When this exciting first installment in the Jane Yellowrock series begins, renowned vampire killer Jane arrives in New Orleans to hopefully begin her newest job: hunting and killing a rogue vampire preying upon the city. Jane’s first meeting with her prospective employers, the vampire council of New Orleans, does not go particularly well when the lady representing them vamps out upon seeing and smelling Jane. Unused to dealing with “civilized” vampires, Jane reacts as she normally would in such a situation, ready to do battle. After both Jane and Katie, the vampire, are calmed by Katie’s human assistant, Tom, they discuss the position in greater detail, and Jane is offered the job. One of the perks of the post is a house, situated behind Katie’s place of business, Katie’s Ladies, a high-class whorehouse. Another potential bonus is a fellow motorcyclist that Jane spots and finds intriguing. After determining that her very specific living arrangement requirements are met, Jane heads off to her secluded backyard in the dark with some raw meat, further piquing the reader’s interest.
Jane is a skinwalker, a secret she works diligently to protect. Able to take on the shape of any animal she wishes, she prefers to choose creatures of a similar size. Becoming a being either bigger or smaller than she is requires either taking on extra mass or losing some, and the repercussions of either are still unclear to Jane. Aside from her shifting, she also carries within her a panther, an alternate self she refers to as Beast. Though they are separate entities, and can sense one another in either form, Jane appears to maintain control in both shapes. Typically, Jane takes on Beast’s form, using the cat abilities to aid in hunting the rogue. In addition to the underlying suspense of discovering and overcoming the killer, Jane’s journey of self-discovery about her own history provides a fascinating story.
In the world of Hunter’s novel, witches and vampires were “outed” in the early 1960’s, the impetus for the event being rooted in a somewhat factual historical incident, demonstrating the author’s subtle use of humor throughout what is primarily an intense, suspenseful, and sometimes gruesome narrative. After dispatching an attacking vampire, Jane sticks to the shadows to avoid detection while musing, “I figured even the most cynical and jaded inhabitant might report a bloody girl in a party dress carrying a severed head by its hair” (125). Hunter skillfully weaves together characters and plot in this highly satisfying urban fantasy. Steeped in a heady combination of action, philosophical reflection, Indian lore, and mysticism, Skinwalker delivers on each level. This reviewer eagerly awaits book two of Jane’s story.
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Roc (July 7, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451462807
- ISBN-13: 978-0451462800
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To visit the author’s website go here.