Why I Read It: I’ve been reading this series since its debut in 2005. While later installments have had their ups and downs, Vaughn has earned my loyalty as a reader, and I couldn’t help but squee when this latest installment arrived in my mailbox. Of course I’m going to read it right away.
The premise: ganked from BN.com: Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world — and Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are right in the middle of it.
Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game — a power struggle among vampires that has been going on for centuries — than she ever has before. In her search for answers, Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles. The conference has also attracted some old enemies, who’ve set their sights on her and her friends.
All the world’s a stage, and Kitty’s just stepped into the spotlight.
Spoilers, yay or nay?: Nay. No need to spoil the ending, but this review will make no sense at all if you’re not caught up on most of the series, so if you’re caught up, feel free to keep reading. Everyone else, skip to “My Rating,” or better still, if you’re dying to try this series, go pick up Kitty and the Midnight Hour and read away!
Discussion: I bounced off of Kitty’s Big Trouble, which was book nine. And prior to that, my reaction to this series has gone down and up and down ever since Kitty and the Silver Bullet. There was a part of me that didn’t have high hopes for this latest installment. I’ve been feeling, for a while, that I want Vaughn to wrap up this series and move on to something else. Sure, she’s been writing other stuff, but reading her non-Kitty short story collection Straying from the Path really cemented my desire to see her get away from the Kitty series and write something NEW. I’d kill for a space opera from her, for example.
But she’s a loyalty read, this series especially. So when Kitty Steals the Show I settled in to see if the review I already had in my head would be accurate.
The prologue had me worried that maybe I needed to give the series up. It’s not that it’s bad, but despite complaining in the past when Vaughn didn’t get in the wolf’s head enough, I found that I really didn’t care for those scenes, because the whole hunting and eating of wild animals just does nothing for me. I kept trying to adjust my perspective, remind myself that Kitty’s Wolf is still separate from Kitty, but still… it’s Kitty. And reading that was just lost its charm or allure or whatever it was. I’ve been reading about werewolves, and not just Vaughn’s, since 2005. I’m definitely jaded.
But after that prologue, the novel picked up considerably. I enjoyed Kitty’s constant thorn about what she would talk about for her Keynote Speech, and I loved seeing cameos of characters from books past. Emilia? Woot! I would have forgotten all about her if not for that wonderful short story I read in Kitty’s Greatest Hits last year. But I definitely had no trouble remembering Luis, the were-jaguar. That was humorous, to say the least. And of course, other characters from that second book, Kitty Goes to Washington, made an appearance, making the “big bad” of the book rather unsurprising, but yet I enjoyed seeing how that big bad fit into the bigger picture. We see the return of Tyler, who made his first appearance in Kitty Goes to War, and whose role in this book worked wonderfully well.
We also got to meet some new characters: a vampire who goes by Ned because he doesn’t like going by Edward (which made me cackle in delight) and who knows who REALLY wrote Shakespeare’s plays. I liked, despite it squicking me out a bit and feeling rather Anne Rice-ish, seeing just what vampire culture is over in Europe, and how the old ways are still dominating the supernatural world. As a result, I liked seeing how Kitty’s shaking it all up. Vaughn also adds to her world some fairies, which didn’t play a SUPER large role, but a big enough one. There’s a wonderful description of the main fairy on page 157:
Her golden hair flowed in thick, lush waves down her back. She wore a smile like she knew secrets.
I also liked Kitty’s sudden obsession with fairy rock bands. The shout-out to Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks was quite nicely done in that regard.
Kitty also didn’t annoy me in this book like she has in the past. Maybe because of the way she gets poked at, but in a loving way, and how she doesn’t get overly upset by it. Ben comments on page 225:
“Don’t underestimate her ability to talk,” Ben said, his expression wry. He was enjoying this, the bastard. “It’s her superpower.”
Cormac also had an enjoyable side story. I loved seeing him connect with people outside of just Ben and Kitty, from Amelia’s descendants to Caleb the UK Alpha. Fun stuff here, really fleshed out the world and character in a nice, believable way.
I’ll admit though I was worried when I read that Kitty would yet again be going to a big city instead of sticking with the country or staying in Colorado. That’s only because the weaker books of the series have tended to take place in big cities that are overused as settings. I was worried that I wouldn’t really get a sense of London as a setting, much like I felt about Las Vegas in Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand. However, and maybe this is only because I was watching the London Olympics at the time, I felt the sense of place far better than I have before with Vaughn’s book (outside, of the aforementioned country/Colorado settings). I really loved this observation (page 249):
I’ve been in old places — old by American standards, at least — and had been in beautiful places that made me sigh with pleasure. But I had never felt the weight of history settle over a place the way I felt it here, solid and daunting.
Of course, I’m an American who’s never been to London, so what do I know? Still, this passage resonated with me, and I never felt like I was reading a story in a generic city.
The story itself really focused on the Long Game of Roman’s and what Kitty’s involvement in it is. It worked well in that regard, keeping my interest and watching as she interacts with werewolves and vampires and tries really hard to keep things from escalating into unnecessary violence. I also liked how Kitty has to face unintended consequences of her words and actions by the end of the book, which has me curious to see how things progress in book… eleven? Next up is Kitty Rocks the House, and if I had to guess, this may be a more stand-alone tale focusing on Kitty’s desire to find fairy rock bands. Which, depending on how it’s handled, may or may not be an annoying diversion from the bigger story. Still, this was a solidly good installment, and it was a fast, enjoyable read.
My Rating: 7 – Good Read
Reading a book where Kitty Norville goes to London while I’m watching the London Olympics was quite fun and appropriate. While I was prepared to continue to feel a little tired of this series, this ended up being an enjoyable installment, one that focuses on the over-arcing story of the series, focusing on the Long Game and moving the puzzle pieces around bit by bit. All the characters we know and love get a chance to shine, and there are some welcome (and unwelcome) cameos of characters from previous books. Definitely easy to recommend if you’ve been reading and enjoying the series so far, and I’m happily looking forward to book eleven (!!!!), which I imagine will come out next year.
Cover Commentary: Love the coloring of this one. Big Ben in the background definitely makes me squee. I will say Kitty’s pose looks rather awkward, and seeing the cover in person is a tick odd: there’s a strange, circular gleam to her eye, which is weird because we are viewing Kitty in profile, after all. But that’s a minor quibble. It’s quite a fun cover.