Preternatura Books Club: Native Americans in Urban Fantasy

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.
Each book read will last four weeks, which is a much faster schedule than we’ve done on previous books. Today, we tackle the next few chapters of SKINWALKER, book one in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.
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.
First, let me get my regular New Orleans complaint out of the way. There were a couple of things that I let slide, but I have to complain about the NOPD’s Officer Herbert. He makes a big deal of telling Jane his name is pronounced “A=bear.” Except that, no, it wouldn’t be. HERBERT would be pronounced “HER-BERT.” It’s the name HEBERT (no R in the first syllable) that is pronounced “A-BEAR.” Hebert (not Herbert) is a common name in Louisiana. Sorry, but stuff like that drives me nuts. If there hadn’t been several lines of dialogue specifically telling Jane how to incorrectly pronounce the name Herbert, I wouldn’t thought a thing about it.  So okay, got that out of my system.
The interesting things to me as I read this chapter is the Native American connection (in this case, Cherokee), and how Jane tracks the rogue vampire to the home of an Elder (who lives at the edge of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park, no less!), and begins to have some flashbacks to the childhood she can’t remember.
I think Native Americans are often portrayed in urban fantasy as mystical or having powers. Mercy Thompson is an obvious comparison, and she’s a skinwalker as Jane Yellowrock is. In my Penton Legacy series, I have two characters, a child vampire named Hvresse, or Hannah, and Glory Cummings, who are descended from the Muscogee Creek tribe and who both have powers. (I live about twenty miles from the site of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, sort of the last gasp of the great Creek War, and this area was part of the Muscogee Creek lands.) Can you think of other series that have Native American characters, and do they have supernatural powers?
And as someone pointed out in last week’s post, this book is unusual (to me at least) in that Jane and her Beast are separate entities inhabiting the same body. She doesn’t so much turn into Beast when she shifts, but agrees to step back and let Beast take the forefront, so they have separate trains of thought that exist simultaneously. I really like this aspect, and it’s why giving Beast a point of view works so well.
Leo! I hope Leo becomes a major character in this series, because I’ve already found him very, very interesting. He has that whole evil-sexy imperious vampire thing going on, and appears to be the master vampire of New Orleans. So I assume Jane is going to have quite a bit of interaction with Leo. Those of you who are fans of this series, do you like Leo or hate Leo? I kind of get a Trent Kalamack vibe from him, to pull a character from another favorite series—essentially a bad guy, only maybe not all the time.

Share your thoughts on SKINWALKER to enter for the book drawing! Next week, we’ll continue with the next few chapters. I’m not reading as fast on this one as I’d hoped because of my own deadlines but I still hope to get through it by mid-October to keep the book club on schedule. The reading schedule for the book club can now be found on the righthand column of the blog page.

31 thoughts on “Preternatura Books Club: Native Americans in Urban Fantasy

  1. Here’s a couple:

    C.E. Murphy’s Walker Papers series, starting with URBAN SHAMAN, is about a skinwalker, Joanne Walker, half-Native, half-Irish.

    Kelly Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series, starting with THE GATHERING, is about another skinwalker, Maya Delaney, Navajo.

  2. i read under the same sky by geneveive graham, but this mix HR and PNR and the heroine has ability to see a vision in future, love this sereies

    and i have to admit that i have not read skinwalker before 🙁

  3. I bought Skinwalker because I was looking for Native American myth in urban fantasy. Jane and Beast are just great and very different from anything else I’ve read. Will be interesting to learn about other Native American series in the comments. Also a Mercy Thompson fan. Like the comparison with Leo and Trent. “Bad guy, only maybe not all the time.”

  4. Oh, great comments already! I have the first couple of books in the C.E. Murphy Walker Paper series in my TBR pile but didn’t realize it was a skinwalker novel.

    Roger, I’m anxious to see what kind of character Leo turns out to be. That was my first impression of him, though.

  5. I think in urban fantasy and fantasy, Native Americans are often portrayed with mystical powers because so much of our culture and religion isn’t necessarily in history books or a bible, but in our connection to the earth, animals and spirits contained within.

    I’ve only read the first 3 books in the Jane Yellow rock series, but I was impressed by Hunter’s portrayal of NA culture and Beast, without necessarily human thoughts and urges, but as the animal that he is.

    • So far, I totally agree, Lillie. I think she’s done an especially good job with Beast, who has sensory responses to what she sees and smells and hears. Faith Hunter’s ability to draw in all of that sensory detail in Beast’s “voice” is so well done.

  6. I definitely think that authors use Native American characters to give them mystical powers. Besides C.E. Murphy’s books I can think of two Jane Lindskold books Changer and Legends Walking who use Coyote as a major character.

  7. The mispronouncement of Hebert would drive me crazy too! That’s a mistake you’d think someone would catch. I did know a girl from Lafayette that pronounced her last name as “Hee-Bert”, so who knows. 😉

    I’m not sure that I would love this book, but I am enjoying reading your thoughts.

    • Yeah, the Hebert thing annoyed me…only because in the dialogue such a deal was made that “herbert” was pronounced “a-bear.” Uh…no.

      I’m not finding this a can’t-put-down read, but it might be because I’m trying to read a zombie western at the same time and my head’s on the verge of exploding!

  8. Sandy: Coyote is always good for NA characters in UF, especially skin walkers, because coyote is a known trickster and survivor. Also smaller and more agile that say, a wolf or big cat.

  9. apart from those already cited i don’t think about any more native characters with or without magical powers. There are a few but that’s not that common either but i love them

    i wouldn’t mind reading about this Leo ^^;;

  10. OK so I think that Mercy called herself a skinwalker, but to me she was just a coyote shifter. Maybe I am wrong. Anyway
    The Storm Walker series by Allyson James is one of my other fav’s that has a lot of Native American influces. they are about Janet and she is native american. I cannot remember what tribe. This is a fantastic series and Mick is HAWT. She can harness the power of the storms and I think she did a lot of accurate portrayal of Native Americans. Awesomeness……

    • You’re right, Annie. I also think of Mercy as a coyote-shifter and other than not being subject to the influences of the lunar cycle, she isn’t really that different from a were.

      I haven’t read the Allyson James books….but it sounds like a need to!

  11. 1] In the Jane Yellowrock series, we see a lot more of Leo.

    2] Turns out in my TBR pile I have books by C.E. Murphy, Kelly Armstrong and Allyson James. Have more Native American Urban Fantasy than I thought.

    3] The new, more relaxed, general Book Club format is working just fine. More comments / participation.

  12. I noticed the Herbert issue as well – obnoxious! But at least in chapter 12 there is a reference to “St. Charles Avenue” so that cheered me up. 😉

    Leo is such a delicious character! I like him – but I don’t trust him. I’m glad he stays in the series – he looks to be nothing but trouble, which will make for good reading.

  13. The pronunciation of the name sounds interesting.

    I haven’t read any books that include Native Americans.

  14. The a-bear thing got me to! As soon as I read it I thought ‘what?’ How annoying to correct someones pronunciation wrongly!

    On the native americans having supernatural powers thing – that reminds me of the ‘roswell’ tv series, and also the x-files, there were always native americans who knew things they shouldn’t know and could do things they shouldn’t be able to do. Not sure I can really think of any books with storylines like that though.
    I’m up to chapter 13 and I’m not really sure what to think of Leo so far. I think that you’re right and he’s going to be a main character, Jane definitely seems to like him!

  15. Thanks for the comments, guys! The more i read in this book, the more I’m liking it. Leo has totally fascinated me, and Jane’s background as well. Faith Hunter is simply brilliant at sensory detail. I iz jealous!

  16. oh, crap. i haven’t started this one yet. i’m still in the middle of meljean brook’s the iron duke.


  17. I’m making my way through the book but I do love Leo. You can never tell with people like him, totally unpredictable!

    As for Native Americans, I don’t recall any series in particular, but many I read over the year had a girl who was half native american and was a witch.

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  18. Tony Hillerman’s books about the Navajo Tribal Police, if published today, would probably be described as Urban Fantasy. They were published in 80s and 90s as I recall. They deal with supernatural events and skinwalkers. The protagonists – Leaphorn and Chee – are Native American.

  19. Tony Hillerman’s books about the Navajo Tribal Police, if published today, would probably be described as Urban Fantasy. They were published in 80s and 90s as I recall. They deal with supernatural events and skinwalkers. The protagonists – Leaphorn and Chee – are Native American.

  20. Janet Begay from Allyson James’s Stormwalker series was the one that came to mind for me. She’s half Navajo I believe. there was also a character in one of Carrie Vaughn’s earlier Kitty books that was a skin walker, but in that case, the character was evil.

  21. I also recommend the Allyson James series Stormwalker, I really loved it. And Coyote plays a big part in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. I also have the C.E. Murphy books on my TBR mountain. And I still have to start reading this book!