Here’s an experiment – go to your local book store and stand in the Young Adult area. Randomly throw a rock. Chances are you will hit a book with a love triangle in it. Odds are pretty good that it has a Werewolf theme to it too. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer has both of those things in spades. However, this is the book that has single-handedly restored my languishing faith in the Werewolf genre of story writing.
Recent perusals of mine into this genre have left me cold and annoyed (save Maggie Stiefvater’s sublime Shiver and Linger). Several books I have read lately end up spending too much time telling and not showing… pack dynamics, alpha/beta aggressions, running, running… running… What’s with all the running? I know it’s true to the wolf essence but really? How many hundreds of pages does one really need to read of running in the woods riotously glorifying the hunt? I am sick to death of S. Meyers clones and I want it to stop!
That said, Cremer does it right. And I am so pleased of this. When she describes this world it is just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity. The prose flows and the dialogue sings. Many of the characters are fleshed out and dimensional while not seeming like carbon copies to what’s been written before. The love story (said triangle mentioned before) is sweet and complex and trumps other romantic novels by far.
I am also pleasantly surprised that there is no big dramatic overwrought “OMG! I’m a Werewolf!!” moment to be found in this book. Calla opens up this book a werewolf, chasing down a bear from a human hiker and shifting back and forth with ease. For once, a character who knows her abilities and doesn’t spend a portion of the book learning to be her supernatural self. Bravo! How refreshing to not have to grow into it with the character, but to be it already. We can focus on other things then, like character interactions and gorgeous world building. Also a stellar plot line about the how and why this group of Werewolves came to be.
I am in awe of this idea. I can’t wait to see how this pans out. Such a great story. Wonderful debut, Cremer. You’ve earned a 5 out of 5, and a solid fan. The first of many, I trust.
– Follow the Reader –