* Prices may differ from that shown
Carrie Vaughn's urban fantasy series featuring werewolf, Kitty Norville, was one of the first of this genre that I read and enjoyed and over the intervening few years it's remained consistently good. 'Kitty Steals the Show' is book 10 in this ongoing series and, for me, though I hate to say it, it was anything but a show-stopper.
There is an international conference on the paranatural to be held in London and Kitty has been asked to appear as the keynote speaker. Kitty, husband Ben, together with the human Cormac, head for London and soon find themselves embroiled in the middle of a supernatural power struggle. This first conference not only brings together delegates from all paranormal groups, but also scientists and protestors. The Master Vampires from various cities around the world, who have always held themselves aloof from other paranormals, have also gathered in London for a conference of their own and Kitty begins to get first hand experience of 'the long game' being played by these most dangerous of supernaturals, including one or two of Kitty's old enemies.
Although I have to admit there have been one or two less good offerings in this series, on the whole it's been a cut above the usual paranormal fare but I really struggled with this latest novel and have begun to think that possibly Carrie Vaughn has taken this series as far as it should go.
The book is published by Gollancz, a well respected publishing house, and on the back cover of their books Gollancz provide a tick list of features the book contains. For this novel the list reads: Gothic, Romantic, Sexy, Action Packed and Funny, with larger ticks going against Action Packed and Funny to emphasise that there are larger doses of action and humour. I'll take each of these features in turn because I didn't find that any of these categories was strong enough to tick these boxes.
Gothic? Well, in as much as the book features paranormal beings and the subject matter is fairly dark, I suppose it could be described as vaguely gothic but not in the true sense of the word.
Romantic? A resounding 'no' here. Though Kitty is married to Ben there is very little romantic interaction between the two of them and for most of the book the relationship comes across as more platonic than anything. I'd say Kitty and Ben behave more like brother and sister than a married couple.
Sexy? For exactly the same reasons as above I'd say that this book was anything but sexy. There is zero sex in this story as even when Kitty and Ben do the nasty, the author doesn't go into detail. I'd even go further and say that throughout this series, I've struggled to find any chemistry between Kitty and Ben. Without giving away too much of what's gone before, this is a relationship which never produced any fireworks and Ben comes across as a very beta sort of guy, almost submissive to Kitty and as dull as ditchwater to boot.
Action Packed? Of all the books in this series, this is the least action packed of any and apart from a couple of skirmishes between werewolf and vampire factions most of this book is taken up with paranormal politics and scene setting for what I'm guessing is the follow up book due out next year. It seems not only are the vampires in this series playing a 'long game' but so is the author. I don't necessarily have a problem with writers setting up a scene to be continued in subsequent books but I do object to this being to the detriment of the current one.
Funny? I suppose the publishers could just about get away with this one, but only if they mean funny peculiar because it sure as hell couldn't be regarded as funny ha ha. The humour in this book, such as it is, is on the wry side and I can honestly say I didn't laugh once during the reading of this novel.
As far as characterisation is concerned, Kitty Norville is an original and likeable heroine but whereas the previous books in this series have had such an engaging plot that areas of the story which may fall somewhat short of expectations, such as the romantic elements, weren't particularly missed, this novel is simply rather dull and boring.
The political machinations of the main vampire who is playing the long game just don't grab the attention enough to make this book exciting, especially as that vampire doesn't even make an appearance in the book at all. Roman, the vampire in question, has appeared in an earlier book in the series and I suspect that the author is simply using him and his long game to extend the series. As evil masterminds go, Roman is pretty tame and his long game, which is total world domination, is hardly a new concept.
Books in this series have always been an auto-buy for me previously but given what a struggle it was to wade through this particular episode in the Kitty series, I shall have to think long and hard about whether to bother buying the next book. Sorry, Kitty, but you'll really have to up your game if you want me to keep reading. This one was just too much of a disappointment.