Book Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Title: Skinwalker

Author: Faith Hunter

Series: Jane Yellowrock #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps…

The Review:

I have been experimenting with different urban fantasies over the last couple of years by reading the first book of each of the series. Granted, I haven’t been doing it on purpose, I just have reading ADD. Nonetheless, I’ve read quite a few, and have to say Skinwalker was one of the better ones. It wasn’t a particularly original story, but it was definitely entertaining.

I don’t know what it is about New Orleans, but they seem to have the lion’s share of paranormal activity. I can’t tell you how many urban fantasy and paranormal novels I’ve read in the last ten years that took place in New Orleans. I don’t really focus on clichés, but I do notice them enough to recognize when someone offers something a little different… and that’s what I feel Skinwalker did. I can’t really even lay my finger on what exactly made the atmosphere of this one so much more interesting than the usual hodgepodge, but it was. Maybe because the focus was more on the modern, urban side of things whereas most novels fixate solely on Bourbon Street and the Bayou. Now, don’t get me wrong – if those settings don’t make an appearance at some point I will be disappointed, but it’s nice to see someone start out with a slightly different flair.

I liked the main character, but felt like I really didn’t get to know her very well. I’m hoping for more depth going forward with her, and for all the other characters too, for that matter. I also spotted what I think may have been a potential love interest, but as of yet am not certain (which probably bothers me more than anything else). I’m not saying the love story had to smack me over the face – if I wanted that I’d pick up a romance – but I can thrive quite happily for a whole series on mere potential… something which this novel failed to deliver. This is not a dealbreaker though – I’m still clamoring for the next one.

I really enjoyed the whole concept of the skinwalker, including the beast “entity” that the main character is kind of sharing a body with. It gives her the advantage of heightened senses, even when she’s in human form, which added a nice dynamic the story. I do, however, have a couple of reservations. The first one is that anytime she refers to this entity, she calls it her beast, “My beast was hungry.” and “My beast could smell it.” and so on. I don’t know about you, but when I read something phrased like that, I can’t help but laugh at the unintended euphemism. If you need me, I’ll be over here giggling… Seriously though, it took away the gravity of several scenes when it definitely wasn’t supposed to.

The second reservation was how the author handled the beast’s POV (if you’re anything like me, your laughing at what I just wrote…). She tried to convey a more primal personality, not through behaviors and thought processes, but through shortened, clipped sentences. It’s like she systematically went through and cut out every word until the passage was just shy of being unintelligible. I have to say, those sections were difficult to get through, and almost boring. I feel like I understand what she was trying to do, but don’t feel like she succeeded. I’d like to point out that, other than those passages, I quite enjoyed the writing style. I’m willing to chalk it up to a writing experiment gone wrong.

Overall, I’m looking forward to what the series offers next. It seems to have all of the components I enjoy in urban fantasies, but just didn’t quite reach its potential in the first book. That’s okay though – there seems to be a consensus that the series gets better as it goes. I can’t wait. :)

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by Niki Hawkes

One comment on “Book Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Blood Cross by Faith Hunter | The Obsessive Bookseller

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