RogerBW's Blog

Kitty's Greatest Hits, Carrie Vaughn 22 February 2020

2011 urban fantasy, short stories in the world of Kitty Norville – which means werewolves, vampires, and other odder things.

“Il Est Né” has the exiled Kitty of the early books in a diner so as not to be alone at Christmas, and another werewolf, and murder. (It's a welcome reminder, minor spoiler, that there are still non-supernatural threats in this world even if we don't talk about them often.)

“A Princess of Spain” looks at Catherine of Aragon's marriage to Prince Arthur, and why that might have turned out the way it did. I'm generally not a fan of the mindset that says “these historical events were really because of supernatural creatures” because I think it devalues the actual people, but this works effectively as a character study.

“Conquistador de la Noche” is the story of how Rick the vampire was turned, and why he wasn't just part of a standard vampire clique.

“The Book of Daniel” really does go there: it's the biblical story with a supernatural twist.

“The Temptation of Robin Green” is the selkie story, curiously inconclusive but an excellent dissection of someone's mind under attack.

“Looking After Family” looks at the early life of Cormac, just after the death of his father, as he starts to turn back into a human being.

“God's Creatures” has Cormac on the hunt, going after a supernatural killer. This shows the stress of Cormac's pre-Kitty lifestyle: it's not just that he's indulging in violence, it's that he's killing people, some at least of whom are not particularly bad people except for the occasional uncontrollable impulse to violence.

“Wild Ride” shows the backstory of T.J., who turned up in the first book.

“Winnowing the Herd” has the internal monologue of pre-fame Kitty at an office party. Nothing happens, but it's enjoyable even so.

“Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned” brings in another sort of supernatural creature to this crowded world. It seems that you don't need an actual Devil to make a deal with the devil…

“Kitty's Zombie New Year”, well, yes, of course there had to be zombies. But this is at least an interesting zombie.

“Life is the Teacher” shows the first hunt of a new vampire (set just after the second book), and how one might reach a compromise between the need to eat and stay hidden and something like normal morality.

“You're on the Air” is the other side of that brief call from the vampire working at Speedy Mart – and again how one can reconcile a vampiric state with wanting to be a good person.

“Long Time Waiting” deals with what happened to Cormac in prison, and would be a spoiler for book 8 at least. It's also an effective story that's not so much horror as “there are more things in Heaven and Earth”; one of the things I like about this book series is that even when it falls back on horror tropes it never falls into the incuriosity that seems to accompany much horror storytelling.

The book ends with some author's notes on the genesis of each story, which are rather more interesting and informative than usual antholohu introductions.

There's some excellent material here, and I enjoyed it more than some of the novels; I think Vaughn may simply be better at less than book length.

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Previous in series: Kitty's Big Trouble | Series: Kitty Norville | Next in series: Kitty Steals the Show

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