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Back from the war
on 1 July 2010
One thing that's always bugged me about urban fantasy is the authors rarely think out how the military would use vampires and werewolves.
Well, Carrie Vaughn is not one of those authors: "Kitty Goes To War" tackles just that subject, throwing the radio werewolf up against some lycanthropic soldiers that are spinning out of control. It's also Vaughn's eighth werewolf book, but she keeps things fresh with brisk, clever writing and suspenseful subplots.
Kitty is summoned by the Army to help them deal with an unusual problem: a secret squad of werewolf Green Berets has gone wild because their alpha/commander has been killed. Now Kitty not only has to help recapture them (including the murderous new alpha), but help them learn to deal with the real world as werewolves. Easier said than done.
Also, Kitty is being sued by Speedy Mart's president because of a caller accusing him of magic weather terrorism -- and she soon realizes that the accusations may be true. But she has bigger problems to deal with when one of the werewolf soldiers goes AWOL to free his crazed alpha -- even as Denver is hammered by an ancient magic that might wreck the whole city.
"Kitty Goes To War" isn't a very accurate title, since Kitty isn't actually involved in a war at present -- she's just dealing with some of the nasty aftermath of war. But it's still a rollicking good read -- lots of blood, fur, madness and armed mayhem, as well as a magical conspiracy involving a chain of 7-11-esque convenience stores. What's not to love?
Vaughn does a good job juggling the various subplots and filling them with the right amount of action, romance and fantasy. But she also handles the supernatural world with tongue planted in cheek -- Kitty describes Colorado Springs as a "Love craftian behe moth of ur ban sprawl" and remarks that "every vam pire I'd ev er met loved blithe ly throw ing out these por ten tous procla mations of supe ri ority and doom."
Kitty is also dealing with some personal problems here, such as flashbacks to the traumas of the last book and her determination to thwart an obsessive scientist who wants werewolf test subjects (although said scientist sort of fades out late in the book). Additionally, Cormac is back -- and he's, er, not quite the man he used to be.
"Kitty Goes To War" isn't really about Kitty going to war, but it's a solid and enjoyable urban fantasy that tackles a subject few authors are smart enough to think of -- werewolf soldiers.