Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
|Publisher(s):||Penguin Group (US) Roc (UK)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook|
|Release Date:||July 7, 2009|
I am obviously late to the party having just started this series, but I can certainly understand the enthusiastic following. If this first novel is any indication of what’s to come, you can count me as another Faith Hunter fan.
Jane Yellowrock is of Native American descent—Cherokee, specifically. She makes a living by hunting rogue vampires who have lost their sanity and are on a killing/eating spree. She rides a custom-built motorcycle named Bitsa (“bitsa this, bitsa that”), has a witch for a best friend, and shares her body with another soul. Oh, and she’s also a skinwalker, probably the last of her kind.
Her body roomie is the soul of a mountain lion (Beast), whose origins are buried deep in Jane’s memories. Her past slowly resurfaces through the novel and Jane is forced to face some unpleasant flashbacks. Finding a shaman in the area lends Jane some comfort and direction. All this while trying to fulfill a contract that requires her to hunt down an ancient and powerful vampire gone rogue in New Orleans. Vampire politics are also an annoying interference as well as other individuals who have their own agendas.
But Jane is a highly sought-after huntress because of her past successes, and her employers want the killer off the streets in spite of their disdain for needing Jane to do it. Her being able to shapeshift into any animal is not public knowledge, though, and trying to discreetly glean any sort of information on her kind from centuries-old vampires is no easy task.
The novel shifts back and forth from Jane and Beast’s perspectives. It’s very well done, and having the contrast of Beast’s simple and direct views is very revealing of how humans can complicate matters. Also because of Beast’s clean-cut descriptions, you can’t help but be immersed in the scenes. Several times I’ve had to blink to re-orient myself after putting the book down. Now, that is a sign of some darn good writing.
Because Jane is such a kick-a$$ heroine, you get a lot of action scenes. Another well-done aspect of the book. The plot is full of surprises, which I love, because there is nothing worse than a predictable story line. Well, almost nothing. Poorly developed characters can kill it, too. You’ll find none of that here. Jane and Beast are complex beings. We are just scratching the surface on them in this book. The secondary characters of Molly (Jane’s witchy best friend) and Angelina (Molly’s adorable and scary-powerful 4-year-old daughter) are just itching to get their own page time. Not to mention some of the more powerful vampires—Leo and Sabina—will have their own intriguing backstories to tell.
My only quibbles are some minor character inconsistencies, like the amount of detail describing Jane’s party clothes and make-up, and letting her waist-length hair billow behind her while riding her motorcycle. For such a no-frills kind of girl, getting those knots out afterwards would surely have sent her into a chopping frenzy, as in chopping the whole thing off. Obviously, she has more patience than I give her credit for.
All in all, a great start to a fascinating series. To date, there are nine installments, and I look forward to immersing myself again in Hunter’s world.