Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Publication date: October 19th 2010 (Philomel)
ISBN 10/13: 039925482X / 9780399254826
Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Romance, Wolves, Prophecy
Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.
My review: Though I wasn't 100% happy with this debut novel, it definitely kept my attention--I finished it in just under two days. I like the mythology Cremer invents for the shape-shifting Guardians. I was also able to guess some major plot twists, so that took away a little bit of my enjoyment (hence the deducted star), but Calla Tor and her cavalcade of secondary characters sufficiently distracted me during the afternoon I got my flu shot. I couldn't seem to turn the pages fast enough once I finished the first half!
Calla, the alpha of the Nightshade pack, shifts not just from girl to wolf but from naughty, mini-skirted siren to prudish, hand-slapping goody-two-shoes (wow, that's a lot of hyphenates--hold on for the parentheticals) in the blink of an eye. I found this disconcerting; that and the almost entirely predictable (well, if you've read as many mysteries as I have) puzzle of newcomer Shay Doran. Ren Laroche, the alpha of the Bane pack, to whom Calla is promised, has good reason to despise him. Shay's poaching on his territory!
I did find the setting and some of the characters a little off--do modern moms in Vail actually serve hot tea to important guests in the evenings? Was she supposed to be English-ish? Er...
What would otherwise have been a sluggish, moony-eyed romance moves at a pretty good pace as Calla, Shay and Ren play with pack politics. I enjoyed the gamboling of the young wolf pack, and the unexpected alliances and loyalties that Cremer builds into the character arcs. I also thought the plot was reasonably perilous. I've read similar YA novels where the danger is so thin, the climax feels about as tense as breaking a fingernail--annoying, but easily fixed. Nightshade manages to layer the stakes so that Calla's mistakes are not just hers--it affects the Nightshades and the Banes, and may have even greater, world-breaking repercussions.
Lastly, though I deplore love triangles in which it is completely obvious who the main character is going to end up with, Cremer does a good job of balancing Ren's bad-boy behaviors with some good intentions; this has the strange effect of making you want a happy ending for him, all the while hoping Calla ends up with Shay anyway. At least, I do!
If your brain needs an escape from whatever is stressing you out, grab this book on Tuesday!
Who should read this book: Nightshade's not for everyone--I'd be hard-pressed to recommend this to the more innocent-looking YA readers. It's very sexy. But if mom let you read House of Night and The Immortals, guess what! You'll like this one, too. Grab a warm drink and tuck yourself up in bed with this wolf-shaped guilty pleasure.
Nightshade is Andrea Cremer's 1st novel. (Nightshade is first in a trilogy.)
Find the author at http://www.andreacremer.com/ (BTW, *awesome* website design :D), on Twitter @andreacremer
Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/callaTor
Find this book on goodreads.com, or buy it now!
What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)