Review: Kitty Goes to War

Posted: October 25, 2010 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Carrie Vaughn, Urban Fantasy, Books for Chicks

Carrie Vaughn‘s urban fantasy series about werewolf Kitty Norville who hosts a paranormal call-in radio show adds #8 to list with KITTY GOES TO WAR (Amazon) — there are two more slated to finish the series. Vaughn’s series is the kind where you can read each book as a standalone, but they’re that much more layered if you’ve read the others. The same applies to WAR, you can enjoy the story on its own.

In KITTY GOES TO WAR, Kitty is contacted by a doctor at the government’s center for paranatural biology to help with a problem. Three Green Beret soldiers have been brought back from Afghanistan after their unit went haywire. Unfortunately, they’re werewolves and incapable of reintegrating into a non-militarized setting, especially after the death of their alpha. Being cooped up in a government facility where the walls are coated in silver doesn’t help their attitude, either.

Since this is Kitty, problems are never simple. At the same time she’s trying to help three very violent werewolves, the CEO of the Speedy Mart franchise, Harold Franklin, is suing her for libel. You see, she spent one of her shows speculating with callers about mysterious events happening at Speedy Marts around the country. Franklin’s overly quick reaction to mere speculation–and to a late-night spook show, even–makes Kitty reasonably suspicious that perhaps there is something unusual going on after all.

Kitty has changed a lot over the series, and in a good way. Here she continues to have doubts about whether she’s doing the right thing, but she puts on a good front for the sake of those she’s responsible for. She makes a great heroine, in that she’s still completely female and soft-hearted, but she’s got the courage to do what’s difficult. She’s been a werewolf long enough that she’s accepted it, and feels compelled to help others cope, too. With her is her lawyer-werewolf-husband Ben, whose intelligence, voice of reason, and support makes them a great team. And finally there’s Cormac, the third-wheel, former paranormal bounty hunter, who’s finally out of prison, sporting secrets of his own.

In KITTY GOES TO WAR, Kitty is contacted by a doctor at the Center for Paranatural Biology to help a solider whose unit is in trouble.

Vaughn’s prose is no-nonsense storytelling that’s quick-paced, but flows easily. Kitty’s first-person PoV is filled with humor and insight, making situations that should be ridiculous easier to swallow. Vaughn’s a solid storyteller, consistent and polished, even if a little predictable; but, hey, that’s what her readers like, and makes for great pool-side summer reading.

Complaints? Not a whole lot. It’s hard to be sticky knowing what kind of genre it is going in. The secondary characters could have more depth. The climax could have been less contrived with Cormac’s big reveal of what really went on in prison. These are, unfortunately, pitfalls of using first-person PoV. Compared to the early books in the series, there’s more about how werewolf behavior stands out, how it’s a culture within a culture that must be taken seriously. However, Vaughn could have done more with the werewolf culture, as WAR only shows its surface when there’s a whole lot more to explore. There’s also hints about what else is out there, such as wizards, faerie, and vampires, but while those will take the form of friends or enemies in the series, we don’t get a lot of background detail. If Vaughn gave the setting more depth, this series could really have some meat on its bones.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Just a handful
  • Violence: Mostly a lot of werewolf posturing, but the end does have fighting and blood that's moderately graphic
  • Sex: With Kitty happily married it's toned down compared to previous novels

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