Genre: YA fantasy romance
Publisher: Philomel; 1 edition (October 19, 2010)
The main character, 17-year-old Calla Tor, a golden-eyed platinum blond beauty, is a young werewolf Alfa female. In her world werewolves are called the Guardians because of their social function – they help the Keepers, also known as witches, to guard normal people against evil Searchers. The Keepers provide the Guardians with all the luxuries – free houses, cars, clothes and human helpers who will clean and wash and buy your food – but they demand the ultimate submission. Guardians can’t marry a person if their Keeper objects. They must live in the area their Keeper has chosen or move out if it is the Keeper’s will. A Keeper might decide they fancy a Guardian and then that Guardian ends up in their bed. If you are not obediend, you will be culled. Each pack has one Keeper and two Alphas – male and female.
At birth, Calla’s parents were told that their Keeper arranged her marriage to fellow shapeshifter, the son of an Alfa of another pack. She and Renier Laroche are duly bound to get married on Samhain, the night of Oct. 31. Together, they’re supposed to bear werewolf pups and rule a new pack with a special mission – they will guard the sacred cave of witches. With their marriage fast approaching, Calla hasn’t yet experienced her first kiss as she is expected to enter the union as a complete virgin. Her future mate, however, is a gadabout who’s dated, and possibly bedded, half her graduating class.
“Nightshade” opens with the scene that could prove to be Calla’s eventual undoing: she saves a human boy in the midst of a grizzly bear mauling instead of leaving him to die on a hiking trail. The boy was simply too hot to die that young. That human boy is named Shay Doran. He lives with his uncle, Bosque, who happens to be a kind of uber-Keeper, called the Regent. Soon enough one of the Keepers demands that Shay be protected, watched and looked after; it becomes Calla’s duty to comply. It is through Shay, that Calla learns just how much the ties that bind her and her family can chafe. But Shay is not all that he appears. Surrounded by secrets and forbidden knowledge, Shay and Calla set out to find the truth about the world around them. The truth is hidden in an old book written in Latin. As a result, their lives, and the lives of those whom Calla loves, will never be the same.
The plot is readable, even un-putdown-able; I burned through it in about two days (I had to have breaks due to my work) so it certainly can boast of possessing and addictive quality that makes it difficult for the reader to cast it aside. It’s also very well paced – there really isn’t a stopping point. Once you start, you have to finish. At least I did.
The cover looks really nice.
I must admit I hate romantic trios – it’s something akin to allergy! When will they stop haunting me in YA books? It seems the answer is never. Well, at least I have plenty to mock. That is the question: who will the divine Calla choose? Will it be the intellectual Shay with excellent abs and lovely mouth, uttering Latin words of comfort and wisdom, or the smoldering playboy Ren who, although pretty much lascivious, in fact, is not as full of himself as you might think at first? Honestly I don’t care. I never will, as long as character development is lacking to make place for those scenes full of saliva-dripping, lips-crushing and other thrilling activities connected with forbidden love. Done to death elsewhere. Yawn.
Calla, while initially strong, became less and less so across the book, especially when she fell to mush around her love interests. Her inability to control her hormones was absolutely ridiculous. The touch of a finger or a brush of a boy’s well-muscled body sends this girl into nervous convulsions, making her incapable of coherent thought or action. She shows more character retaliating against her mother’s attempts to improve her clothes than toward the cruel men using her pack mates as sex slaves. By the way, these powerful witches who might be even fallen angels don’t seem to be a well-thought-out idea. How come they can control a bunch of nasty wraiths and other ugly winged creatures but not a pair of teenagers? Tsk, tsk.
What’s more? Some climactic scenes were resolved too quickly, and in my view the major plot twist lacked suspense. The werewolf mythology I found rather confusing, and it remained totally muddled at the end. Perhaps it will improve.
Last but not least: the novel concluded with neither resolution nor an extreme cliffhanger that will require readers to pick up the sequel to see what happens next.
By the way I really wonder what our lovely Calla would do if Shay was not such a hottie but, say, an overweight, round-shouldered bespectacled individual with face full of pimples…Perhaps she would tell the bear, attacking him: “Be careful what you eat, my dear animal, this boy might cause you a serious indigestion, so much fat and all…” and took to her heels.
“Nightshade” is a book for hopeless romantics who like their heroines conflicted, their love interests smoldering and their passions triangulated and torrid, yet unfulfilled. To tell you the truth the book was too similar to “Twilight” to turn me into one of its fans – it didn’t contain anything spectacular. If you’re addicted to the YA paranormal genre, I’m sure you’ll be content to add this new series to your shelves, if not, you may not enjoy “Nightshade”. I won’t probably follow it as the next part isn’t a release I would be on edge about