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Kitty Takes a Holiday
Carrie Vaughn
Gollancz (UK), 318 pages
Kitty Takes a Holiday
Carrie Vaughn
Born in January 1973, Carrie Vaughn grew up an "airforce brat" at Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento, California. A high school valedictorian, she received a BA from Occidental College in Los Angeles. After travels abroad and a range of jobs, she returned to school, obtaining a Masters in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. A 1998 graduate of the intensive 6-week Odyssey Writing Workshop, one of the top speculative fiction writing workshops in the USA, she now lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Kitty Norville series plot summaries
Reviews of Kitty Takes a Holiday1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Kitty Takes a Holiday is the third title in the Kitty Norville series, which began with short stories in the present incarnation of Weird Tales, and the novels Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005), Kitty Goes to Washington (2006). It is followed by Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2008), with Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand and Kitty Raises Hell in the works. Though it is the third book in a series it stands well alone, and while I would have undoubtedly drawn more out of the book had I read its predecessors, I had no trouble accepting the slightly alternative present-day reality, that of werewolves among us. However, one plot line seems to be left dangling or ignored -- seemingly not addressed in the immediate sequel -- when an evil entity draws blood from Kitty, she herself states that she has been tainted with an unspeakable evil that cannot but eventually develop within her, notwithstanding the protective amulets she already wears -- but perhaps this will be resolved in further books.

In Kitty Goes to Washington, Kitty, the host of a late night talk show about the supernatural, and a werewolf to boot, underwent the transformation while on national television. This led her to become a spokesperson and advocate for werewolves before a McCarthy-istic Senate Committee. So what is more natural, in Kitty Takes a Holiday, than for Kitty to take a break, put the talk show on hiatus, spend some time in a remote cabin and write her memoirs? Barring her writer's block and resentment of an opportunistic late show hostess usurping her listeners, everything is going smoothly until mangled animal corpses begin appearing on her porch, barbed-wire crosses encircle her cabin, and, to top it all off, a ruthless and indefatigable werewolf hunter, Cormac, shows up with her lawyer, Ben, recently infected with werewolfism. While managing the werewolf emerging in Ben, the three must fight police indifference, and something far more sinister.

The character of Kitty, still working out the kinks of how to keep her lycanthropy sufficiently under control to mingle safely in polite society, is well portrayed, as is Ben's confusion and lashing out as he just begins the process. This slight skew on present-day society is presented in an eminently believable manner. However, Kitty Takes a Holiday clearly remains a quick summer beach read, entertaining, well-paced, but not really aspiring to be anything more than a momentary diversion.

Kitty Takes a Holiday is hard to categorize. In my opinion, there is neither sufficient unsettling atmospheric detail (here I'm thinking Algernon Blackwood-level atmosphere) nor enough explicit blood and gore to qualify it as full-blown horror -- at either end of the horror spectrum. I recently read a couple of the Turkish-German author Akif Pirinçci's Felidae novels, about a cat detective investigating serial cat murders. These novels and the movie derived from them "pile on extreme gore and nightmarish imagery, still managing all the while to deliver a complex and compelling mystery", so graphic violence can be used to good effect, without compromising the mysterious or adventurous elements of a tale.

Kitty Takes a Holiday might be better viewed as a light romance, with elements of adventure and dark witchery. If this is the sort of light entertainment you're looking for, then Kitty Takes a Holiday will deliver the goods, but don't expect it to be something you'll reread for the pure pleasure of the prose, or the uncanny atmosphere.

Copyright © 2008 by Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist whose interests lie predominantly in both English and French pre-1950 imaginative fiction. Besides reviews and articles at SFSite and in fanzines such as Argentus, Pulpdom and WARP, he has published peer-reviewed articles in fields ranging from folklore to water resource management. He is the creator and co-curator of The Ape-Man, His Kith and Kin a website exploring thematic precursors of Tarzan of the Apes, as well as works having possibly served as Edgar Rice Burroughs' documentary sources. The close to 100 e-texts include a number of first time translations from the French by himself and others. Georges is also the creator and curator of a website dedicated to William Murray Graydon (1864-1946), a prolific American-born author of boys' adventures. The website houses biographical, and bibliographical materials, as well as a score of novels, and over 100 short stories.

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