Review: Skinwalker

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1) by Faith Hunter

Quick Take: I wasn't bowled over by this story, but overall it was enjoyable. The protagonist is unique and striking, despite nominal comparisons to other urban fantasy heroines.

Book Description:
     A year ago Jane nearly lost her life taking down an entire blood family of deadly rogue vampires that preyed on the helpless local populace of an Appalachian town. Now, after months of recuperation, she’s back and ready to fight again. Except this time, she’s hired by those she’s trained to kill—vampires…
     Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind—a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. Back from hiatus, she’s hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.
     Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission—or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own…
Okay, so I told myself right at the beginning of this book not to compare this character to two other seemingly similar UF protagonists: Janet Begay of the Stormwalker books, or Mercy Thompson of the Mercedes Thompson books. For the most part this was easy to do, as Jane Yellowrock's similarities only go as far as the Native American heritage and general badassitude. And maybe the affinity for super-cool automobiles. ^_^

Jane's particular brand of "badazz" behavior is less of the fun/comedic sort, and more no-nonsense. She's perfectly capable of the occasional snarky remark, but she's aware that smart-alec comments--amongst so many ruthless characters--are the quickest way to get injured or dead. She is powerful and ruthless, however...which is what makes her a great hunter and skinwalker. Janet's also quite mysterious, since she has almost no memories from her life before the age of 12. Why is this so? Well, it has a lot to with a soul that shares Janet's body…a second consciousness referred to as Beast.

Having this first-person co-protagonists-in-a-shared-body setup certainly was interesting…it's not a frequent occurrence, that's for sure. But the dynamic did take some getting used to. This is because the emergence of Beast brings along very basic, beast-like thought processes replete with telegraphic phrases and elementary representations of complex concepts. It felt very stark, almost overly so…it's sort of reminiscent of beat poetry. However, I slowly got used to it (and I think the author slightly softened the narrative device over time).

The book was was enjoyable overall, but I must admit that it was not the most memorable affair for me. I just didn't form an attachment to anything. Not the protagonist, not the potential love interests (but I thought they were cads, so maybe that's a contributing factor ^_^). And I wasn't really bowled over by the climax and resolution of the tale. But there were bits of plot that seemed promising, and some character dynamics that were interesting: Jane's relationship with best-friend Molly and attachment to Molly's daughter, for instance.

Having said everything above, I do in fact wish to read the next book in the series. There were many moments where I thought to myself, "ooh, this looks promising…" which is a promising occurrence in and of itself. ^_^ The setting (New Orleans) was warm and familiar yet fresh; the supernatural world seemed intriguingly complex; and there is still much to discover about Jane's character and background. I look forward to further exploration of all of those things.

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars


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  2. Thanks for the review. I read a short story with this main character in an anthology and had to go buy this book. But I have not been able to get to it yet. I will definitely have to keep this all in mind when I finally get to it. :) Thanks!


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