Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kitty's Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Norville is a werewolf and a radio show host working out of Denver. Once she was an abused member of her local pack, but after fleeing the city, she found love and a spine. Now married to a lawyer named Ben, who is also a werewolf, she and Ben lead their local pack in Denver, having taken out the former abusive Alpha and his bitch of a wife (bitch being literal here).

In her last adventure, Kitty discovered that the military was using werewolves as "Supersoldiers" in Iraq. But when they returned stateside, they were having problems adjusting to their new lives, and they attempted to use Kitty to try and help the soldiers. During her time helping them, she discovered some interesting information, and wondered if any famous soldiers from the past might have been werewolves as well. In particular, she discovers testimony from a soldier during the Civil War that William Tecumseh Sherman might have been a werewolf, and she is fascinated by the possibility.

Taking off with Ben, and his brother Cormac, a former Vampire and Werewolf slayer and now sharing his body with Amelia, the spirit of a dead wizard, she takes off to Dodge City, Kansas to try and figure out if Wyatt Earp was a vampire or a werewolf. But in the National Park where Earp would have had jurisdiction, they discover a vampire rising from the grave in a former homestead site. The vampire isn't happy to see them and when they mention Earp's name, he attacks them, forcing them to kill him for good.

What's strange is that the vampire wears a strange coin on a chain around his neck. The coin is so old that they can't tell where it is from, but it's marked with strange sigils, and Cormac's wizard friend wants to study it, so they take it with them. They also get in some minor trouble with the local pack, who view them as intruders, until they find out who Kitty is, and it turns out one of the members of the pack is a big fan of hers, so that pretty much gets them out of the trouble. But on the way out of Dodge, Kitty gets a phone call from Anastasia, a powerful vampire living in San Francisco.

Anastasia has put herself in opposition to Roman, another extremely old and powerful Vampire, and she needs Kitty's help to keep an important artifact known as the Dragon's Pearl, out of his hands. Roman has been using his powers to turn vampires of his line into an unstoppable force of soldiers, and he needs the Dragon Pearl to make enough amulets so that he can have complete and utter control over them. Anastasia wants Kitty's help in preventing Roman from achieving his goals, and she needs Kitty and Ben's help, since unlike Roman or Anastasia, Kitty and her pack can move around by daylight.

But the artifact in question may be more powerful than either Anastasia or Kitty know, and its theft by Roman might stir up more than just a few vampires or werewolves. Kitty knows that Vampires and Werewolves exist, but is she ready to admit that other things, even more powerful than Vampires and Werewolves, are interested in this conflict between Anastasia and Roman and ready to throw themselves into the breach on one side or another? And when she and Ben must fight an actual God of Chaos of the Chinese Pantheon, are they going to be able to face off against it, or will they just die before the might of an actual God? Can Kitty's worldview survive learning that more things than she ever dreamt of really exist? Or will she die if she can't change her mind,,, and her way of life?

I loved this book. Kitty, as usual, has gotten a bee in her bonnet, in this case, proving that William Tecumseh Sherman is a werewolf, and she throws herself whole-heartedly into finding proof or disproof of her suspicions. That's the question that hangs over the first 1/3 of the book, but then she is drawn into the conflict between Anastasia and Roman, and it's kind of forgotten in the battle to keep the Dragon's Pearl out of Roman's hand.

And here we get to see Kitty's world enlarge once again. Now, not only does she learn that Vampires and Werewolves are not the apex predators, but that there are things in this world ever more powerful than those roaming the world. Readers who are into manga or anime will twig to who the two characters Kitty meets in this volume are faster, but let's just say that one of them is Sun Wukong, the Chinese name of the character known as "Son Goku" in Japan. I won't say any more than that, because that's enough for some readers to figure out who these characters are.

This was an interesting volume. Kitty points out that once again, she is being treated like a mushroom, kept in the dark and fed on crap. But it's also clear that she will soon have to step into the spotlight once again to be a spokeswoman for Werewolves, to keep them from being used as pawns in the wars of Vampires, who have often used Weres as unthinking muscle. How Kitty will step into this role, or even get some kind of carte blanche from other Werewolves to speak for Weres as a whole, might take two or three more books. I imagine that her "stardom", such as it is, will have a great deal to do with her being accepted in this role. But what she might have to do to keep it... well, that's something else again.

I found this story interesting, and it yet again expanded the universe of Kitty Norville in new and very intriguing ways. Now that some new players have revealed themselves in her world, will Kitty end up becoming a believer, or will she somehow manage to retain her mostly-disbelieving ways? I can't wait to see what happens! Highly recommended.

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