Some books slide right into my mind as if there was already a slot there, waiting for them. My imagination lights up like a fairground, my mouth smiles, my eyes are fixed on the movie screen in my head and the world becomes a barely registered background noise.
"Kitty And The Midnight Hour" had this effect on me. It soothed me with a light, fun, fresh tone and then gripped me with darker themes, handled for their human impact, not their sensational value.
Kitty Norville is a werewolf (yeah, yeah, the name came first, what's a girl supposed to do about that?) and a damaged young woman, unsure of herself, habitually but unhappily submissive, living in the ruins of the life that was taken from her when she was turned against her will.
She has survived by grace of being part of a Pack which offers her protection and companionship as long as she accepts her status at the bottom of the hierarchy and keeps her true nature secret.
Kitty's main source of solace and personal identity comes from hosting an unremarkable late-night radio show playing old, sorry, classic pop music. One night, she decides to take calls from listeners and accidentally creates "The Midnight Hour. The show that isn't afraid of the dark or the people who live there". When the talk-show takes off Kitty's life grows more and more complicated as the demands of her Pack and of the supernatural powers that be conflict with her desire to go on with a show that is drawing attention to a world that is supposed to be secret.
I've grown used to books imposing pack behavior on werewolves so I was almost as slow as Kitty in understand that her Alpha is truly abusive, no matter how much the wolf in her wants to roll on her back and show him her belly. Kitty's personal growth in the face of this abuse is one of the most interesting things in the book.
The book is packed with action, including multiple fights between the wolves, which Carrie Vaughn describes vividly, sustaining excitement without resorting to too much gore.
The radio show itself is wonderful. If it was on the air, I'd be a regular listener. The tone is exactly right for a good talk-show and it provides a great vehicle for getting to know the supernatural world and its denizens.
The audiobook, and this is a PERFECT novel for an audiobook, is narrated by Marguerite Gavin (go HERE to read an interview with her). I've spent hours listening to Marguerite Gavin narrating the Kate Shugak books. I has stupidly assumed that I knew what her voice was like. Now I realize that I was listening to what she thinks Kate Shugak (a thirty-something Aluet with a damaged voice) sounds like. Marguerite Gavin's Kitty is younger and, of course, has a great voice for radio. It's a great achievement and it means I'll be looking hard at the (many) 0ther books she's narrated.
I'm hooked on Kitty Norville now. The first book provides lots of teasers on what might happen next and I want to hear more episodes of Kitty's show, so book two, "Kitty Goes To Washington" will be pushing its way to the top of my TBR pile very soon.