Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meet Jane Yellowrock

A couple of years ago, I read Skinwalker, the first book in an urban fantasy series by author Faith Hunter.

The protagonist of Skinwalker is Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee shape-changer. Hunter's novels have some similarities to Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series. Both have Native-American skinwalkers as protagonists. Both heroines believe they may be the last of their kind.

But there are differences, too. Mercy is an auto mechanic who owns her own shop in the Pacific Northwest where she was raised by werewolves. Jane grew up in a orphan home and works as a killer-for-hire of rogue vampires.

Mercy changes into a coyote, but Jane is able to change into other forms if she has an object to help her suss out the creature's DNA. Her main form is that of Beast, a mountain lion who shares her body. When Beast is ascendant, the plot is told from her point-of-view in an untutored voice with her memories and sensations.

In Skinwalker, Jane is hired by New Orleans' vampire council to hunt down and kill a vampire serial killer. We meet a number of interesting characters: Molly, Jane's best friend who just happens to be a witch; Katie of Katie's Ladies brothel; Leo Pellissier, the Master Vampire of New Orleans; George Dumas, Leo's prime blood servant; and Rick LaFleur, a NO police detective.

I found the Beast sections of Skinwalker a little tiring, but liked Jane and the story enough that I purchased the second book in the series, Blood Cross.

In Blood Cross, Jane is still in New Orleans and has been hired by Leo to hunt down and kill a rogue vampire who is creating new, unchained vampires. Newly-made vampires are insane during their first ten years of existence and must be kept chained to protect both them and humankind.

Either Blood Cross was superior to the earlier book, or I'd gotten more comfortable with the Beast's POV because I thoroughly enjoyed Jane's new outing. I added Hunter's name to the calendar which I keep to track the forthcoming books of a short list of authors.

This past week I read Mercy Blade, the third in the Jane Yellowrock series.

Hunter just keeps getting better. I thought this was the best book of the three. The novel is nuanced: Hunter expands on her world-building, and Jane learns more of her heritage.

Vampires and witches are the only creatures who have "come out" of the supernatural closet. In Mercy Blade, Jane is still on retainer to Leo, and werewolves are about to come out to humans. When they do so, they allege Leo is a murderer.

Leo phones Jane with this instruction: "A persona non grata is encroaching upon my territory ... Meet with him, find out what he knows, and then send him packing." Booger's Scoot is the biker bar on the west bank where Jane goes to find this "persona non grata" and encounters a pack of very unfriendly werewolves.

The action is fast and furious, and I'm recommending this book and the series.

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