Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Papercut

August 13, 2010 by dkoch  
Filed under Columns

If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t think I’d like this book. Under normal circumstances, I don’t think I’d even both picking it up. The cover of Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty’s House of Horrors does nothing for me, not even on the most base Hey-there’s-a-hot-chick-on-the-cover level. I’m not a big fan of turning most supernatural monsters into identifiable, approachable characters that lead a story’s cast. In my world (for the most part), vampires are villains, werewolves are monsters and zombies are to be destroyed. (My wife has accurately accused me of being too much of a black-and-white approach to life in general at times, and this carries over into my fiction tastes.)

But despite the main character being a sympathetic werewolf (sympathetic in that she is the viewpoint character in Kitty’s House of Horrors), and despite the book being written in first-person perspective (which is another stumbling block for me most times), I found myself enjoying this book.

Carrie Vaughn’s writing style isn’t too heavy, and I was able to breeze along with the narrative even though I hadn’t read the previous six books in this series. The character was established quickly and the world was painted almost as quickly – Kitty Norville is a werewolf who hosts a popular radio show devoted to “monsters” and through Vaughn’s description of Kitty’s work day, we are able to comfortably adjust to a world in which werewolves and vampires are real and are just trying to find their own way in the world. Even if someone is a werewolf, they have rights, responsibilities, relationships, and so on, and Kitty’s life is a comfortable fit for a reader who’s used to reading about things like werewolves and vampires and so on.

Kitty’s radio show receives a lot of attention, and it’s no surprise that when a reality show cast with various supernaturally-gifted individuals, she’s approahced by the producers. She soon finds herself in an isolated cabin in the wilderness of Montana with another were- creature, vampires, psychics and the like, but this is a horror novel, so of course, something goes wrong.

Revealing that “something” would tell potential readers too much about the twist the really drives this story, but I will tell you this – even though I’ve described the writing style as “breezy” and “light,” Vaughn did something in Kitty’s House of Horrors that I didn’t expect. She turns the monsters-are-evil convention around 360 degrees and I found myself rooting for the supernatural creatures people as they dealt with the outside threat.

At first, I was a little put off by Kitty’s description of Wolf, her lycanthropic side. Her wolf-form is described as almost another character altogether, and it took some getting used to as Kitty’s House of Horrors continued. Eventually, I came to understand the choice Vaughn made in establishing Kitty’s Wolf-self as an almost separate character. It made sense, and she takes advantage of the first-person perspective to use these moments to shift gears from Kitty Norville the snarky defense-built-by-sarcasm point of view to something more beastial.

The novel does reference events in the previous installments, but I didn’t feel lost. In fact, I think Carrie Vaughn has found a new Kitty Norville reader in me.

Who would have thought that?

Kitty’s House of Horrors was published January 1, 2010, by Grand Central Publishing.


I will be attending HorrorHound Weekend March 26-28 (Indianapolis, IN), and NorWesCon 33 April 1-4 (Seattle, WA). At NorWesCon, I’ll be participating in the following panels: Another Zombie Panel, Zombies: How Do They Happen?, Old-Fashioned Horror, The Origin of the Species: Zombies and It’s the End of the World as We Know It. If you’re at either of these events, please find me and say, “Hi!” I’ll be the 6’4″ guy wearing the Mail Order Zombie t-shirt!


Papercut is copyright Derek M. Koch, 2010. The opinions expressed by Derek in Papercut are solely his own; he can be emailed at derek@paperbackreader.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Derek M. Koch is the producer of Mail Order Zombie, a weekly podcast devoted to zombie and horror movies which can be found at http://www.mailorderzombie.com.

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