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Faith Hunter
Roc, 336 pages

Faith Hunter
A native of Louisiana, Faith Hunter spent her early years on the bayous and rivers, learning survival skills and the womanly arts. She liked horses, dogs, fishing and crabbing much better than girly skills. She still does. In grade school, she fell in love with fantasy and science fiction, reading five books a week and wishing she could "write that great stuff." Faith now shares her life with her Renaissance Man and their dogs in a Enclave of their own.

Faith Hunter Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

Creatures of nearly all varieties have populated the pages of urban fantasy novels of late, but none has quite the unique talents and personality of Jane Yellowrock, the heroine of Faith Hunter's Skinwalker. As the title suggests, Jane is a skinwalker, an ancient Cherokee supernatural being that has the ability to take the shape of any animal she chooses. A vampire hunter by trade, Jane nearly lost her life killing the blood family of a rogue vampire in the Appalachian Mountains, and after healing with her best friend, Molly, she has accepted a new assignment in New Orleans. A rogue vampire has attacked numerous tourists and cops, and Katherine (Katie) Fonteneau has hired Jane on behalf of the Vampire Council, to hunt it down. There's more to the assignment than tracking a rogue though. Hunter has created an intricate plot that includes vampire politics as well as the motives and loyalties of multiple players including Leo Pellissier, blood master of the city; his blood servant, George Dumas; Antoine, a witch and cook in a popular restaurant; and Rick LaFleur, a local "bad boy" who wanted the rogue job and appears a bit too curious about Jane's business. The rogue vampire has some peculiarities with which Jane must contend as well.

Jane is a kick-ass, motorcycle-riding heroine who knows how to fight and how to use her weapons, but unlike many über-tough huntresses, she accepts her softer side, the one that chokes up when her best friend's daughter tells her she loves her. She also enjoys dancing and wearing pretty jewelry and floaty skirts from time to time. As a skinwalker, Jane primarily shifts -- through meditation -- into a big cat for hunting at night. But Beast, as she calls her inner cat, has her own personality and share's Jane's soul. Beast is dominant when Jane is in animal form, and Jane is dominant in human form. Jane doesn't control Beast; they co-exist. Hunter seamlessly fuses the two personalities together, so the reader doesn't question their dialogue and understands both the harmony and the disputes.

While romance doesn't play a primary role in this novel, Hunter does include elements. In fact, I think it's a case of less is more. She adeptly creates powerfully intimate dance scenes that possess more sensuality than many a full-blown sex scene. Hunter has an outstanding ability for scene description. Many writers use hearing and sight almost exclusively, whereas Hunter seems to depend more on scent and touch. Perhaps, she leans toward smell because of Beast and Jane's innate ability to identify scent.

New Orleans has always served as a terrific backdrop for vampire stories, but Hunter takes it one step further. I've never been to New Orleans, but I'll know it when I get there: whether it's the sounds of jazz in the quarter, the heaviness of the air or the commingled scents of spices in the air.

Skinwalker is a stunning first book to the Jane Yellowrock series with multi-dimensional characters, a complicated plot and descriptions so vivid, they might as well be pictures or videos. Hunter captures the reader's attention from the first page and doesn't let go, pulling the reader further in with each chapter, dropping hints but never giving away so much that the reader might guess what will happen. This is one of the books where I missed a couple meals, and I picked up the book again to refresh my memory before I began this review, and damned if I didn't get sucked in all over again. Yep, that's two reads in less than a month. I don't do that for many books. Hunter outdid herself with this one, and I can't wait to read Blood Cross, which comes out this fall.

Copyright © 2009 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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