Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1) Kindle Edition
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This particular volume does not indicate how "turning" is done although there are indications it involves more than simply biting someone (without killing them) and that it can happen accidentally. At least, one character considers the possibility that he has accidentally turned someone.
Mackenzie, Mac, is investigating a brutal, and bloody, murder, one that seems more like the mauling of a wild animal than the result of a human murderer. She soon comes to realize striking parallels between that attack and the one she had survived not long before the story opened.
At the end of the day, she goes home. The moon is full. While she's home, pain rips through Mackenzie's body and, well, so far as she is concerned she blacks out until she wakes exhausted, naked, in her back yard.
And I'm sure most everyone reading this knows what happened. Well, not quite. MacKenzie is promoted to Lieutenant, put in charge of the Homicide division, and gets a new partner. She is also soon introduced to a "pride" of "pures." As you might imagine from the name the "pride" consists of feline shapeshifters. The Lycans, old enemies of theirs, are wolves. Note that, although except for a brief appearance by someone described as changing into a rat we only see wolves and felines in this story we are told that other animal types are also represented. Pride, pard, pack, and herd are mentioned.
And yes, Mackenzie is a "pure" who shifts into a jaguar. And so she has three tasks . . . four. She has to bring a killer to justice, keep the secret of pures and weres, learn to deal with her new-found nature, and somehow find the balance to keep her humanity in the process.
The story had some elements that might seem cliched but they flowed naturally from the characters and situation and did not interfere with the story.
I enjoyed it and can recommend it to others who might like urban fantasy with a law enforcement twist.
I think that this book works best as a pair with the second book in the series (Nocturnal Serenade) than it does standing alone. By the end of the second book, the reader has a better handle on character motivations and their back-stories, and more important, has answers to a couple of awkward questions about how weres and shapeshifters have escaped the world's attention in the modern age. Unlike the first book the second does have an explicit sexual encounter.
I like cop stories and I like stories involving were’s, or shifters as she calls them, put them together and you have my attention. The fact that Amanda’s shape-shifters are (mainly) cats just adds to the interest for me.
Her descriptions are so precise that by the time I was done I felt like I could find my way around Dallas, or at least some areas. Amanda not only gives you the image, she gives you the sounds, smells, and touch, something too few other authors do. You are literally immersed in this world.
The emotions of the characters are, with rare exception, as palpable as the setting. Their thoughts, feelings, and motivations are laid out side by side for you. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but not too bad.
The plot is smooth, moving quickly from point to point with very little extraneous kipple.
The story was, over all, very good. But I did have a few issues that, regretfully, reduced the score.
She hit one of my big pet peeves: inconsistency. One of the characters’ cat goes from a lion to a cheetah. It is a small error, but one that brought me up short and had me looking back through the book to make sure I hadn’t remembered it wrong.
Eye colors. Every major character has their eye color mentioned repeatedly. By the time I was 2/3 of the way through the story, it was starting to get a bit wearisome.
Mackenzie comes dangerously close to being a Mary Sue, imo. Everyone, expect the antagonist, seems to like her, even people she has just met. Only one character, a pop-up who we learn nothing about, expresses dislike. And she seems to be “special” for some “unknown” reason. Both are key traits of the Mary Sue character. I would like to see some of her flaws. She’s got to have a few, besides her uncertainty about her new life.
Finally, a minor complaint. There was no real sense of history. You get a peek into Mackenzie’s life, but you learn nothing about her past or her family. Or any of the other characters for that matter. In a way, that’s not a bad thing, you’re not encumbered with too much information, but I really wanted to know why she became a cop. Most of us have a reason for putting on the badge.
Issues aside, it is a fun ride. The slow spots in the book are few, and I had a very hard time putting the book down. I know I will be recommending the book to my friends.
I also know that there is more to come, and that part of my complaints is addressed in the next book. I look forward to seeing what Amanda has in store for us, and Mackenzie.
Good stuff, and I'll be moving forward with the rest of the series as well.
Secondly, the writing is strong, and the editing is very good.
Thirdly, the characters are interesting, and easy to care about, except, of course, for the villain. The lesser villains are shades of gray, and understandable, if not warm and fuzzy.