Preternatura Books Club: A Different Take on Shapeshifters?

Welcome back to the Preternatura Book Club! We’ll be talking about topics that are related to the book we’re reading but are general enough for you to pipe up and voice an opinion.

First, if you have a chance, head over to the awesome Grave Tells website today, where Molly is reviewing Redemption, the first in my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series. 
Now…book club…Each book read will last four weeks, which is a much faster schedule than we’ve done on previous books. Today, we tackle the opening chapters of SKINWALKER, book one in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. I’d planned to read the first six chapters but they’re really long chapters, so I only got five done.
Today’s giveaway will be a mystery unclaimed prize of your choice of genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, sci fi, fantasy, or YA. I’ll check to make sure you don’t have the book I pick so you’re guaranteed of getting something you don’t already have.
So, the Jane Yellowrock series is new to me, and I came to it with mixed feelings. Anxious to read a new-to-me urban fantasy set in New Orleans, but a little leery of reading a new-to-me urban fantasy series set in New Orleans.
So you’ll just have to bear with me while I get this week’s New Orleans-isms out of my system. In an early chapter, Jane goes to eat lunch with her new biker buddy, and they go to a neighborhood dive for crawfish. The crawfish are served with hush puppies.
Sigh. I adore hush puppies. I lived in New Orleans for 15 years and ate a lot of crawfish and other seafood and NEVER was I offered a hush puppy. Hush puppies just aren’t a New Orleans thing—usually, seafood is piled on top of either French bread or plain loaf bread. Just to make sure I wasn’t off-base, I called up my friend Debbie, a NOLA native and lifelong resident, and asked if she’d ever heard of hush puppies served with crawfish or any other fish or seafood in NOLA. “Not unless I make them at home,” she said.
Next, the man at the bar who serves the crawfish is an African-American guy who talks with a Cajun accent. Um, no. Cajun=Usually caucasian, more rural, French Canadian descent. Creole=Afro-Caribbean and French. Totally different accent.

At one point, Jane hops on her “bitsa” modified classic Harley-Davidson and races out of the French Quarter “down Charles Avenue.” There is no Charles Avenue–it’s SAINT Charles Avenue, probably one of the most famous streets in the city outside the Quarter, and if you’ve ever, ever, ever driven in New Orleans you know that racing anywhere in the Central Business District (or anywhere else for that matter) is a physical impossibility. The traffic is horrendous 24/7. Okay, I’m being nitpicky on that one, which was probably a typo.
I’m really enjoying the story once I got the bitching out of the way. I can’t help but make comparisons with one of my favorite series characters, Native American skinwalker Mercy Thompson in the Patricia Briggs series. It’s too early for me to give a fair comparison, however.
One thing I really find fascinating here, and it’s different than other shapeshifter books I’ve read, is that Beast is a point-of-view character. She has her own voice, and I love the way Faith Hunter is able to give us Beast’s voice, particularly the way she interprets sensory detail. It’s really brilliant. Have any of you read other shifter books that do this? I’m trying to remember if Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty has point of view, but I don’t think so. Patricia Briggs tells coyote’s feelings but they’re filtered through Mercy’s mind, so it’s not a different voice.
I’m finding Jane an interesting character so far—her background is intriguing. How she and Beast became one is going to turn into an interesting story, I can tell, since Beast is apparently quite a bit older than Jane. Her “ordinary Joe” references to Rick have gotten old to me quickly, so I hope she drops that hardass noir bit before too long. I’m liking him, though, so I’m anxious to see what his deal it.
Jane is definitely a kickass heroine, and we meet her well into her kickassitude. She has her manly bike and her manly weapons and aggressive attitude. It will be interesting to see if she softens up any as the book progresses and if Beast is able to get her mated. What do you like about her so far?
Share your final thoughts on SKINWALKER to enter for the book drawing! Next week, we’ll continue with the next five or six chapters and hope I can find more reading time.

37 thoughts on “Preternatura Books Club: A Different Take on Shapeshifters?

  1. I can’t speak to th inaccuracies in Skinwalker since I’ve never been to New Orleans but I’ve read a few books with plot inconsistencies and always find them annoying.

    Kitty’s wolf has some feelings of her own but not to the extent of Beast. I have mixed feelings about Skinwalker. So far I prefer both Kitty and Mercy Thompson.

  2. Happy “Talk Like a Pirate” day. The first thing I read in Jane Yellowrock’s world was a short story, “Kits”. Think you are right, I like Mercy also. Not being from New Orleans I missed those details: Cajun vs. Creole & Saint Charles Avenue & hush puppies. The “Joe” thing goes away I think. I like Jane & Beast & Skinwalker. Jane is definitely a kickass heroine. Looking forward to see what others think.

    • Arrrrrr, Roger. Happy Jean Lafitte day to you as well! I like Beast so far, so am anxious to see where this goes. I’m used to getting annoyed at wrong Louisiana details. It’s a really complex city/culture and I think it’s a hard place to get right if you haven’t lived there.

  3. Ahoy, matie! I agree with you about inaccuracies in books, they drive me crazy. I a book is set in a specific location, either get the details right, or don’t put the little details in. Also, I love me some hushpuppies and we do them in Texas with seafood. Got a craving now 🙂
    I haven’t read the Skinwalker books, but may have to put them on my (long) TBR list.

    • LOL, Susan. I love me some hushpuppies too. We eat them in Alabama, but in 15 years in Louisiana, I don’t think I ever saw a hushpuppy served anywhere, especially with crawfish.

  4. I’ve read the first three books in this series and gave up after that, because I kept having difficulties with Jane. She’s very hard to like for me at least.
    And Anna’s wolf in Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs has a bit different voice than Anna herself at times. Mostly when Anna is in human form and her wolfside is trying to tell her something.

    • I haven’t found her very sympathetic either, which may be why I’m liking Beast better than Jane so far. I’d forgotten about the Alpha and Omega series and, you’re right, Anna’s wolf does have a bit different voice. I have a giveaway of the first graphic novel in that series coming up soon!

  5. I have the first book(s) but haven’t read the series yet. I do want to. And now I finally googled hush puppy. Sure sounds and looks good on the wikipedia picture.

    • They are good 🙂 I’ve heard the name came from when people would have fish fries outside and they’d throw some bread in the oil and fry it and throw it to the dogs to keep them away from the real food. Thus, “hush, puppy.” Don’t know if that’s true!

  6. Well, I’m actually a big fan of this series. A big fan. I think Jane is definitely a kick ass heroine but she is also complex. Her past is a mystery and there is a lot of guilt and loneliness there. I also like the way Beast’s voice is integrated into the story. I think that voice has actually gotten better as the series has developed. Hope you like this one as much as I did! 🙂

  7. I actually haven’t read any of these books, but the idea of the animal shape having a separate POV is really interesting! It seems like it would be closer to the original werewolf mythology – of transforming into a beast- rather than simply being a human in a differently shaped body…

    • Thanks for the comment, Faith. So far, that is my favorite thing about the book–letting Beast have her own POV. It’s unusual and really well done. She uses her senses in a “non-human” way that feels real.

    • I’m glad that it’s well done, because it seems like it would be a difficult perspective to write from. Goodness knows I have enough trouble writing from a human perspective 🙂

  8. I’m laughing at your gripes over inaccuracies. I lived in Central Louisiana and I never had hush puppies served the entire time.
    I think it’s interesting that the Beast has his own voice. Don’t think ive seen that done before.
    I hope that you start enjoying this one more!

    • LOL. Thank you, Andrea. Never had a hush puppy in Louisiana either. But I do like Beast. I think I’ll like the book if it can stay out of my New Orleans “doghouse.”

  9. I’ll just add my voice to disliking those type of inaccuracies in books. Have someone that knows the city test read the book ahead of time. Or it’d be nice (but going above and beyond) for an editor to catch such things.

  10. I agree. A copyeditor should have caught the Saint Charles Avenue thing–it could just be a typo and heaven knows there are a couple that made it through on my books. The other things I’ve found so far should have been caught by having a local read it. Still, it was minor things and I’ll set them aside and see how I feel about the story as it goes on 🙂

  11. I adored Skinwalker and the inaccuracies went right over my head since I’m not familiar with New Orleans. I loved the way Jane and Beast coexist and how Beast shows her displeasure when Jane annoys her.

  12. It has to be really hard for a writer to write in a location with as much culture and uniqueness as NOLA without actually spending A LOT of time in the city. When I read Skinwalker I had never been to NOLA, but I completely understand that those inaccurate details can drive someone crazy! I do the same thing about Alaskan stories. Now – I have read ALL of this series. One of my favorite things I enjoy about it is the character building. Jane discovers more and more about herself (and you do too) through every book. I do not think you can really compare Mercy and Jane. They are really like apples and oranges because being being Native American is about as broad as being black or white. That is about the only thing they have in common. I love them both. For completely different reasons. I am sure this will ruffle some feathers, but the Kitty series just lacked depth for me. The Jane Yellowrock series was like an ocean in comparison. *ducks* LOL just my opinion!

    • No ducking necessary, Annie…or I’ll be ducking with you on the Kitty series 🙂

      The more I read of this book, the more I like it. I’m fascinated by the awareness between Beast and Jane, and find myself really wondering about Jane’s story.

    • That is part of what I love about it. Every book brings more and more of Jane’s history to the surface. It is nicely done. Too bad it was not more location accurate! LOL See if I ever write a book about NOLA I will have to spend lots and lots of time in the city to make sure it is accurate for you Suzanne! =)

  13. I can understand how irritating it can be when there are inaccuracies, it’s always a risk when you put the action in a real place. Yes for poeple whe never lived there it can seem normal but for the one living in that place it’s not that respectful. After all researh can be made.

    Now i’m intrigued by this beast POV, i don’t remember any book where shifters have that… the only time i saw that was in some manga with the “yokai” voice not really teh same but similar i think and i loved it so i would be happy to give this book a try just to see it

  14. I started reading the book after you suggested and I’m pretty impressed. I love Jane as a heroine and even if I had some problems digging into the story I know appreciate the beast’s POV.

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  15. I love Urban Fantasy and I’ve actually read a handful that have been based in New Orleans. I’ve never been, but I really enjoy reading about that location. I can see how little things like that would be annoying. I don’t know any better, so I go with the flow, but if I pick up a book that’s base in Seattle, you bet I will be on the lookout and know quickly if the author is familar with the area 🙂 Sounds like an interesting book, adding it to my wishlist

  16. I haven’t read any of the books in the series but I would love to change that!

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  17. Beast is one of the most interesting things about this series.
    Jane is pretty kick ass but I’ve never really liked Rick that much.

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  18. I like the fact that ‘Beast’ is a seperate entity, and that Jane isn’t the cat herself as such, but shares her body with it instead. I think I read a book recently where the werewolf part of the boy was slightly seperate, but still the wolf is described as ‘his/my’ wolf rather than as a totally seperate being such as ‘beast’ in this book.

  19. I think if I knew New Orleans the inaccuracies that you mention would annoy me too. Why to do authors write about real places that they are unfamiliar with? I been reading the fever series by karen marie moning recently and it’s set in dublin. I have been to Dublin and the places she describes are nothing ike the Dublin that I visited! Very irritating!

  20. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book… I like it so far, in spite of the inaccuracies (I visit NoLa as often as I can but am not a native so they do not stand out to me as much except for the SUPER obvious Charles Avenue.)

    Sometimes I feel like the author knows what she is trying to convey, but isn’t making it clear enough – and then I have to re-read a section to try and capture the image that I was supposed to be getting.

    I love Beast’s voice! That character was a pleasant surprise early on in the story. I have not read any other shifter books that do the same thing – the closest comparison I can make is to The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. His wolf is not a point-of-view character, but the wolf-y perceptions of the narrator are very raw and disturbing.