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Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – July 7, 2009
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Meet shapeshifting skinwalker Jane Yellowrock in the first novel in the New York Times bestselling series that captures “the essence of urban fantasy” (SF Site).
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 Katies’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.
Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission—or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own...
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“A lot of series seek to emulate Hunter’s work, but few come close to capturing the essence of urban fantasy: the perfect blend of intriguing heroine, suspense, [and] fantasy with just enough romance.”—SF Site
“Jane is a fully realized, complicated woman; her power, humanity, and vulnerability make her a compelling heroine. The fight scenes are exciting and the New Orleans setting is absorbing, but it’s the ever-evolving bond between Jane and her Beast personality that keeps this fun series fresh.”—Publishers Weekly
“Jane Yellowrock is smart, sexy, and ruthless.”—#1 New York Times bestselling Kim Harrison
“Readers eager for the next book in Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series may want to give Faith Hunter a try.”—Library Journal
“Hunter’s very professionally executed, tasty blend of dark fantasy, mystery, and romance should please fans of all three genres.”—Booklist
“In a genre flooded with strong, sexy females, Jane Yellowrock is unique....Her bold first-person narrative shows that she’s one tough cookie but with a likable vulnerability.”—RT Book Reviews
“Seriously. Best urban fantasy I’ve read in years, possibly ever.”—C. E. Murphy, author of Magic and Manners
About the Author
- Publisher : Ace; Original edition (July 7, 2009)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451462807
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451462800
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #304,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2016
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I just purchased the second book in the series and l can’t wait to see what happens next.
Which is exactly what happened when I came across Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.
When I first started reading Skinwalker, I thought that maybe I had gotten confused, and it wasn’t the first book in the series. Jane had just arrived in New Orleans to start a new job after healing from her previous job.
Yeah, the one where she and her friend Molly took out an entire family of rogue vampires, and she almost got her throat ripped out.
But it really was the first book, and the references to that first job were meant to entice you into reading the prequel story released in an anthology the same day that Skinwalker was released. It totally worked (on me), but it’s not necessary that you read Signatures of the Dead in order to understand the rest of the series. It’s very good, but it just fills out the bare-bones of the story that you learn about in Skinwalker. Fyi (just so you don’t scratch your head, wondering what’s going on like I did).
So. Jane in New Orleans for a new job. Right.
She motors up (on her badass, one-of-a-kind motorcycle) to Katie’s Ladies (a house of ill-repute) to finalize her contract with Katie of Katie’s Ladies, who is on the New Orleans Vampire Council, and who is hiring Jane to find and kill a rogue vampire who has been terrorizing the city, killing both vamps and humans.
And Jane is very good at her job.
There are so many things that I love about this book that I think I’m going to have to make a list. Lists are what I revert to when my brain feels full b/c I’m overwhelmed with all the goodness that was a book. SO—Why Jane Yellowrock Rocks My Socks Off:
1. She’s my favorite type of MC—tough on the outside, soft on the inside, both sympathetic and seriously kick-butt, not to mention hilariously full of snark.
2. BEAST. I’ve heard all kinds of complaints about Beast. Some as simple as, “I don’t like her, she’s distracting, annoying, etc.” Well, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I, however, LOVE Beast. She makes Jane a much more complex character, and her insights as a hunter and predator while Jane is on a job only add depth to the story.
3. Angelina. I’m a sucker for cute kids as secondary characters. When Julie showed up in book 2 of Kate Daniels, I was a goner. Angie-baby’s even more potent b/c she’s what? Four years old? Adorable.
4. Firm rules in reference to sups—I absolutely HATE it when authors try to polish and sparkle the existence of all things supernatural. You know what I’m talking about: vampires that don’t struggle with bloodlust, shifts from human to animal and back that happen in the blink of an eye and are painless, necromancers who only need to close their eyes and concentrate for a second or two to call up a specific spirit. No. Just, no. It takes time for Jane to change forms, and when she does, she’s starving b/c of the enormous amount of energy the change required. If she wants to be bigger or smaller than she is in real life, she has to either get the mass from somewhere, or store it somewhere. And Hunter’s vampires are vampires, predatory instincts and obvious lack of humanity included. I appreciate that.
5. The MEN. Rick, Leo, Bruiser, take your pick, they are all . . . SERIOUSLY hotcha hotcha. The twins aren’t bad either. Yes, TWINS.
And that’s where I’m going to end this expression of fangirlishness (but only out of self-respect, not necessity).
Skinwalker by Faith Hunter is the brilliant beginning of the Jane Yellowrock series. It takes you on a wild ride through the eyes of a puma concolor, on the roof of moving vehicles, all to catch a killer whose identity will surprise even veteran mystery readers. So if you’re looking for a tough-as-nails heroine who redefines what it means to be a vampire hunter, Jane Yellowrock just might be your girl. And Beast is pretty darn cool too.
Anyway, moving on. I kept reading, and it turns out the first chapter was the worst in the book, for me at least. I still rolled my eyes a little at how over-the-top it all was; Jane Yellowrock is one of those people whose bark is worse than her bite. Not because she doesn't have a bite; she can be violent and ruthless. Just that her bark says, "I eat babies for breakfast, puppies for lunch, and YOU for dinner," while her bite says, "I get the job done and can take care of myself." A lot of other characters in the novel complain that Jane acts like a teenager - you know the type, rebellious and rude for the fun of it - and she really does have an attitude problem.
Jane was born a skinwalker, a human being capable of taking on the shape of any other animal. I really liked the rules and limitations surrounding her ability, as well; she needs bones from the animal she's shifting into in order to "find the snake inside" - its DNA - and make the shift. It's a slow and painful process, so she has to pick a form and stick with it - once she's gotten into a fight, it's too late. And while she can transform into a creature that's bigger or smaller than she is, she needs ready access to stone so that she can absorb or dump the difference in mass. In short, Jane has an amazing ability - and the checks and balances surrounding its use make her decisions about it really fascinating.
What really saved SKINWALKER for me was Beast, the animal soul who lives inside her. Beast is only really happy when Jane transforms into a mountain lion, at which point Jane's consciousness fades to the background and Beast's rises to the fore. They are not two aspects of one personality; they are two creatures sharing a body. When Beast is dominant, the book is narrated in her voice - choppy, animalistic, confident. All numbers higher than five appear in Beast's thoughts as..."more-than-five." It's both funny and engaging. Their uneasy partnership was what pulled me through the novel, kept me turning pages. It's what got me rooting for the book and for Jane.
One really satisfying thing about SKINWALKER as a novel is that a lot of books, especially if it's the first in a series, will dangle a mysterious origin story in front of the reader and hold off on any answers. In SKINWALKER, we get to find out what the deal is between Jane and Beast. I felt almost spoiled to get so many of the answers I craved.
I also really, really liked the way that Hunter described her vampires. They're not just predatory beasts; they're reasonable, often humane creatures. They form deep emotional bonds with their human servants, who keep the vampires sane through bonds of love and affection. On the other hand, they're nicely vampiric: they drink blood often, they'll use glamour to convince a delicious-looking human to offer up blood or sex, and they can be very casual about feudal behavior and violence. We find out a little about the vampire origin story, and it looks like there's an intriguing and solid explanation for the vampires' complex behavior.
Well, there's plenty of nitpicking to do, but the core of the novel is good. I even got to like Jane, bad attitude and all. I'd give this book 3.5 stars - it's perfectly poised between "it's ok," and "hey, I really like this." I'll probably pick up the next book to see how it goes, so on that count I'm rounding up.
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Ending grated a touch, didn't seem to come together throughout the book as to whom it was, maybe those political aspects will be developed later but it felt like when the story started, perhaps the author didn't even know whodunit? And for a Master Vamp of 700 years, Leo's final mood/words were just childish and not in keeping with his character development thus far which had looked to be interesting...
Overall, would have liked far more nuance but still, I'll read book 2 and see where it goes.
Jane is a skinwalker with a memory problem. She stumbled into professional vamp killing while trying to work out her past. Vamps are short tempered, violent, unpredictable creatures who tend to over snack on their humans if they are having a bad day. Despite having a range of superpowers, they call in Jane to kill an unknown rogue. Early Laurell Hamilton fans might enjoy gruesome murders, but be aware, the rogue doesn't have the energy for sexy times. Since he smells liked a rotting carcass, Jane's interest remain professional. A welcome relief! A heroine who doesn't feel she needs to sneak into broom cupboards for a quickie between jobs. Instead we get detective work, shape shifting, and no sex.
So why aren't the reviews stronger? Well much of the narrative revolves round Jane, so if you don't like her, you're stuck. There is a dual voice: Jane and Beast, her skin walking alter ego. Beast's narrative is more fragmented in style and I can see that and the frequent internal monologues might irritate some readers. But I really enjoyed it. In terms of the animal element it was more like Men of the Underworld(with no sex.) than Mercy Thompson. As a female lead, I found Jane as interesting as Kate - (Ilona Andrews) and Dory (Karen Chance). And I really liked the way Hunter draws you in. You are dropped straight in to Jane's world and expected to keep up. a couple times I had to confirm that I hadn't missed an earlier novel, but boy was it nice to have a writer assume I could keep up, without black and white explanations or constant repetition.
#2 downloading as I write!!
Beast and her voice was pretty cool ... It takes a bit of getting used to but as the story went on I was looking forward to hearing beast's voice as well. The mystery surrounding who and what Jane is kind of develops throughout but there are still questions by the end.
The mystery of the rogue was pretty good too and kept me guessing throughout and there were a lot of interesting characters and politics going on.
Also something I want to know more about are Rick's tattoos! That was an unexpected revelation when you find out what they are - they must mean something otherwise they were way too much of a coincidence...looking forward to finding out more later in the series.
I did find it a bit odd that nearly every man (human or vamp) in this seems to be gorgeous and fancies Jane...although thankfully, despite flirting a bit with them, she doesn't jump into bed with any of them. I guess they are being set up as a love interest for later but there wasn't really any romance in this. It was definitely more urban fantasy, which worked well.
My only real criticism is that there were parts where the descriptions were just way too much - sometimes we hear loads of info about the decor and layout of houses or randomly, descriptions of tea, teapots and tea drinking!!?? Apart from those few instances though I found this an entertaining read.