complained. It raises expectations intolerably.

Well that’s certainly true.

As far as this book goes? It’s the next to last book, and it furthers the story, but after this and the previous book, I’m rather nervous of how the final book is going to go.
Rating: 6/10

Re-Read: March 2017

Book thirteen and all that’s left is the finale.

This is NOT a Kitty book, this is a Cormac and Amelia book.

Amelia had insisted on putting magical protections on the laptop, a protective rune here and an arcane mark there. Cormac wasn’t sure electronics worked that way, that magic worked that way. It couldn’t hurt, Amelia had said. But it could, if it screwed up the computer’s inner workings.

We had electricity even in my day, Amelia had said grumpily. It’s all wires and power in the end. Making connections and letting in or keeping out energies that might be dangerous. Trust me.

His e-mail account had been strangely free of spam since he set it up.

This is quite different from the Kitty books, because Cormac is a very different character from Kitty. For example, he calls Kitty to let her know he is off to do something dangerous, but then doesn’t call her back to tell her he’s safe.

I’d want to kill Cormac.

I do like the back-and-forth between Cormac and Amelia.

You know, he thought to Amelia, nobody says spinster anymore.

Well, yes, certainly. Etymologically, the word was doomed, considering so few of the women called spinsters actually spun wool anymore. So what do people call unmarried adult women now?

Um. Women, he said.

Ah.

That still amuses me.

Cormac still ends up dealing with shady characters, and I do appreciate this quick summation of Layne.

“Nice place,” Cormac answered. “Family farm?”

“Someone else’s family,” Layne replied. “I got it cheap in a foreclosure a couple years ago.”

Which was Layne all over, really.

Although this book is primarily about unlocking the cypher to the Book of Shadows Kitty got in the previous book, I do like the look at Cormac and Amelia and am glad it ended up being more than just a short story.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Tor

Kitty Saves the World (2015)

The final Kitty book.

It’s all come to a head as they attempt to find and take down Roman, as they suspect he is attempting to destroy the world.

“Hey,” Ben said in greeting. “What’s up?”

“You’re not going to like it,” Cormac said. Which was a hell of a greeting. I’d have asked, How bad could it be? But this was Cormac, and my imagination failed me.

I liked that it was a plausible way of destroying the world–the method of which had been brought up a couple books earlier. I like that kind of planning.

And I really loved the rationale as to why Kitty was important.

“But there’s one thing I couldn’t change. One part of His creation I couldn’t break: free will. No matter how monstrous I made you, the vampires and werewolves, my soldiers and my children, I couldn’t make you be monsters. You still had a choice, to follow me or not.

I’m always a fan of free will, and I love the idea that for all that monsters were made for evil, they had the free will to fight for good.

Of course most of the characters who survived earlier books made an appearance here, albeit just a brief appearance in many cases.

I’m glad I went back and re-read the series before this final book. It allowed me to see the hints she’d been dropping for quite awhile as to how things might turn out.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Tor

 

Anthologies

 

The Secret History Of Vampires (2007)

"Under St. Peter's" by Harry Turtledove
"Two Hunters in Manhattan" by Mike Resnick
"Smoke and Mirrors" by P. D. Cacek
"Garbo Quits" by Ron Goulart
"Blood of Dreams" by Sarah A. Hoyt
"A Princess of Spain" by Carrie Vaughn
"Harpy" by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
"Honored Be Her Name" by John Gregory Betancourt and Darrell Schweitzer
"Ill-Met in Ilium" by Gregory Frost
"The Temptation of Saint Anthony" by Brian Stableford
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Ian Watson
"Green Wallpaper" by Tanith Lee
"Sepulchres of the Undead" by Keith Taylor

Published by DAW

 

Better Off Undead (2008) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Daniel M. Hoyt

Anthologies edited by Martin H. Greenberg are usually ones I can pick up knowing that I’ll like the majority of stories within.

This volume? Not so much. There were a handful of stories I thought were good, but for the most part? Meh.

A Grain of Salt - Sarah A. Hoyt
The Poet Gnawreate and the Taxman - Dave Freer
The Infernal Revenus Service - Laura Resnick
Mummy Knows Best - Esther M. Friesner
Genius Loci - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Ah, Yehz - Alan Dean Foster
Gamma Ray versus Death - Carrie Vaughn
Museum Hauntings - Irene Radford
My Teras Have Been My Meat - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Perfect Man - Fran LaPlaca
Two All Beef Patties - Jay Lake
That Saturday - Devon Monk
Walking Fossil - Robert A. Hoyt
Night Shifted - Kate Paulk
Twelve Stepping in the Dark - Rebecca Lickiss
Gobble, Gobble, One of Us - Charles Edgar Quinn
Bump in the Night - Amanda S. Green
Separation Anxiety - S.M. Stirling

...

And… that was about it. Like I said, most of the stories were meh, and some I actually disliked, but if you come across any of the above in another anthology, I highly recommend them.
Rating: 5/10

Published by DAW

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008) edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

Gift Wrap - Charlaine Harris
Haire of the Beast - Donna Andrews
Lucy, at Christmastime - Simon R. Green
Night Things Changed - Dana Cameron
Werewolf before Christmas - Kat Richardson
Fresh Meat - Alan Gordon
Il Est Ne - Carrie Vaughn
Perfect Gift - Dana Stabenow
Christmas Past - Keri Arthur
SA - J.A. Konrath
Star of David - Patricia Briggs
You'd Better Not Pyout - Nancy Pickard
Rogue Elements - Karen Chance
Milk and Cookies - Rob Thurman
Keeping Watch over his Flock - Toni L. P. Kelner

 

 

 

 

By Blood We Live (2009) edited by John Joseph Adams

Snow, Glass, Apples - Neil Gaiman
The Master of Rampling Gate - Anne Rice
Under St. Peter’s - Harry Turtledove
Child of an Ancient City - Tad Williams
Lifeblood - Michael A. Burstein
Endless Night - Barbara Roden
Infestation - Garth Nix
Life is the Teacher - Carrie Vaughn
The Vechi Barbat - Nancy Kilpatrick
The Beautiful, The Damned - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Pinecones - David Wellington
Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu - Norman Partridge
Foxtrot at High Noon - Sergei Lukyanenko
This is Now - Michael Marshall Smith
Blood Gothic - Nancy Holder
Mama Gone - Jane Yolen
Abraham’s Boys - Joe Hill
Nunc Dimittis - Tanith Lee
Hunger - Gabriela Lee
Ode to Edvard Munch - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Finders Keepers - L.A. Banks
After the Stone Age - Brian Stableford
Much at Stake - Kevin J. Anderson
House of the Rising Sun - Elizabeth Bear
A Standup Dame - Lilith Saintcrow
Twilight - Kelley Armstrong
In Darkness, Angels - Eric Van Lustbader
Sunrise on Running Water - Barbara Hambly
Hit - Bruce McAllister
Undead Again - Ken MacLeod
Peking Man - Robert J. Sawyer
Necros - Brian Lumley
Exsanguinations - Catherynne M. Valente
Lucy in Her Splendor - Charles Coleman Finlay
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky - John Langan
One for the Road - Stephen King

Vampires: The Recent Undead (2011) edited by Paula Guran

Vampires-The-Recent-Undead“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black
“This Is Now” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Sisters” by Charles de Lint
“The Screaming” by J.A. Konrath
“Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong
“La Vampiresse” by Tanith Lee
“Dead Man Stalking” by Rachel Caine
“The Ghost of Leadville” by Jeanne C. Stein
“Waste Land” by Stephen Dedman
“Gentleman of the Old School” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
“No Matter Where You Go” by Tanya Huff
“Outfangthief” by Conrad Williams
“Dancing with the Star” by Susan Sizemore
“A Trick of the Dark” by Tina Rath
“When Gretchen was Human” by Mary Turzillo
“Conquistador de la Noche” by Carrie Vaughn
“Endless Night” by Barbara Roden
“Dahlia Underground” by Charlaine Harris
“The Belated Burial” by Caitlin R. Kiernan
“Twilight States” by Albert Cowdrey
“To the Moment” by Nisi Shawl
“Castle in the Desert: Anno Dracula 1977? by Kim Newman
“Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell
“Vampires Anonymous” by Nancy Kilpatrick
“The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan

It has taken me an almost embarrassingly long time to finish this. How long you ask? I purchased it a couple months after it was published–that long ago.

The problem is I hit a point where I wasn’t interested in a story, and instead of just skipping to the next story, I put the whole thing down. I know, rookie mistake. (But you’ll see I made it several times, so I decided to just finish off these anthologies, and if I didn’t like a story? SKIP.)

...

“Conquistador de la Noche” by Carrie Vaughn

This is perhaps my favorite Carrie Vaughn short story. It is the story of how Rick-Ricardo de Avila–became a vampire.

Ricardo smiled. “I am a loyal subject of Spain and a child of God who has been saddled with a particularly troublesome burden.”

Rick has always been a particularly enigmatic character in the Kitty books, and I loved this glimpse into how he was turned.

...

So, it was an uneven anthology for me, but there were some very good stories that are well-worth the price of the anthology.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Prime Books

Running with the Pack (2010) edited by Ekaterina Sedia

When I saw there was a new werewolf anthology edited by Ekatrerina Sedia with a story by Carrie Vaughn I automatically ordered it. Then of course, once it arrived, it sat around like anthologies tend to do, waiting for the “right” time to read it. But eventually read it I did, and it was excellent, with a few caveats, the biggest being, the anthology should not have ended on the story it did. On the plus side (and this is huge plus in my opinion) these are stories that deal with werewolves without all the hawt supernatural sex. A couple stories acknowledge sex, but the focus of these stories is upon the other aspects of being a werewolf, which I very much enjoyed, because there is a lot to explore in this mythos and this anthology does a very good job of moving beyond the paranormal romance aspect of werewolves.

...

The anthology opened with Carrie Vaughn‘s story Wild Ride, which was not about Kitty Neville, but instead about a young man, T.J. who has just been diagnosed with HIV. I really like that Carrie not only didn’t fall back on a story with an already familiar character, but that she instead wrote a very different kind of character from what she normally writes. Plus, it a very good story (and as a bonus, no boinking!).

...

All in all, this is an excellent anthology, and one I can highly recommend.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Prime

Dark and Stormy Knights (2010) edited by P.N. Elrod

I can’t help myself–I love anthologies. And fantasy anthologies with writers who write their fantasy with a healthy does of mystery? Sign me up! All anthologies have high and low points, but overall this was a fairly strong group of stories.

...

The final story was Carrie Vaughan‘s “God’s Creatures” which stars Cormac early in his career, before meeting Kitty. Again, I liked stepping into a characters past, and I also liked learning more about a secondary character–a nice twist that brings you into the world that already exists, but doesn’t do anything to ruin the ongoing storyline if you’re not familiar with the author.

Yes, there were other stories, but they weren’t particular favorites. but the stories mentioned above are well worth the price of the book, especially if you’ve not read stories by these authors before.
Rating: 8/10

Published by St Martin’s Griffin

Full Moon City (2010) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Darrell Schweitzer

I love anthologies. Though I have to admit that with the way paranormal romance has taken off, the ratio of wheat to chaff has been unfavorable for me. However, Carrie Vaughn and Peter S. Beagle were pretty compelling reasons to get this anthology.

The Truth about Werewolves - Lisa Tuttle
Innocent - Gene Wolfe
Kitty Learns the Ropes - Carrie Vaughn
No Children, No Pets - Escher M. Freisner
Sea Warg - Tanith Lee
Country Mothers' Sons - Holly Phillips
A Most Unusual Greyhound - Mike Resnick
The Bitch - P.D. Cacek
The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue - Holly Black
Weredog of Bucharest - Ian Watson
I Was a Middle-Age Werewolf - Ron Goulart
Kvetchula's Daughter - Darrell Schweitzer
And Bob's Your Uncle - Chelsa Quinn Yarbro
The Bank Job - Gregory Frost
La Lune T'Attend - Peter S. Beagle

...

Although there were several stories I didn’t particularly like, but all in all, the stories that were good were very good, and well worth the price of the anthology.
Rating: 8/10

Down These Strange Streets (2011) edited by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin

If you look at the list of authors above, you’ll immediately see why I read this series. There are some of my favorite authors here–many of whom write short stories I tend to love. And surprisingly, I loved most of these stories, especially a few by authors I haven’t particularly read before.

Death by Dahlia - Charlaine Harris
The Bleeding Shadow - Joe R. Lansdale
Hungry Heart - Simon R. Green
Styx and Stones - Steven Saylor
Pain and Suffering - S.M. Stirling
It’s Still the Same Old Story - Carrie Vaughn
The Lady Is a Screamer - Conn Iggulden
Hellbender- Laurie R. King
Shadow Thieves - Glen Cook
No Mystery, No Miracle - Melinda Snodgrass
The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery - M.L.N. Hanover
The Curious Affair of the Deodand - Lisa Tuttle
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies - Diana Gabaldon
Beware the Snake - John Maddox Roberts
In Red, With Pearls - Patricia Briggs
The Adakian Eagle - Bradley Denton

...

Carrie Vaughn’s story “It’s Still the Same Old Story” features Rick the vampire, and I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed her other stories involving Rick. Kitty makes no appearance here, although the story is set in her world. This is a story of revenge served cold, but also looks (as do her other stories about Rick) at how it would be to watch the mortals around you die while you remain unchanged. Again, another very good story.

...

All in all, I found this to be a fabulous anthology, and I highly recommend almost all the stories I read–even the ones I didn’t love were, for the most part, interesting.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Penguin

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011)
edited by Justin Gustainis

those-who-hunt-monstersAs the title says, this is a collection of supernatural mysteries.

“Little Better than a Beast: A Marla Mason Story” by T. A. Pratt
“Dusted: A Cosa Nostradamus Story” by Laura Anne Gilman
“The Demon You Know… A Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Story” by Julie Kenner
“The Spirit of the Thing: A Nightside Story” by Simon R. Green
“Holding the Line: A Jill Kismet Story” by Lilith Saintcrow
“Defining Shadows: A Detective Jessi Hardin Story” by Carrie Vaughn
“Deal Breaker: A Quincey Morris Story” by Justin Gustainis
“See Me: A Smoke and Shadows Story” by Tanya Huff
“Soul Stains: A Vampire Babylon Story” by Chris Marie Green
“Under the Hill and Far Away: A Black London Story” by Caitlin Kittredge
“An Ace in the Hole: A Sazi Story” by C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
“Hell Bound: A Hell on Earth Story” by Jackie Kessler
“Impossible Love: A Piers Knight Story” by C. J. Henderson
“Running Wild: An Outcast Season Story” by Rachel Caine

This was, as sometimes happens, a mix of stories I liked and didn’t like, though there wasn’t any particular story I thought was terrible. Just stories that were more or less to my personal taste. There were also several stories I had previously read.

...

“Defining Shadows: A Detective Jessi Hardin Story” by Carrie Vaughn. I had JUST read this one in the anthology Weird Detectives. It’s a very unusual vampire story.

...

All an all, an interesting anthology, and would I can easily recommend–especially if it’s still only $3.
Rating: 7/10

Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing  

Hex Appeal (2012) edited by P.N. Elrod

As I was expecting, this collection was a mixed bag. Luckily, the good stories were very good, and worth the price of the anthology.

...

The second author I bought the book for was Carrie Vaughn. Her story, “The Arcane Art of Misdirection,” is set in her Kitty the werewolf world, and Odysseus Grant makes an appearance. Like the Ilona Andrews story, there was no sex.

...

But all in all, it was well worth the price of admission for the stories I did like.
Rating: 8/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

 

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius (2013) edited by John Joseph Adams

mad-scientists-guide-to-world-dominationThis is the third anthology I’ve read by John Joseph Adams, and I must say that he has a good rack record for creating anthologies with stories I really like. He also has a good mix of stories, some of which I am guaranteed not to like, but that’s okay, because it’s good to read stuff I don’t normally read, and if I really don’t like a story, I can always skip on to the next (even though I rarely do that).

The stories I liked best in this anthology were the straight-up cackling Evil Overlord sort (you know that list, right?), because they were funny. The ones I liked least tended to be the more serious ones, because, well, evil in its true form exists in the world, and it’s generally funny at all.

...

“Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution” by Carrie Vaughn was a fun steampunk romp. Harry and Marlowe are visiting Doctor Carlisle, who has been under house arrest at his castle since The Incident. Harry believes he has been up to something, but wants proof. I liked both characters and I liked the story idea but I also liked that it was a well done short story.

...

Aside from the anthology ending on several depressing notes, this was all-in-all a varied and very good collection of stories, with something for everyone. After all, the stories I disliked were not bad, they were just not my type of story.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Tor Books

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran

weird-detectives-recent-investigationsThis is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I’d already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I’d read before were well worth reading again.

This book has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be read, primarily because I got it in trade paperback, and it’s huge and heavy–just the kind of book I hate reading. Too heavy and too bulky for comfortable reading. But the stories drew me in and didn’t let me go. (Though the book itself was why I lacked patience for stories I’d recently read or didn’t catch my interest immediately.)

“The Key” by Ilsa J. Blick
“The Nightside, Needless to Say” by Simon R. Green
“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher
“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman
“Cryptic Coloration” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Necromancer’s Apprentice” by Lillian Stewart Carl
“The Case of the Stalking Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod
“Defining Shadows” by Carrie Vaughn
“Mortal Bait” by Richard Bowes
“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs
“Imposters” by Sarah Monette
“Deal Breaker” by Justin Gustainis
“Swing Shift” by Dana Cameron
“The Beast of Glamis” by William Meikle
“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter
“Like a Part of the Family” by Jonathan Maberry
“Fox Tails” by Richard Parks
“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris
“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark
“See Me” by Tanya Huff
“The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Initially, I was just going to flip through and read stories by authors I love, but then I ended up just reading straight through. Having no patience, if I story didn’t immediately grab hold, I didn’t finish it, and if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed it the first time (or had read the story very recently), I didn’t give it a second read.

...

“Defining Shadows” by Carrie Vaughn is set in Kitty’s world, but is not a Kitty story, although Cormac makes an appearance. Instead it’s a story centering on Detective Hardin of the Denver PD Paranatural Unit, who has interacted with Kitty in the past. I quite liked this story, and Detective Hardin, who is investigating half a body discovered in a shed. I vaguely remembered reading this previously, but enjoyed it again.

And I found the “bad guy” completely fascinating.

...

As I said, this contained a lot of stories I’d read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don’t have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.
Rating: 8/10 

Dangerous Women (2013) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

Dangerous-Women“Some Desperado” (Red Country story) by Joe Abercrombie
“My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
“Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
“Bombshells” (Harry Dresden story) by Jim Butcher
“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
“Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
“Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson
“A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
“The Girl in the Mirror” (Magicians story) by Lev Grossman
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
“City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
“Virgins” (Outlander story) by Diana Gabaldon
“Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
“Pronouncing Doom” (Emberverse story) by S.M. Stirling
“Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
“Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
“Lies My Mother Told Me” (Wild Cards story) by Caroline Spector
“The Princess and the Queen” (A Song of Ice and Fire story) by George R.R. Martin

There are a lot of different stories here–on purpose.

Dangerous Women was conceived of as a cross-genre anthology, one that would mingle every kind of fiction, so we asked writers from every genre— science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical, horror, paranormal romance, men and women alike— to tackle the theme of “dangerous women,”

Thus I was fully expecting there to be a number of stories I wouldn’t particularly like, or would even skip. And there were. Unfortunately for me, the dislikes were higher in number than the likes, and there were several dystopias, which I really dislike. And a lot of the women were in the neutral to evil category of dangerous. Which is fine, but all that dark got a bit overwhelming, which is why I took several months for me to finish this anthology.

...

“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn is an historical, and one a especially liked. It’s the story of the Russian fighter pilots of World War II, we get a bit of Liliia Litviak, which was an amazing (and real) woman.

...

All in all, there were more stories I disliked than liked, which sometimes happens. As this covers all diffeerent genres, you’re likely to find at least one story you like, you’ll just have to decide if it’s worth the price.
Rating: 5.5/10

Published by Tor Books

Magic City: Recent Spells (2014) edited by Paula Guran

Magic-City-Recent-Spells

Table of Contents
“Street Wizard” by Simon R. Green
“Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak
“Grand Central Park” by Delia Sherman
“Spellcaster 2.0” by Jonathan Maberry
“Wallamelon” by Nisi Shawl
“-30-” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs
“Stone Man” by Nancy Kress
“In the Stacks” by Scott Lynch
“A Voice Like a Hole” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Arcane Art of Misdirection” by Carrie Vaughn
“Thief of Precious Things” by A.C. Wise
“The Land of Heart’s Desire” by Holly Black
“Snake Charmer” by Amanda Downum
“The Slaughtered Lamb” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Woman Who Walked with Dogs” by Mary Rosenblum
“Words” by Angela Slatter
“Dog Boys” by Charles de Lint
“Alchemy” by Lucy Sussex
“Curses” by Jim Butcher
“De la Tierra” by Emma Bull
“Stray Magic” by Diana Peterfreund
“Kabu Kabu” by Nnedi Okorafor
“Pearlywhite” by Mark Laidlaw & John Shirley

...

“The Arcane Art of Misdirection” by Carrie Vaughn was set in her existing world, with a character who has made brief appearances in Kitty’s world, but requires no knowledge of that world or the characters therein. (You’re quite into the story before you realize you’ve met one of the characters in the Kitty books, so you lose nothing if you haven’t them.)

...

All in all this is a marvelous collection, that I highly recommend.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Prime Books

 

 

Carrie Vaughn's website