Nightshade

by Andrea Cremer (Atom Books) R180, 00 ISBN: 9781907410277 

I do not like paranormal / fantasy / science fiction novels. Twilight was torture for me. Bella is a million miles from what I conceive a strong female character to be. The writing was poorly executed, and the plotting ridiculous. 

So I took Nightshade only because a good friend said I should read it. She doesn't like Twilight either. I'm glad she insisted. (Her review is in The Bluestocking Review as well.) 

Calla Tor is a werewolf, or a 'guardian', as she says. She is an Alpha, the beautiful blonde leader of the Nightshade pack. A strong woman with the nerve of a wolf and the heart of a human. She is to be mated with Ren Laroche of the Wolfsbane pack. The two Alphas are to form a new pack to protect the sacred site they patrol from the 'Searchers'. 

The guardians are ruled by the 'Keepers’ who apparently have the magic that keeps the world in balance. They are also slave masters beautifully disguised. Everything is going along swimmingly until Shay Doran arrives in town. He is human. And Calla saves his life when she is on patrol. A bear attacks him and she lets him drink her blood. He survives. 

This is Twilight in reverse, I suppose. But it's so much more than that. It is perfectly written by a writer who knows how to make you turn the page. The plot is supported by philosophy and mythology and history. Andrea Cremer is a history professor who has written about violence, sex, religion and power. She uses all this knowledge in this novel. 

The plot is, as it always is in this genre, the quest. The pacing is perfect. The suspense well-executed. The characterisation is what sets Cremer apart in a writing world swamped with Twilight lookalikes. Meet Bryn, Ansel, Sabine, Fey, Neville, Mason and all the others. Lumine, Effron and Logan will make your skin crawl. 

Nightshade is for anybody who loves a good read. It will remain with you. You will order Wolfsbane as soon as you are finished. Highly recommended. 

Amanda Patterson
4/5

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