Raven Cursed, by Faith Hunter, is the fourth book in the Jane Yellowrock series. The series follows the adventures of a skinwalker who works as a vampire-killer for hire in a world where vampires and witches have been exposed to the public as real. Werewolves and other supernatural beings also included later in the series. Jane Yellowrock is Cherokee with the soul of a mountain lion trapped inside her, possessing the ability to take on the forms of other animals. She is employed by the Vampire Master of New Orleans to hunt down rogue vampires but ends up having a lot more on her plate over the course of the books.
Jane is in Ashville, NC where she is covering the security concerns of a visiting vampire official. The vampire is visiting in order to negotiate terms with another vampire that wants to become the master of his region in the world. As the conference starts, people begin disappearing and Jane finds out that werewolves she had a past with are out to get her. They’ve been killing humans haphazardly and she must stop them before everything gets worse.
Alongside this, Jane’s witch friend’s sister is dallying in dark magic, causing a stir by spelling her sisters and vampires, along with trying to summon a demon. Using her unique skinwalker powers, Jane is able to resist the spelling and tries to make everyone else aware of what is happened. She ends up working with her friend’s husband, who doesn’t like her but knows that she cares for his wife.
The vampires continue negotiations, even though it is apparent that the witch wants the vampire that is trying to become master of his city. Through many twists and turns, along with relationship difficulties and the problems of dealing with supernaturals, Jane must find a way to straighten everything else with the least amount of humans killed as possible.
I discovered the Jane Yellowrock books not long ago. They are a delightful bit of urban fantasy. Faith Hunter does a great job of tying in different details throughout the story, as well as creating mystery. The books are page turners by definition, coercing you into wanting to find out more with each sentence you read.
The subject matter in the books is a mix of unique and tried-and-true. Vampires and werewolves are old news to pop culture, but the addition of a Native American skinwalker with the soul of a big cat occupying her body alongside her own is quite different. The politics of all the different groups are established well and the research is done perfectly – you can tell that Hunter put a lot of work into envisioning her characters. The lore is really satisfying in regards to the origins and laws of each species.
One of the best parts of the book is that Jane isn’t a swooning heroine that falls into bed with whomever she meets. Though she is often surrounded by gorgeous, eligible men, Jane proves that she isn’t just some push over female. Another great thing about the books involves the problem of religion; Jane is both a Cherokee but was raised in her ‘childhood’ as a Christian. She constantly searches to reconcile these two parts of herself while participating in a violent job, creating an interesting dynamic.
I definitely recommend these books to anyone that likes to read about a strong lead character paving her way through trials and tribulations while trying to stay true to herself and those around her. Jane Yellowrock is entrancing and each book leaves you wanting more. Rarely do you find a series where each subsequent book is just as good as the last.
Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012 – book # 4