Jane Yellowrock, vampire hunter for hire, also happens to be a Skinwalker, a creature from Native American folklore that can assume the forms of various animals. She gets a job from a prominent vampire clan in New Orleans to off what they think is a rogue vampire that has been killing humans and other vampires. This is the first in the series and for once I have managed to start from the beginning. Unfortunately, I was not as happy with it as I thought I would be. I don't want to make it seem like it was awful-- it wasn't, and it was quite good in some spots. It just wasn't as good as I wanted or expected it to be. But I'm hoping that things will be less rough around the edges in the later novels of the series. This one gets three stars, but just barely. Really, by my criteria, I should give it a two for being "fair," but there were certain bits I liked a lot.
For one, I liked Jane Yellowrock. Her background (Cherokee and Skinwalker) was pretty interesting, as well as her relationship with the animal spirit called Beast who coexists in her. I'm not super familiar with a lot of UF, but this seemed pretty original to me. And she was tough. Me, being a guy, I really didn't get it when she found some of the men attractive (Troll, Bruiser, Rick). But that's just my hetero-male perspective. Hard for me to understand what she saw in those dudes. Thankfully, there was no romance here. Just Jane being tough and that's fine. I know many stories feel like they have to have the hero(-ine) getting it on with somebody at some point in the story, but that gets old to me and it was nice to have a protagonist that was professional and goal-oriented.
The things I liked, though, were also things I didn't like. Jane was tough, but sometimes it seemed like she was overcompensating. She was kind of a jerk sometimes, and not in a funny House
way. Just seemed like she was trying too hard to be Tough Chick, what with the leather and the motorcycle and all. But sometimes it seemed like the author was trying to soften her image up, as in the case of Jane's fondness for dancing and the shopping scene, but that didn't really work for me. It just made her seem stupid and flighty which was inconsistent with the rest of her personality. I mean not everywoman
has to love dancing and shopping-- especially when there are vampires to kill.
Secondly, while I was really into the tense relationship Jane has with her Beast spirit and find the potential for power plays between the two great possible plot points in the future, reading Beast's POV got tedious. When Jane shape-changed the POV switches to Beast's first-person narrative. Lots of Beast-talk there. As in short, choppy sentences. Smells of blood. Hunger in stomach. Mark of anal scent glands. Teeth tearing through meat. Hulk smash. Actually, aside fom the tedium of reading through how a beast spirit might narrate, I think the whole experience of a beast spirit would be far too disparate from a human POV to narrate convincingly. I much would have preferred to hear Jane's voice narrate Beast's actions from her own POV. Also, if that were the case, we could have heard Jane deal with her occasional frustration with the lack of control that comes when she takes a back seat to Beast. The change in POV was an interesting idea, and a nice try, but ultimately failed for me. I skimmed a lot of pages when Beast took over.
Plot wise, the story didn't feel that focused. It was confusing in bits. Jane kind of stumbled around in her investigation, which didn't seem so professional to me. The supporting characters (the vampires, the cops, etc) were quite generic. I was bored and didn't care about a third of the time. So why three stars and not two? Because I still want to read more and I will probably get to the others in the series eventually. This first book was okay, if not really good IMHO, but it was good enough to make me want to hang out with Jane Yellowrock a bit longer. And it could be that I am just in a grumpy and irritable mood. Was I totally happy with this book? No. Would I recommend it to a friend? You bet.