Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Review of Kitty's Greatest Hits: A Collection by Carrie Vaughn

It is in this first short story "Il Est Ne" that that I am introduced to Kitty Norville, werewolf radio personality. A werewolf in human form comes into her life at a diner on Christmas called the Waffle House. During this story I learned that she has control over her changing and teaches this newcomer how to do the same. In the meantime they stop a serial killer. Enjoyed it.

The second story "A Princess of Spain" is an alternative history that has roots in reality. Arthur, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne was actually married to Catherine of Aragon before she was married to Henry VIII who eventually followed Henry VII to the throne of England. The twist is that this short story is a twist on how Arthur died. Or are our history books hiding the truth? Got a giggle out this one.

The third short in this book is "Conquistador De La Noche". This is the tale of a Spanish soldier who rode with Coronado in the New World. He is visited by an old friend who lures him to a remote village where he notices that things aren't right. While there he is attacked by his friend and others to become a blood thirsty demon like them. His faith in God however, helps him to control his urges to kill humans in order to drink their blood. Trapped he does what he was told could not be done.

"The Book of Daniel" is a retelling of the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den in the Old Testament with a twist. Daniel an advisor to King Darius make enemies among Darius' other advisors. A character called Suza who is a dancer joins Daniel on a walk that results in a journey to a forest where others are. They are changing from human form to various animals. Suza, Daniel's companion on the walk, turns into a leopard. Daniel, a lion. Daniel goes into the Lion's Den by order of King Darius....well, you figure out the rest.

"The Temptation of Robin Green" introduces us to a young army officer who works in secret Army base in California in a special lab where the objects of study include a werewolf, a vampire named Rick, a talking dog, a unicorn, a mermaid and a new addition, a silkie. We learn that Robin is a virgin and the power of the silkie is that of temptation. Robin is drawn to the silkie when she learns truely that he is male in the most obvious of ways. Against the advise of Rick the vampire, Robin plans to escape the lab with the silkie, which she accomplishes. Read the story for how this all ends.

"Looking After Family" Young Cormac Bennett's father is killed and Cormac kills his father's attacker. He is taken in to live with his Aunt and Uncle on their farm. One night Cormac goes into the darkness with rifle in hand, but his cousin attaches himself and wants to go out with him. It is in this story that I am introduced to Cormac, werewolf hunter.

Next up is another Cormac Bennett story, "God's Creatures". Cormac is a older and we once again find him hunting a werewolf, this time one which is killing cattle. The rancher who lost the cattle calls him in to track and kill the predator. Cormac tracks the wolf to a Catholic girl's school but eventually loses the trail. He attends church to try and get a "feel" for who might be the one who is hiding the secret. No one stands out but is confronted by a nun after services. Cormac sets bait that night but nothing is tempted. Returning to his motel he is attacked by a very large wolf. This was a interesting story and a side to Cormac in the aftermath of the hunt that seemed sympathetic.

In "Wild Ride" T.J. is introduced. Gay, he is tested and is found to be HIV positive. T.J. is a motorcycle mechanic and is at a race in which a rider by the name of Alex takes a fall and by all appearances should have been seriously injured or killed outright. Alex has a secret and T.J. senses it. T.J asked Alex to help him. Alex invites him to a bar called The Dustbowl. T.J. is eventually invited to a back hallway which leads to a garage where there is a steel cage. A woman takes off her clothes and gets in the cage when she begins to turn. The secret is that these peopole are werewolves and it becomes obvious to T.J. that invincibility has a price. Some time after turning T.J. is tested again only this time there is no sign of the HIV, but now he lives with another disease.

"Winnowing the Herd" finds Kitty at an office party for the radio station whe works at as a night time personality. Basically, Kitty is in dialog as much with the other staff as well as inner dialoge with herself. I found it amusing that playing performance poetry on her show late at night would create tension with programming.

In "Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned" Kitty attends a live concert and in the intervening mosh a young man is killed. Turns out one of the band members "sold his sold" not to be famous but to play his instrument well. When the "devil" is found out and in attendence drawing "life" from the mayhem and violence Kitty is pressed to the point of turning but the bartender takes the action to take control of the situation. A nail gun comes in handy for things other than its intended use.

"Kitty's Zombie New Year" brings Kitty into contact with a zombie. Not the usual horror movie type of zombie but one possessed by object through certain substances. I do wonder if they really could be available through eBay?

"Life Is The Teacher" is an erotic thriller involving a vampire that needs to feed but is learning to do so without destroying the human that gives up the blood. She takes just enough by giving her victim intense pleasure, and who just as quickly loses any memory of the encounter even taking place.

A fan of Kitty's radio show a vampire in "You're on the Air" calls into the show to tell his story. Not a story of involvement with historical figures from long ago, but of the lousy luck in life that he has had. After he tells the story 2 young travelers come into the store. Shortly after a man comes in with the intent of robbing him. Cooperating he empties the register only to have the robber complain about how little. If only the robber would have left right away no one would have gotten hurt. The young girls head to the register and the robber turns to face then with gun pointed. Jake, the cashier acts.

"Long Time Waiting" is a longer story. We come into it in the 1900s when a hunter comes upon a gruesome murder. She knows who committed the act, but the authorities catch her. We next find her facing the hangman's gallows. Moving forward in time Cormac is in the same Colorado prison, for doing what needed to be done in his profession of hunting werewolves, that the hanging in 1900 took place. Then it starts. Throats are being slashed in locked cells with cellmates in a mad desire to escape through the bars. Cormac is having dreams of a young women in old dress. She knows what is killing and how to stop it. She just needs a body and she has chosen Cormac's.

I wasn't sure how I would like this book when I first started it as I haven't been in the custom of reading modern werewolf and vampire books, but am a science fiction fan who will enjoy a good fantasy novel. I have had no experience with the Kitty Norville universe prior to this book of collected short stories. What I have found were some entertaining stories that were in part serious and humorous with main characters for the most part were able to maintain some control over what was inside them. The fact that Kitty tries to live a normal life and has worked to maintain control of the wolf inside her. Cormac does what he needs to do and in "God's Creatures" I sensed that he had some signs of compassion for the possessor of the werewolf inside. I am sure readers of the genre would enjoy these stories and would suggest them. I will likely go looking for at least a couple of the full length Kitty novels to see how Carrie Vaughn works with more space to develop character and plot.

For discloser purposes I received this book free by way of Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

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