Friday, October 1, 2010


Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Alright, so I went into this book wondering what I was getting myself into. Another book about teen werewolves? I was worried, to say the least. The cover is beautiful, but, as I read the book, I realized it had nothing to do with the book. The purple and the glitter? Nothing to do with the book. But after I spoke with author Andrea Cremer at Anderson's Bookshop's Prepublishing Event, she explained the cover had a more artistic meaning, the makeup being the shadows and the purple being the light on Calla's face in a certain scene of the book I can't disclose without giving something away.

That out of the way, I was surprised by how deeply the bonds of the packs were tied. Take a step back in time when marriages were arranged and females were expected to stay on the side and you've got yourself the basic set up for Ren and Calla's impending marriage that will bond the two separate packs together. The groups act together in ways relatable to gangs, intimidating to humans around them. I found this aspect of the novel very new and very intriguing.

But it's here when things get complicated. Yes, we've all heard of werewolves before, right? We know the basics of what they are. Though Cremer reinvents them slightly, they're not anything new. But the Keepers who control the werewolves, also known as Guardians, and give them their power? Completely new. The wraiths who do the Keeper's bidding? Also new. Some of the story is lost in trying to understand these dynamics, but I enjoyed reading something that was different from all the other books on the shelf.

Here is where I must talk about Haldis, a forbidden site that the Guardians are sworn to protect, but for what reason? Calla doesn't know. I, after reading, don't know. There is a scene in the book in which Haldis is extremely important, though nothing about it is explained. I was confused, completely, but this lack of explanation. I can only hope there will be more about this in books to come.

Which leads me to the end of the book. While reading, I noticed that the book had the potential to become a series. A love triangle develops as Calla's torn between marrying Ren like she's supposed to or falling in love with Shay, a newcomer to town who the Keepers pay special attention to. Like I mentioned earlier, the relationships between all the mythical creatures is strong as well. So the book has strong potential to be a series and, after finishing the book, I know it must be.

Ever come across a book that leads up to a huge event only to have a few details explained and then leave you hanging, waiting for the next book that will, hopefully, grant you a complete explanation of everything in the first book? Yes? No? Don't know? Well, this is one of them.

In my opinion, the ending of this book, leaving you hanging, is either brilliant or a cop-out. It's either brilliant because it makes readers return for a second book or it's terrible because it hardly explained anything. After meeting with the author and talking about the book, she explained that the ending was something she never would have done if it was a single book. Thankfully, she's signed on to write two others in the series, which I look forward to reading.

I usually bring up characters in my reviews, so here's my thoughts on those in this book. To begin, I love Calla. She's strong and feisty, but also emotional which brought her to life. Other characters, though, such as Bryn and Shay didn't come through as strong. They remained on the paper, imitations of how people act in real life.

As for the plot, the beginning was slow, but I enjoyed the pack in school, acting more like a gang than anything. It is an interesting point to pose, these teenagers attending school while being so unlike anyone else attending the school. Once the action began, it was one of those on again off again things where there was a strong chapter and then a weak one. This, unfortunately, left me wondering when something would actually happen, but when something happened, it came through strong, which was great to read.

I will say one thing, though. Cremer knows how to turn up the heat on the romance. If this is something you enjoy, the love triangle that blooms between Calla, Ren, and Shay is bound to capture your heart.

Though it's not one of the best books I've read, Nightshade was great for a debut novel and it's something I would like to hear more about. Cremer has two more novels in the series planned for release which I plan upon reading in hopes to discover more about Calla and the secrets that surround her world.

Rating: A-/B+

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