Monday, September 26, 2011

Kitty's House of Horrors

Kittys House of Horrors

Written by: Carrie Vaughn
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Language: English
January 2010, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/The Kitty Norville Series

Celebrity werewolf and radio host Kitty Norville is sceptical when she’s invited to participate in a reality TV show about the supernatural. Being trapped in a remote lodge with an assortment of vampires, psychics and lycanthropes is hardly her idea of a time (especially the vampires!). Still, she can see that making the show could help viewers understand the supernaturals living amongst them are real people, instead of just a freak show, and she agrees to leave her husband and the safety of her pack to join the cast.

At first, it all goes well – until the morning they wake up to find the electricity’s been cut off, the phones are dead, and the crew has vanished. They’ve walked into a trap, and now someone’s about to start picking them off, one by one…

Can Kitty marshal a set of psychics, were-creatures, and starving vampires to escape – or fight back – before they are all killed?


I am a pop culture junkie. It’s an affliction I have had since I was a child. I love to watch TV, read books, listen to music, play games and all of that good stuff. When it comes to television, admittedly I am a TV whore and I thank the gods for the wonderful invention of DVR so that I can do all of my running, jumping, climbing up trees and dancing instead of missing all of that good boob tube stuff. The shows I absolutely love are things like House, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, Fringe, Haven, The Mentalist, game of Thrones, Dexter, Walking Dead and Leverage among far too many others. I have never really gotten into the whole Reality Show genre. I have never seen an episode of the Bachelor or Big Brother, maybe half an episode of the Amazing Race. The reality shows I watch are things like Dirty Jobs, The Colony (It was on Nat Geo or one of those channels which dealt with a hypothetical apocalypse…awesome in short cause I could easily insert zombies in there), and yes America’s Next Top Model and oh yes So You Think You Can Dance (love love it). Occasionally I have watched an entire season of Survivor, usually while I am doing laundry or playing on the interwebs. Anyway, reality tv not really my thing. However I loved the idea of a Big Brother with supernaturals. It makes me smile. This is probably why I picked it up, well that and curiosity about this series.

This is the seventh book in the Kitty Norville series (I know, I know bad from to start in the middle. I just didn’t know it was the middle when I picked it up). Kitty Norville is a popular radio show host who just happens to be one of the most famous werewolves in the country. When she gets offered a chance to be on a supernatural themed reality show, she is hoping that it will be what the brochure says: a chance to meet up with friends in a posh cabins in the middle of Montana while convincing one skeptic that there are things out there that may be above the normal. But apparently if you’re Kitty things are never that easy.

Kitty’s housemates in this new version of Supernatural Big Brother are what I think are returning characters from previous outings. There are Tina and Jeffrey (mediums and psychics extraordinaire), Odysseus Grant onstage magician but a bit more than that, Ariel (a fellow talk show host), a former wrestler werewolf, two beautiful vampires and their companion who have a bigger part in the scheme of things, a were-seal (yep I said it, were-seal), and one very cranky skeptic. Everything is fine. Kitty worries about doing something stupid on camera and trying to make the best of a situation. But then people begin dying and Kitty finds herself being part of an 80’s horror flick rather than a heavily edited piece of reality television gold.

Things I loved: One: I think it is hilarious that there is a werewolf named Kitty. It makes me smile. It might be why I picked up the book as I figured the humor would be there. And Kitty is just a great character. Even when people are dying and the situation is grim, she definitely tries to lighten the situation even in an utter act of desperation or the only reason why Kitty doesn’t go screaming off into the night. She just tends to say stuff audibly whereas I keep it all in the head…usually.

I think one of the reasons I liked this was it could have worked as a stand-alone and yet intrigued me enough that I want to read the others. For instance I am assuming both the husband and Cormac have played heavily in previous books and while they were mentioned I didn’t need to know everything about them. Same goes with the impending war. It felt like an X-Files or Alias episode where you had an episode of the week but an overall arc and events that will come to head in later books. Which is nice. However, I will say that I am sure the deaths that occur in this book probably would have had more impact if I had gotten to know them in earlier books. And yet minus a couple of guys, I felt invested with quite a few of them and the way they were picked off was kind of shocking. I love when authors and others (yes I am looking at you Joss Whedon or George R Martin) are willing to take away the characters you want to stick around.

Speaking of characters I kind of loved how normal Kitty’s life was despite all of the action. She is a newlywed with a husband who is a lawyer, despite the whole werewolf bit. They have a friend in prison (nice that someone actually gets consequences for their actions which doesn’t really happen in books especially if it is a character you really like) and for the most part they are kinda normal.

One of my favorite scenes in this book was when Kitty meets up with a bunch of actual wolves (well that and the Anita Blake ssmackdown earlier in the book that made me giggle out loud). It is nice to see that off little juxtaposition in there of the werewolf and the wolves. It was a great little scene but ended far too quickly and had so much potential but then nothing really happened with it. It would be nice if she added something like that and then went with it in some of her latter books.

Things I didn't love so much: If I hadn’t started in the middle I might have felt more of a loss in the secondary characters that did not make it since presumably they are from some of Kitty’s other adventures like I said. I also think Grant was a bit too much of an enigma and easily was more of a hero than Kitty was, but I wonder if I would have understood him more if I hadn’t started in the middle. This being said I still loved all of this subtext going on between Grant and Anastasia (ooh can I please learn more).

I am also curious why in urban fantasy the vampires are always the big bad. There is never really anything above them or equal to them in the preternatural food chain. I understand why this is the way that it is and yet for creatures who are handicapped fairly heavily during the daytime, you figure that some sort of creature could top them and keep them in check.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow if you are new to the series, just to see what you think and if you want to read more. Buy if you are a completest of the series like I am. While yes this book is a bit fluffy in the sense that it is more episodic rather than a heavy hitter when it comes to character development as well as overall arcing plot, I enjoyed it enough that I am curious to read more about Kitty. It was a quick fun read, every bit like the horror movies I love to watch where the monsters are hunting the human ones. I don’t think it took itself overly serious either which was nice. It is what it is and that is fun, quick paced with a lot of humor added in for good measure.

Part of: A series. The Kitty Norville series.
Book One: Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Book Two: Kitty Goes to Washington

Book Three: Kitty takes a Holiday
Book Four: Kitty and the Silver Bullet

Book Five: Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand

Book Six: Kitty Raises Hell

Book Seven: Kitty’s House of Horrors
Book Eight: Kitty Goes to War

Book Nine: Kitty’s Greatest Hits (Short Stories)

Book Ten: Kitty’s Big Trouble

Also Recommended: of course there are the rest of the Kitty novels. For strong urban fantasy heroines Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs is one way as is Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews. For more werewolf goodness there are the women of the Otherworld by Kelly Armstrong though I do like something a bit different in the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


A Shadow Falls said...

One thing I'm curious about that I didn't get from the blurb or review is how the reality TV show drops off the air unnoticed? With any reality TV show there is always the publicity machine grinding out adverts, press releases, stirring up the media. That, and the fact that this big star suddenly goes missing, seems like a plot hole. I can't imaging it would've been an enjoyable read with such a gaping plot hole, so can you point out what I'm missing please? :)

I thoroughly agree with your comment about authors picking off central characters. I was actually quite surprised when I was reading Game of Thrones. Without giving too much away (although who hasn't read it yet?) I kept expecting a twist that would rescue the character at the last minute, only for it never to materialise.

Smirking Revenge said...

Basically they filmed the show to be aired at a latter date and without giving too much away the parent company knew some things but not others. As I have not read any of the other books yet I am not sure if there was any fall out from the events in the book that leaked into the others. You would think so, but who knows.