Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty and the Midnight Hour was first published in 2005, but I hadn't started the series until now. I'd heard good things from people who I think have similar tastes in books, and happily, Hachette sent me the first five books to review. The sixth book, Kitty Raises Hell is right around the corner with a March 1st release date. My plan is to catch up to the whole series over the course of this month and review as I go.

The premise: Kitty Norville is a late night radio DJ and secretly two years into being a werewolf. One night she idly mentions a Bat Boy article, and this kicks off an impromptu talk show on creatures of the night.  Suddenly, a weekly show about the supernatural is born. Kitty calls it The Midnight Hour,  and it's a big success. Of course, not everyone is happy, like Arturo the head of the local vampire coven or Carl and Meg, her werewolf pack alpha and his mate, but Kitty finds herself increasingly proud of her show and will do anything to keep it.

Through the radio show, Kitty lays down the foundation of the world to the reader, and an idea of the practical "rules". Kitty is forthright with her listeners, sometimes dissuading those who may have lofty ideas of becoming a werewolf or vampire, providing advice to those who are, and educating everyone in the process.

Despite the amusing concept and Kitty's glib on air persona, there is an element of grit and darkness in this book. Kitty's change into a werewolf was not a happy story, and the werewolf lifestyle isn't for everyone. Kitty isn't a strong wolf, I think others prefer if she stayed as a cub, and so she's weak and vulnerable amongst her peers -at least when the book begins. To me it seemed like a constant battle between the human rational side, and the instinctive wolf side, and Kitty has to listen to both to survive.

Overall: Quite an enjoyable read – worth a try for all urban fantasy fans. Although there are some dark moments and grey areas which may turn off others, I breezed through this fairly fast, and I'm glad that I have the second book waiting. While this ended in a good place, there is definitely a lot more that you want to find out. Kitty and the Midnight Hour lays down the foundation. The world building is such that you understand what is going on, but you know that there is more, and you want to keep reading to find out what else is there.

A couple of people I know compared the writing to Patricia Briggs when I mentioned I was reading this. I think that there are some parallels to the Mercy Thompson series: werewolf packs and a society being introduced to the reality of supernatural creatures, but I thought the heroine was very different from Mercy. Kitty doesn't start off as a confident heroine. She's the alpha's pet, lowest wolf on the totem pole, and submissive to all the other wolves. At first I wasn't sure I liked her because of her submissiveness (and I definitely don't like Carl, who I felt was abusive), but as the book moves along, having the radio show gives Kitty purpose and she begins to question where she may not have before. The book starts off with me not really liking certain things, but as time moves along Kitty seems to make the right decisions regarding what bothered me. This is where I think the grey area is on whether others will like the book.  I thought that Kitty had a pretty good self-awareness of her own weaknesses, which reminds me of another heroine in a radio station – Ciara Griffen of Jeri Smith-Ready's WVMP series. I would call that a good comparison. Kitty also has an intelligent sense of humor, and I liked reading about her radio segments -  they brought up a lot of socio-political questions that I found interesting to think about.

This is definitely urban fantasy in that there's only a brief hint at romance and I don't think we'll see a HEA or HFN in that department, at least not for a while. As I said, there are some dark moments too. They secondary characters are interesting (Cormac, the were/vamp hunter, TJ, Kitty's best friend and fellow werewolf and others), and I want to see more of them, but I also warn you – don't get too attached to people, things don't really go the way you expect. I'm still hoping things go the way I want, and Kitty pulls through!

Carrie Vaughn's website

Calico_reactions Kitty reviews (she loves this series)

Cosy World's review (a different opinion, she didn't like it at all)

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