Friday, October 22, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 261 (10/22) -- Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn

The consumer note should come first, I suppose: series heroine Kitty Norville, werewolf and late-night talk radio host, does not actually raise Hell in this book. Nor does she do much figurative Hell-raising, either. There is an entity that comes from a place one might call Hell (while squinting), but Kitty doesn't go there, and she's more interested in laying than raising, to be honest. [1]

Kitty Raises Hell, on the other hand, does follow right on the heels of the previous novel in the series, Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand(which I reviewed here, sort of, last year), and deals with the fallout from Kitty's foiling of the plots of the nasty Band of Tiamat cult in Las Vegas in that book. [2] As usual, the Band of Tiamat didn't like being foiled -- and they were planning to kill Kitty in the first place, so they're not playing around. But Kitty has allies of her own -- she's the alpha werewolf of Denver, to begin with, and he new vampire master of her city, Rick, is inclined to aid her as much as possible, to maintain his own power and because he likes her (as much as a vampire can like anyone). Plus, the stage magician Odysseus Grant -- who clearly has something going on other than sleight-of-hand -- is still in Las Vegas, keeping an eye on the Tiamat weretigers for her.

But then the popular cable TV show Paradox PI -- something in the Mythbusters vein, only investigating the supernatural -- rolls into town -- and Kitty finagles a meeting with them, partially to see if she can get them on her show, and partially just to meet other people trying to make sense of the hidden supernatural world. And then the Tiamat revenge appears, in the form of waves of heat and fire -- which seem to be driven by a malevolent intelligence, and are aiming to kill Kitty and anyone near her, and things just go all to hell. (Again, not literally. Sometimes one does have to specify that, particularly with fantasy novels.)

The fantasy elements are still proliferating at this point in the series -- I'm two novels behind, so it's probably gotten even more complicated since then -- with not just vampires and werewolves, but ghosts and working ritual magic (including some offstage summoning of extradimensional entities and whatever the heck it is that Odysseus does). Vaughn is keeping each new element quiet and sub rosa -- it's hard for Kitty, or anyone else, to find out anything about magic -- but it is tending to make the world that much more complicated and the supernatural elements that much harder to hide. (This is a world where there apparently was quite a lot of supernatural stuff going on in the shadows until Kitty went public -- and one of the main problems with that kind of contemporary fantasy is that the cover-up becomes less and less plausible the more elements show up and the more powerful the antagonists are.)

The police are less important in this book -- the usual tough female police detective wanders in and out of the plot, but she doesn't do a whole lot -- and there's less emphasis on the rule of law here, possibly because the menace isn't human at all, and can't be apprehended or locked up by conventional law enforcement. (At least, not yet. And they never will be able to, if the people who know about this stuff keep it all secret and handle problems themselves, which kept nagging at the back of my head.) That's one of the best aspects of this series, and one of the things that distinguishes it most strongly from other urban fantasy, so I hope it comes back in later books.

Kitty Raises Hell is a completely cromulent middle book in a strong series; this isn't the place to start, but it's a good book to know is coming up. (Or, more likely -- since it was published a year and a half ago -- to remember it fondly.)

[1] And get your mind right out of the gutter, because you know what I mean.

[2] She could hardly help foiling their plans, since their plans were to use her as a human sacrifice, and what self-respecting werewolf would fall for that?

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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