Back in Book 1, "Skinwalker" when Jane Yellowrock rolled into New Orleans on Bitsa, her restored Harley, with a Benelli M4 Super 90 over her shoulder, loaded for vamp with silver flechette rounds and silver-tipped stakes strapped to her jean-clad thighs, she was an independent vamp-killer for hire with a "Have Stakes, Will Travel" business card, a kick-ass attitude and no sympathy at all for Fang Heads.
She was feisty and prickly and had a secret that she was trying to protect but she was, mostly, human. She stood up to the vamps who ruled the city, taking their money for cutting off the heads of rogue vamps while declining to pay them any respect at all. I found that I liked her and I wanted her to win.
When I met Beast, the Puma who reluctantly shares Jane's head, I fell in love with her directness and her sense of humour.
Together, the two of them were fresh and compelling and I was hungry for more. So hungry that I consumed the next five books and then picked up the rest as they were released.
This year, I read book 9, "Dark Heir" and realized how much things had changed.
Firstly, the good things. Faith Hunter's writing has grown more confident and accomplished with each book. She has a gift for writing credible and exciting action sequences and for making the supernatural tangible. The ensemble cast in the Yellowrock books has grown in size and depth so that the focus is no longer only on Jane. The , to me annnoying, will-she-won't-she Team Rick vs Team Bruiser seems to have been resolved.
Now the less good things. Jane has gradually moved from Vamp Killer For Hire, to someone who spends her time protecting vamps and is almost a part of the vamp establishment. This makes her much harder to like. The increasingly complex vampire political intrigues eat of larger and larger portions of the text, while Beast seems to have receded to the background. Jane is much less human than she was. She is a fierce predator, gifted at fighting and killing but with less and less time for anything else.
These may sound like criticisms, but they are more like regrets. All these changes make sense. They are the result of a healthy evolution of the storyline and the characters.
The current Jane Yellowrock still holds my attention as much as ever, I just don't like her as much.
"Dark Heir" is well written, does a lot to move Jane's personal development along and sets the stage for interesting times ahead.
Book 10, "Shadow Rites" comes out in the spring. I'm looking forward to reading it. I'm hoping to see more of Beast and less of the back-biting vamps but I'd settle for just more of Beast.