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Intriguing mythology and world building but not quite ... human enough
on 20 October 2009
As a nightshift detective in Nocturne City, Luna Wilder keeps her status as an Insoli (packless) werewolf a secret from all but her boss, Lieutenant McAllister. Humans are suspicious of shapeshifters and magic users, their natural prejudice intensified by the Hex Riots in 1969, which destroyed part of the City and left it a no-go zone. Helped by her witch cousin, Sunny, Luna tries to control her phasing, using tattoos and other magical techniques to survive without a pack's support.
When Luna's transferred from investigating a prostitute's ritualistic murder to locate the missing son of the City's DA, Alastair Duncan, she finds a connection between the cases in the form of prime suspect, Dimitry Sandovski - the leader of a werewolf pack. Even as she fights her attraction to Dimitri, Luna finds that she needs his help in her investigation, one that brings her into contact with black magic, violent death and a terrifying attempt to harness the power of demons.
Kittredge has put a lot of thought into Nocturne City and there's much to admire in her werewolf and witchcraft mythology. The notion of a packless werewolf forces Luna to learn what she can about her condition without the support of a pack who can help her develop and control her ability and teach her more about it. The City itself is shaped by its history, giving it a feeling of reality. A map has also been included to help readers navigate around its key locations.
Although Kittredge sees Luna as a tough woman with a take-no-prisoners approach but a damaged past that gives her vulnerability, she comes across as a snotty cow. Rude and abrasive, she labels any woman who stands up to her a "bitch", pushes away people who care for her and for an experienced detective, is naive and impetuous. Dimitri is similarly unsympathetic - arrogant and single-minded and brutal, it's difficult to see why Luna is attracted to him for reasons other than his role as a leader.
A scene depicting the use of black magic to transform bodies is chilling and the love scene is spicy. However the editing is poor with random capitalisation and typos in places (in one scene a character takes out a gun twice) while the pacing sometimes lags. There's enough backstory and mythology to keep me interested in the series, but the heroine needs to be a little less stereotypical.