Friday, May 30, 2008

Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

I wrote a chunk about this book in a rec.arts.sf.written thread soon after I finished reading it -- you can read my post here -- so let's see if I have anything else to say about it now.

Silver Bullet is the fourth in the contemporary fantasy series about Kitty Norville, werewolf and radio host, who was instrumental in making the existence of werewolves and vampires public two books ago (though not by her own choice). One of the most interesting things about this series is that Vaughn is willing to hew closer to the laws and mores of the real world than a lot of her fellow writers in that field. The supernatural folks are certainly glamorized in these books, but there's a lurking feeling that they're not beyond human law, and that the regular mechanisms of the civilized human world can deal with them if just given a chance.

This book opens with an example of that -- Kitty is visiting her friend Cormac in prison, where he's currently serving a sentence for manslaughter after one of those all-too-common fantasy-novel showdowns where the Evil Foe just has to be killed. Cormac did kill that Evil Foe...but he also got a manslaughter conviction out of it.

Many urban fantasies treat their supernatural creatures as aristocrats -- buying into the myth -- but Vaughn is one of the growing number who sees them as just another kind of organized criminal. She even has a police detective draw that parallel explicitly in this book. Kitty's main problem when the book opens is straight out of a crime novel -- she wants to go home to Denver, but that's the "turf" of the alpha werewolf whose pack she left. If she crosses her old gang boss, he'll have her killed -- being a werewolf is like being a made guy in the Mafia, and you have about as much chance of getting out.

So this is a gangwar book, in a sense -- Kitty is encouraged at the beginning of the book to join a coup against the established leaders in Denver, and events draw her in that direction as the book goes on. But she never completely loses her faith in the rule of law -- and I hope that stays true as the series goes on, despite the increasing number of woo-woo powers for the vamps -- and that police detective continues to play a major role.

I like to see an contemporary fantasy series where vampire gangs are a policing problem, not something that has to be left to "the supernatural community." And I hope that the Denver police keep getting better at dealing with vamps and weres: that they don't become a boogeyman problem -- left to the special elite Society of Protagonists -- but something that smart, properly trained and outfitted cops can handle.


Liz said...

I am really pleased to have read this review - I have been dithering about reading the series (or to read up to where the series is now) as I was worried about it being same-old-same-old. So thanks for the heads-up.

Amie Stuart said...

Liz I read the first two books and they're really good--the second better than the first even which is nice. Three and four are on my to-buy list for sure!

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