on December 1, 2005
I usually review vampire novels, but the werewolf genre seems to be growing - not quite up to the size of the vampire genre yet, but getting there. This book has vampires as well as werewolves, although the main protagonist is a werewolf. So I can give it a run through BunRab's Standard Vampire Classification, applying the standards to both vamps and weres:
The book's genre is definitely fantasy, but it's also a murder mystery. (Front cover blurb is from Charlaine Harris, who writes mainly in the mystery genre and only recently started in on vampire fantasy.) Both the werewolves and the vampires have the standard supernatural characteristics expected of them - extraordinary strength, susceptible to silver bullets, etc. - and not too much outside of those usual characteristics. The vampires don't turn into bats, no one gets to be completely invisible (although vampires can certainly disappear rapidly). The characters have a purpose in life besides being evil creatures of the night - they hold jobs, have civilian lives, have non-supernatural friends - they aren't just fantasy characters. Although there is a noticeable amount of sexual content in the book, the vampire characters are not there solely as metaphors for sexual activity, as is the case with some of the older breed of vampire books. The author, and the characters, have a sense of humor - the book isn't always dead serious. (All of these features - cross-over genres, what metaphors are used, whether the supernatural characters are also people, whether the book is serious or farce or in between, are all ways to compare various fantasies to see whether they fit into your favorite style. Some people prefer the dark and brooding evil creature of the night or the tortured soul; others prefer the touch of humor that Tanya Huff or Charlaine Harris brings; still others prefer the heavy sexual content of Laurel Hamilton's books. BunRab's Standard Vampire Classification is my attempt to give you points of comparison to see if this is a match for other vampire books that you have already read and enjoyed.)
Kitty is a nice character. Brave, smart - maybe a little bit too nice and philosophical and able to instantly deliver wise advice on the radio, but then, this is a fantasy - our characters don't have to be completely realistic. Certainly, a werewolf who discusses the love lives of the supernatural is less of a blowhard, and probably a lot more fun to listen to, that the talk radio hosts that really are out there.
Some of the touches I enjoyed:
*the sign-off for Kitty's show is a recording of her own wolf howl;
*"Wide World of News" tabloid's repeated Bat Boy stories;
*The cops we meet are mostly good guys and mostly competent, not played for the worst stereotypes;
*The hints of more species to come - at the end, after homo sapiens sanguinis and homo sapiens lupus, there's a mention of homo sapiens pinnipedia (those of you who have a little scientific Latin & Greek, as I do, will guess what that is instantly, as I did; the rest of you need to refresh yourself on high school biology.)
*The preview of the next book, which includes a caller to the talk show who thinks he's a were-alpaca.
The book's not perfect - there are a few small plot holes and unresolved bits, and there's some of the careless copy-editing that is rife in mass-market books these days (your for you're, etc.) but not much - it's bearable.
Family reading alert: as mentioned above, there *is* explicit sexual content. There's also some blood and gore. Not too much in the way of four-letter words. Overall, I'd call it about a PG-15, unless the idea of any sexual content at all really bothers you.
Summary: a decently-plotted and resolved murder mystery, fairly well-thought-out supernatural characters, some nice touches of humor. I will definitely be purchasing the next in the series!
on November 8, 2005
Kitty has the late ship at a small radio station. She likes the late hours because she is a werewolf. One night she accidentally makes some comments on her show and it turns into a talk fest with the music forgotten. The subject was the paranormal, specifically Bat Boy, in the tabloids. The talk hits its stride and the station wants to keep the format and even move to limited syndication. What could be wrong with that?
Well, the local werewolf and vampire populations do not like the attention. They are afraid people will realize they are real. But as submissive as Kitty is in her werewolf pack, her human side is more assertive and she tries to keep the show going. Soon people find out she speaks from experience and trouble really begins to build. Assassins, the police, vampires, werewolves, jealousy and hatred all combine to make things difficult for the late night show host. Find out how she deals with it.
A very nice first book in a series (number two is excerpted at the end). The world is interesting but I think full humans handle the news of the supernatural a little too blandly. But still it is a very enjoyable book and hard to put down. Check it out.
on April 4, 2007
I used to read Science Fiction almost exclusively, but when Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire books introduced me to the world of semi-romantic modern day urban fantasy, I was hooked. The genre is growing by leaps and bounds, so it is getting harder to decide which books to read and which ones to skip. When I read the synopsis of 'Kitty and the Midnight Hour', it sounded like something I would like. I do not want to get a full blown romance book, nor do I want the oversexed novels of L.K.Hamilton, and I am certainly not looking for anything with over the top violence. 'Kitty' seemed to fit into what I was looking for.
Having said that, I was extremely disappointed when the book arrived and it was only 288 pages of large, wide spaced text. Surely this small novel cannot be very well developed, or very interesting. But as I started reading I was easily drawn into Kitty's world, and I was impressed by the way that such a short novel was able to convey so much character depth and emotion, and how attached I could become to characters that where given so little space to develop. Kitty's story and growth occurred simultaneously without one interfering with the other, and by the end of the book I was hooked and wanted more.
I know that this is a series, and characters and situations will be further - or more fully - explored in the future books, but I still think this book could have been better with more story. Hopefully future books will get a little more involved, but for the time being I will follow Kitty to Washington and on Holliday.
Fans of Rachel Caine's 'Weather Warden' series, Jim Butchers 'Dresden Files', and the 'Southern Vampire' books will probably like the 'Kitty' books.
on June 8, 2006
Chick lit meets the paranormal in this fast-paced, entertaining novel by Carrie Vaughn.
Late-night DJ, Kitty Norville, is bored with the same old song requests, so she opens the mike to calls for advice--from the supernatural. Being a werewolf herself, she has some insight into what their lives are like. To everyone's surprise, the show becomes a huge success. Unfortunately, it also brings Kitty out of the closet. Death threats abound, and not just from humans. Throw in a sexy hunter ala Van Helsing, a homicidal werewolf and challenges from her own pack, and Kitty doesn't know which way to turn.
While this book does have some romance, that is not the aim of the story, so don't buy it with puppy love in mind. Chick Lit doesn't always end up with the guy and girl riding off into the sunset. But if you're looking for a light-hearted (though sometimes nauseating) fun read that includes werewolves, vampires, cops, intrigue and the gore that goes with it, pick this up and enjoy.
Reviewed by Vicky Burkholder
on September 13, 2012
What I would first like to get out of the way before I start any criticism is that I like this series of books. The Kitty series is based on standard urban fantasy where werewoves and vampires come out of the closet and the struggles that people face as a result. Kitty is a reasonably likable main character and the plot twists are often surprising and entertaining.
When I first considered the series I had a lot of doubt about the concept of a werewolf DJ being a good basis for a main character, but Vaughn does a good job of making it work. Kitty isn't the fastest, smartest, or strongest in any of the books. She mostly survives her encounters with powerful people and beings on her wit, guile and good luck.
My largest criticism is that toward the beginning of the first book there is some brief but explicit sexual content that was unnecessary to advance the story. This brief explicit scene isn't indicative of the rest of the series where most sex that occurs is only suggestive and not explicit. So why Vaughn chose to spoil the series for a younger audience I have no clue. I would suggest that Vaughn go back and edit a couple of pages and have another release that could be read by young teens.
A minor issue is that while it isn't difficult to tell the political preferences of most authors, most have the good judgment to make fun of behaviors without directly associating those behaviors with a named political party. However, throughout this series the bad politicians have all been specifically labeled "Republicans". They could have just as easily remained unlabeled because the behaviors could have just as easily been attributed to politicians of either party, but it seems that Vaughn has chosen to leverage her fictional writing into a platform where she creates fictional bad-guys and labels them Republicans.
My main technical issue with the story so far is that there is no significant down side to being a werewolf (or were-anything) and with a 100% assimilation rate I don't understand how the "were" condition hasn't overtaken the population of the world.
I have wanted to read good paranormal novels for a while, but was unable to find them. That is until I found Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn. Kitty is a recently turned werewolf and radio show personality who begins to receive calls from vampires, werewolves and other creepy crawlies during a late-shift radio show spot. The bizarre phone calls and conversations on the air get immediate attention and Kitty becomes an overnight success. However, a group of killer vampires want Kitty and her show to disappear. After Kitty's werewolf identity is uncovered, she begins to help the police find a serial killer who may or may not be a werewolf. Kitty's life, which to that point had centered on her wanting to live a more normal life and resist her wolf side, will never be the same. There are various twists throughout the novel.
The novel, its characters and the heroine are quite similar to the works of Kelley Armstrong, Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris. However, the book also has its own voice and entertaining situations. I like how the author, through Kitty and the radio callers, addresses various issues with vampires and shape-shifters, like religion, HIV and sexual preference. I was especially impressed with the way the vampire/Christianity issue is addressed. Many contemporary authors overlook this issue in their paranormal books or they simply don't develop it much. This novel is more centered on Kitty coming to terms with her wolf side, a good thing to get out of the way if Ms. Vaughn intends to turn this into a series. I would have liked the storyline to be more centered on vampires, but that's only because I am more partial to vampires than werewolves. As for the heroine Kitty, she annoys me at times, but I like her quick-witted ways. All in all, I enjoyed reading this novel. It reminded me of how much I like this genre so much. I recommend this one to all paranormal/fantasy enthusiasts.
on May 25, 2013
KITTY NORVILLE and I first met back in 2010 when I started my blog; at the time I found the heroine rather spineless, and I didn’t particularly care for Carrie Vaughn’s werewolves. I forged on to book 2, didn’t see much improvement, and decided to call it quits. Now, five years later, the series has concluded, and I’ve decided to give it another chance in audio. Marguerite Gavin’s narration caused me to bump my original rating up by a star, and my second impression kinda left me scratching my head as to why I was so harsh to begin with.
KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR still didn’t bowl me over with its mild level of Urban Fantasy badass-ery, although I did find myself enjoying the story and the characters more than expected given my initial assessment. The off-scene rape bits are probably what tipped me over the edge originally, and I’ve since encountered far worse over the course of my fictional wanderings *cough* Anne Bishop’s THE BLACK JEWELS trilogy *cough* that I barely batted an eye at them. Also, now that Norville is out from underneath Carl’s wing it seems unlikely that there will be a repeat.
The inclusion of a werewolf POV is borderline mandatory in a series with a fury protagonist IMO, and Vaughn’s spin was to my liking. The possibilities for future plot threads are practically endless as well given Kitty’s outstanding issues with the pack, the barely explored vampire angle, and the potential for her to become a police consultant, not to mention all of the cray-cray her callers could throw at her on any given night. In addition, it helps to know that there are only fourteen installments because it shows that the author has a plan.
Marguerite Gavin is a new-to-me narrator, and given the impact that she had on my overall opinion of this title, I’d say that she just significantly increased the odds of me staying the course. The subtle adjustments of her tone and pitch with regards to Kitty’s “radio” voice and that of her wolf’s were well executed, especially her three-way on air dialogues. I enjoyed Gavin’s European accents, although they did seem slightly out of context, but that was in part due to some holes in the secondaries’ backstories which she can’t be held accountable for.
KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR needed a few years to ferment, at least for this listener.
on July 20, 2015
The first of Vaughn's "Kitty" werewolf novels, and a good start to a solid series!
It's a different take on the paranormal, because Kitty is a radio host and does not really have truck with things being all mysterious. Obviously, this sets her against the were and vamp traditions of secrecy...
I like how the series as a whole grows Kitty as a person, and makes room for both actions-adventure and uncertainty.
The series is wrapping up soon, after around 20 books, and I have very much enjoyed it.
on November 2, 2015
Simply fun reading. Entertaining, kept me turning the pages, made me want certain outcomes - some did some did not. The author can spin a really fun tail and took me on a ride I was needing. It took me away from my reality. Sometimes, more often than not, that is all I ask... Take me away even if for a short time - so thank you. Dealing with Alzheimers is not glamorous or fun - your momentary escapes are worth their weight in gold. Bless your soul. 😊❤️
on July 16, 2009
In Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Midnight Hour, book one in the Kitty Norville series, main character Kitty Norville works as a late night radio DJ and has great taste in music. These late nights fit well into her new nature as a werewolf. One night in between songs, a caller phones in and begins a discussion about the paranormal. Since this is something that Kitty understands very well, she answers. More people begin to call in claiming to be vampires or werewolves, or humans with vampire/werewolf concerns. Pretty soon Kitty is running her own late night talk and advice show for the paranormal called The Midnight Hour. Her pack leader, the Alpha Male Carl, is upset by this exposure of their kind. Upset even more is local Vampire Family leader Arturo who feels that she will upset the balance of his power by giving out advice to vampires. Both leaders want Kitty to stop the show, but Carl is begrudgingly willing to let Kitty go ahead with it for a cut of the profits. Though she is a weak werewolf, she is a strong talk show host and for the first time since she became a werewolf, Kitty is feeling independent and happy.
But if good times were made to last, the book wouldn't be nearly as exciting as it is. First a werewolf hunter is sent to kill her, exposing her for what she is live on air. Second, there is a rash of killings that were obviously done by a werewolf. As the resident paranormal expert, Kitty is brought in by the police to scope out the crime scenes, but Kitty does not recognize the scent of this werewolf and knows he is not one of her pack-- he is a rouge in their territory mutilating young human women. Third, a church is claiming to `cure' paranormal creatures and everyone who goes there for help seems to disappear. Fourth, things within the pack itself have become a bit tense. Carl is making moves and suggesting she try to take the place of the Alpha Female Meg, her own maker Zan is becoming aggressive, and someone is working against her to get her killed by the hot werewolf hunter. How can a women so consumed by problems possibly give advice to others?
Kitty is certainly not infallible. She is definitely not a tough girl capable of beating up men twice her size complete with roundhouse kicks like so many paranormal heroines. Sure, she is stronger than even a powerful human male, but she doesn't go around flaunting it. Kitty just wants to be normal. Even as a wolf she is submissive and uncertain, deferring to Carl as the Alpha Male as any wolf would do by instinct. Vaughn seems to have a good understanding of the hierarchical dynamics of wolf packs, which makes the book more realistic in terms of how werewolves as creatures would behave. I think too many authors are afraid to make submissive female characters for fear of playing into the stereotypes of women, and therefore realism suffers. Vaughn found a way to make Kitty real but also strong in her own way.
There are many different plots and conflicts going on at once. Vaughn balances all of the issues very well, putting together a story that is fluid and easy to follow without becoming a tangled mess. Kitty is dealing with a lot of complicated stuff, but you don't feel overwhelmed by everything while reading. It all comes together in the end in a very intense scene, but the resolution is left open in certain ways to allow for the rest of the series to proceed. I have to admit that I like books that come in a series much better than stand alone novels.
Usually, when given the choice of vampire or werewolf, I always choose vampire. Most werewolf characters are too animalistic and it is hard to relate to them. Yet Vaughn makes Kitty someone easy to understand and find commonalities with. So now I can say that there is at least one werewolf book that honestly enjoy. I enjoyed it most of all because of the flowing way Vaughn made her wolves human but wolf at the same time, never too much of either and certainly not just the best of both worlds. I am definitely excited to read the rest of the series.