PSA: changing the spelling of types/breeds of paranormal creatures does not make them scarier, more authentic, or set your version apart from others of their kind in other literature. It just jerks me out of the story every time I see the word, and if I was only marginally interested in the first place, this is not helping your case. Sometimes it makes me question your grasp of the English language and the wisdom of your editor. Please, MAKE IT STOP. What used to be an obnoxious trend has made its way into pet peeve territory. Of course, if you’re writing a spoof, then this is totally appropriate, and you have my full endorsement.
Whew. I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. You’re probably wondering what inspired this little rant. I’m glad you asked! In my efforts to clear off my TBR shelf so that I can lift my self-imposed book-buying moratorium, I’ve gone back to some of the paranormals that I picked up at the height of the craze and never got around to reading before Vampire Fatigue set in. I’m not quite over my case of VF, which is probably due in large part to the inescapable and incessant advertising for Breaking Yawn: 2 Hours of Your Life You’ll Never Get Back Part 1, but I’ve reached a place where I can read about the supernatural again without it triggering my gag reflex, so I’m powering through some of the books that have been languishing on my shelf for years now.
Strange Angels (Razorbill 2009) by Lilli St. Crow was totally fine. Dru and her dad are new to a North Dakota town, the latest in a series of homes as they travel around the country hunting supernatural baddies. Unfortunately, her dad bites off more than he can chew and gets zombiefied by a very bad vampire. Dru then has to kill the zombie that used to be her dad. The whole thing is very unsettling. As Dru sits in the food court afterward trying to cope, her classmate Graves notices her distress. He adopts her and lets her stay at his place, which is conveniently located right there in the mall. This does not end well for him since he gets bitten by a werewolf (I just can’t write “wulf.” I’m sorry. Or you’re welcome) shortly thereafter. After several failed attempts to ditch Graves for his own good, Dru finally decides that he can stay since he’s already in pretty deep thanks to the werewolf bite and his subsequent transformations into a loup-garou. Also, it’s not like he has anywhere else to go since his home in the mall is now off-limits due to a potential werewolf infestation.
Super hunter Christophe, who smells like apple pie, shows up to protect Dru. She is suspicious, which is understandable since in the few days she’s had to kill the reanimated corpse of her father, drown a giant flaming dog, fight off a werewolf who chewed on her friend a little bit, and truss up said friend like a hog with a gun at his temple until she could be sure that he wasn’t going to transform into a bloodthirsty monster. She’s a little bit on edge. However, Christophe is clearly competent, and he knows things about her mother that she doesn’t even know. He’s much better at fighting off enemies, and since he is a member of a secret Order, he can do things like arrange for extractions. Predictably, Dru and Graves ditch Christophe since they don’t know whether or not to trust him, and then they find themselves in an even bigger mess: Dru going mano a mano against the super vampire that killed her parents. Christophe comes in with his own pack of werewolves, saves the day, and gets her to the extraction point. She and Graves are picked up in a helicopter by new kids, who are planning to take her to a school somewhere for training. The whole book was pretty ho-hum until the last few pages, when I got really interested in the school where she’ll be trained up into a super hunter. (I forgot to mention that Dru is apparently some sort of rare genetic anomaly that makes her Super Special. Basically the equivalent of being the seventh son of a seventh son, only with vampire blood.) So now I have to read the next one to see how the whole school thing works out. I’m a little concerned about it since Dru’s specialness derives from the fact that she is a female descendent of a female descendent of a human-vampire union, and apparently this is extra-special rare. This means that she’s going to a school filled with boys, and I suspect that an abundance of boyfriends will crop up. Strange Angels was refreshingly devoid of romance, which is unusual in a teen paranormal. The characters were far too busy trying not to get killed by flying serpents who come in through the window in the wee hours and the like to bother with hanky-panky. While some authors would have shoved Dru and Graves together due to the extremely stressful situation, Lilli St. Crow lets them sleep during their down time, which is much more practical and fits in with Dru’s lifetime of combat training. I appreciated that she didn’t try to add romance just to have it. However, I worry that she might overcompensate in later books. I’ll let you know. Now that I am all interested in this school for hunters, I will have to keep reading. Betrayals, I’m coming for you.