Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Publisher: ROC
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

First in a brand new series from the author of the rogue mage novels

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps…

Trouble just roared into Nawlins on a bastard Harley. Jane Yellowrock is a licensed rogue vamp hunter. Since the vampires came out of the closet, so to speak, they are still in limbo about their official status with governments. Thus they tend to take care of their problems on their own and there Jane comes in. She’s the best at killing vamps gone rogue, partly because she’s not wholly human herself. She’s been tasked to kill a rogue that is killing other vamps and that task is one that may just kill Jane.

Skinwalker is the first in a new series by Faith Hunter and it’s a decent book. I personally think the series gets better as it goes and the characters much more complex and nuanced. In this first book, Jane heads into New Orleans to work for the Master of the City and gets entangled in the politics of the vampires. It’s an interesting plot for sure that involves part mystery, figuring out who the rogue vampire is and how to find/kill him, part romance with two potential love interests, and lets the reader get to know the narrator, Jane. I liked the plot quite a bit and found the actual sleuthing aspect interesting. It takes some real work and doesn’t happen overnight though it happens within a short amount of time. The near constant action helps keep the pages turning even when the investigation aspect slows some. I wouldn’t call this a mystery but it’s classic urban fantasy that involves some mystery components. The world building is decent, since it’s based on modern day with magic, it’s very familiar and one UF fans will likely enjoy.

I had a love/hate relationship with Jane. She’s a very classic female lead – badass motorcycle mama that can kill almost anything, mouth off to all authority, and since she’s a skinwalker that lives with the soul of a puma within her, she can’t really die and heals almost any injury when she shifts to her cat. I tire of this cliché, but the character is given enough nuances that I could get through the book. She’s torn about her Cherokee heritage and has some deep-seated problems that slowly come to light over the course of the series. In this first book she’s a little cold and snarky but I found her an entertaining narrator. Her two potential love interests are also good characters and there are enough secondary characters that have weight to give a solid cast. The end resolution is also well done and not as easy as I expected.

The writing is pretty good; though the author takes pains to ensure the readers go where she wants them to go. By this I mean that Jane doesn’t always say, think, or feel things that are true to her character. Instead she’ll change or shift, subtly and always with extensive rationalizing, to suit the narrative. If the author doesn’t want Jane to be angry or afraid of someone, then there are several reasons why she won’t be, even if the character’s natural responses would be opposite. I found this to be somewhat annoying but it happened so infrequently I could get over it. Overall this is a decent to good first outing of the series. I do recommend it to urban fantasy fans. It’s not necessarily that new but the lead is entertaining and engaging most of the time.

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