Nightshade was just the right book to get me back into reading after having a baby.
We boxed up every book we owned and mailed it to ourselves in Texas. This was the only book I left out and so, on the five hour plane flight while Ella slept (bless that little baby's heart), I read.
I hadn't done much reading since her birth, consumed with the move and the whole "new baby" thing and this book suddenly had me aching to get to the library and start reading again. I looked forward to every time Ella needed to eat, so I could read another twenty or thirty pages.
Look, I know as well as anyone that vampires and werewolves are getting to be a hard sell these days. The letter that came with this book even mentioned how everyone is sick of vampires and I thought to myself, "Um, yeah. And werewolves TOO."
And then I loved this book in spite of myself, so I guess the joke is on me.
Calla is a werewolf. More importantly, she's an alpha. She and her family belong to a pack called Nightshade; when she's 18, she'll be married to Ren, another teenage alpha of the Bane pack. Their union will mark the formation of a new pack, which they will lead. The wolves are Guardians, the warriors for the Keepers (each pack has a Keeper who is over the whole pack, even the alphas).
Calla likes Ren well enough and isn't opposed to their union. She's torn between her attraction to him and her dismay at his reputation as a teenaged womanizer. They're cautiously making steps toward bringing their packs together, but she finds it hard to not be swayed by Ren's good looks and obvious flirting with her, so she tends to put up a pretty cold front. Her own romantic experiences are pretty much zero, because an alpha female is expected to be totally pure and Calla has toed the line in that regard.
Where she's failed to toe the line, however, occurred during one of her regular patrols. A human boy was on the mountain that houses a sacred cave and was attacked by a grizzly bear. Calla, breaking all Guardian rules, saves his life by having him drink a little of her blood and then returning him to his truck at the base of the mountain. If her actions are discovered by the Keepers, it is likely she'll be killed.
And then that human boy, Shay, turns up at her school (which is half Guardians and Keepers and half humans who know something is weird about their classmates and keep their distance) and obviously recognizes her. And even more strangely, he appears to be connected to her world somehow, even though he's a human. The Keepers go so far as to tell the pack to watch out for him and keep him safe.
Calla takes this responsibility seriously which means Love Triangle Alert!
There is a lot going on in this book. Calla starts finding out more and more about the history of the Guardians and the Keepers and she's troubled by some of what she learns. There are the all sorts of relationships that are being held together by only very fragile ties and power struggles from every direction.
I am someone who rarely rarely guesses a plot twist (Bart ALWAYS guesses them), but this one I saw coming a mile away. Did that lessen my enjoyment? Not even a little.
The relationships in this book are stellar - the secondary characters are just as real and intense as the main ones. I particularly loved Calla's younger brother, who is part of her pack and a just downright lovable guy.
One review of this book said it was a really well-balanced love triangle, but I am afraid that it's not going the direction I want it to. I strongly strongly prefer one of the boys, but I won't tell you which one it is - human or werewolf. I'm hoping that, in the end (and oh yes, of course there will be more books in this series), she'll end up with the one I like more.
The cover on this one strikes me as a bit strange. It's beautiful, yes, but it also makes it seem more. . .I don't know, magical/mystical than the book really is. Calla's no ice queen - she's a warrior, through and through, and I don't think this cover reflects that at all.
Usually I don't like to post about a book too long before it comes out (this one makes its appearance on October 19, 2010), but I'm really looking forward to this one and also I'd like to pass along my copy to someone who is interested.
So, leave a comment before Wednesday, Sept 8th at midnight and I'll randomly select a winner and send you my copy. It'll be fun!
Advance Reader Copy provided by Penguin