This kept popping up in my recommended column. After suffering through the god-awful Sookie Stackhouse series (first few books were good, the rest awful but i guess I'm a masochist and a sucker for something on sale), I figured this was another romance book disguised as fantasy. It was anything but. While it certainly has it's moments of sexual tension, it was super solid story, well researched, and interesting. The narrator is wonderful.
I've burned through the first three already and well into the fourth. Don't resist Jane and Beast. You'll love her. And maybe Bruiser too. ;)
Reviewing Romance & Urban Fantasy
“I figured even the most jaded and cynical inhabitant might report a bloody girl in a party dress carrying a severed head by its hair.” ~ Jane
I’ve read few shifter/were books where the person has an inner monologue with their beast and I love it when it happens. Faith Hunter does a fantastic job at showing the two different being that share the same skin. Skinwalker doesn’t have one heroine but two, Jane the woman and her big cat.
Jane is a shifter which means she can shift into any animal but her true beast is a large cat and when Jane picks a different animal, to add her in hunt for a rogue vampire, her big cat is not happy. Jane’s not sure how she and her beast became one because she doesn’t remember her childhood before age 12 where she was found wandering out of the woods. There are jokes through the book that she was raised by wolves.
Skinwalker takes place in New Orleans where Jane has taken a job to hunt down and terminate a rouge vampire. The only vamps that Jane has really interacted with are the ones she kills as part of her job. So when she is hired by and has to work with the local vampire council she has to change some of her thinking about vamps. Like not calling them vamps, it’s a racial slur. She also starts seeing that they are not all monsters. Some of them can even be kind of sexy….
Jane also find her self working a with a local “Joe”, a human by the name of Rick and like the vampires he is more than meets the eye.
In true UF fashion there’s no hot sweaty monkey sex but there is a potential for a love triangle set up. Jane is attracted to both the human and the vampire. Her cat is also interest in both men for different reasons. I’ll keep reading to see which guy wins the attention of both woman and cat.
If you’re looking for a well written story about an Über kick ass heroine that can land on her feet as her out look on the “enemy” is changing you will love Skinwalker.
Narration Note: Khristine Hvam does an amazing good with the narration of Skinwalker. Only after a couple of chapters I could not picture anyone else bring Jane to life. She also does a great job with the male voices.
This was a tough book for me -- I had to restart it a few times and I ended up playing much of it at 1.25x or 1.5x speed. That said, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit in places, and I I not only finished the book but went on to listen to the next two in the series.
So. I'm not a fan and I have several criticisms but I do think the series has merit.
Briefly, the story is something of a female power fantasy, in a world with various strong non-human intelligent species. The main character, Jane Yellowrock, is supernaturally gifted, several steps above human norm in terms of strength, speed etc. due to her "skinwalker" origins but she is not apex by any means. She puts her talents to use as a specialized vampire hunter in a society where vampires enjoy ambiguous legal status and pose various levels of threat. She's described as athletic, tall, handsome or striking, but not pretty. She rides a Harley, she totes a shotgun, carries knives and stakes in every place imaginable, eats anything she wants (and she mostly wants bloody meat), enjoys a sassy attitude to those around her regardless of power or status and loves flirting with the boys.
The series slowly reveals the supernatural origins of the character in ways that drive plot, so I'll say little to avoid spoiling the surprises. Very briefly though, Jane is a skin walker (which you can get from the book's title), which is a type of native american shape shifter. She has a favored shape and (minor spoiler) an animal spirit cohabiting her body, and she plays these to her advantage as she works to unravel various mysteries and hunt her quarry. The dialog and perspective shift back and forth throughout the book between Jane and her animal spirit, mostly effectively. The pacing is often deliberate (or perhaps even slow), the action is limited, and the focus often shifts between the brutal supernatural and the just plain girly (e.g. clothing shopping and dancing). The mysteries themselves are fairly unpredictable, partly because the author withholds key details until late in each story, but I found myself enjoying that aspect. (Checkov's gun may be the usual mode, but I think reality tends more to the unpredictable.) The sexual content is limited but Jane does spend her time admiring the men.
Perhaps my biggest disappointment was the main character. I could never quite buy Jane Yellowrock, bounty hunter extraordinary. Not because of gender, physical or supernatural abilities (which are powerful in somewhat subtle ways), but because the successes she enjoys seem to be about two parts luck, one part association with others equally (or more) competent than herself, and only one part her own skill. And despite that she is almost insufferably cocky. I found myself gritting my teeth at times wondering why she wasn't getting shot at, cut or fanged more often. By her friends even. True enough, by book three you see some examples of serious skill to back up the attitude. I just couldn't figure how Jane Yellowrock ever lived through the first two books.
That said I found myself enjoying the book and even the main character, at least whenever she wasn't striking a pose. The secondary characters and background details are interesting and occasionally fascinating. The world is alive with differences both subtly and unsubtly different than other books in the same genre. The origin aspects are also interesting. (Except the whole shapeshifting DNA/RNA thing. Tip to authors: please don't invoke biologically illogical and unnecessary pseudo-science. You already had me at "magic".)
Anyway, despite my criticisms above, I have a fair amount of grudging respect for the book and the author, Faith Hunter. A lot of time and attention went into these books and I think you'll find a world worth getting to know and mostly enjoyable.
As for the reading, Khristine Hvam does a professional job narrating the book. Unfortunately, though, her spot-on reading renders the main character just as cocky and callow as the author wrote her, which led to some tooth enamel loss on my part, per my earlier comments. Apart from that though, I found her reading enjoyable.
Bottom line: if you are into darker urban fantasy, there is a fair amount new and interesting here, and the audio book has enjoyable parts. So, please consider a read.
This has a similar feeling to the Ilona Andrews books (Kate Daniels series); i love that jane is so fallable in the same sort of watching a train wreck way that happens in real life, and Kate Daniels character by Ilona Andrews feels much the same way.
Yes! I've listened to all that are currently out in about 3 weeks; that's a LOT of listening
For some reason, I have always hated the covers of these series; I avoided them and wrote them off even though I am a huge fan of this genre. I am so glad it went on sale, which gave me an excuse to buy it.
I would recommend this book because finally a story about vamps I love
It made me want to learn more about my Indian roots
Great series. Always interesting to see what happens to her or her crew. Also interesting reading about the authors take on vampires
Defender of fiction!
Its not often that I start a series that really catches my attention and empathy right from the start. The characters are realistic; not too stupid and not too smart. The pace of the book is just right. The balance of the book is the icing on the cake. There is nothing more irritating than a main character that is naive and goes up against bad guys that get away with murder for most of the book. This does not happen here. There is no doubt I will be gathering the rest of the series to see where these characters go.
Perhaps. To a friend who needed a break from reality and able to suspend disbelief.
Not particularly deep, but entertaining. A few too many potential suitors in the mix. Just how many people in New Orleans are chasing after this girl?
Decent attempt at southern.
This book was a great change form all the other books in this genre that I have read lately. It has been coming up on my recommended list for months and I just kept writing it off I am so happy that i gave it a chance and could kick myself for not doing so sooner. I have been sucked into Jane/Beasts world and cannot wait to see where she goes from here. I loved the fact that Jane is a strong caring female who fights for what she thinks is right. Shes a take no crap kind of female and by the end of the book you can see that Jane and Beast are evolving. Also I love Khristine Hvam
Warning you may find yourself laughing at times out loud while listening to this book. I know I did
The author is talented and the book was well written. I was enjoying the premise (a vampire killing tough girl) and wanted to find out how it ended. My problem was I just got tired of all the sexist remarks. To me, Jane didn't come off as a strong confident woman. She seemed more like she had a chip on her shoulder and was overcompensating for her own insecurities. She frequently made remarks like "only a man would...." or that she would have to figure out if a guy was "worthy of her". It ended up seeming trite and I lost interest.