Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review - Nightshade (The Witches War, Book 1) by Andrea Cremer (4.5/5 stars)

NightshadeReading level:Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Phliomel
Release Date: October 9th, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0399254826
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Witches War Trilogy
Source: Amazon Vine Program
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I got my copy of Nightshade through the Amazon Vine program.  To be honest what drew me to this book initially was the stunning cover; it is just beautiful.  When I read the description I was this just another paranormal werewolf teen book?  Then I started seeing reviews on the book and they were positive, not to mention the author is a Minnesota native.  So I decided to give it a read; it was a really well done book.  Somehow despite the long length, I zipped right through it and was completely engrossed in the story.  The second book in this series, Wolfsbane has a planned summer of 2011 release date and the third book, Bloodrose, is planned to be released in the spring of 2012.

Calla (Nightshade clan) was born to be an alpha.  Before her birth it was planned that she would marry Ren (the Bane clan alpha) and they would start a new clan of Guardians.  The Keepers had it all planned out.  As the night of Calla and Ren's joining gets closer and closer Calla is starting to question herself.  Ren keeps getting under her skin about her purity, which is required by tradition.  Then a mysterious boy starts at their school name Shay.  Calla ends up doing something forbidden when she saves Shay's life.  For some reason Calla and Shay are drawn together.  For some reason the evil Searchers are out to capture Shay.  Can Calla remain steadfast in the duty to her pack?  Or will her attraction to Shay and the mystery that surrounds him be her undoing?  Is the tradition that Calla was raised with really the right way?

The above description makes this book sound a bit more romance than it is.  There is a lot of action in this book; at heart Calla is a warrior, she was raised as a warrior and is a tomboy to boot.  Her mom despairs at trying to mold Calla into a proper alpha female.  Calla has an excellent sense of humor and was amusing to read about.  Calla is torn between Ren and Shay and drawn to them both.  That is the only part of this book that gets to be a bit much; every time Calla enters a room with either boy in it she melts into a pile of goo and turns into a raging ball of hormones...but that is my only complaint about this book.  That being said the characters have excellent chemistry and the scenes between Calla and the boys are very well done; it wasn't until towards the end of the almost 600 page book that I thought all the lusting was getting to be a bit much.

The book is a bit confusing to start; it takes about 60 pages for the reader to figure out that Guardians are werewolves, Keepers are sorcerers who govern the Guardians, and Searchers are evil mages who try to hurt the Guardians.  Cremer has done an excellent job creating a deep and complex culture with the Guardians and Keepers; it is realistic, intriguing and something you want to learn more about.  The dialogue and characters are really well done.  I thought Cremer's writing was just unbelievably readable; I seriously got through this dauntingly sized book in 2 days and never felt like the story was was just that engaging and that well written.

The characters are also really well done. Ren and Shay both have traits that are endearing and traits that are selfish.  Calla is a complicated character too; she is at times sweet and innocent and at times incredibly vicious.  The characters are likable but not lovable, they are too real for that.

The book wraps up some of the story but really leaves  you at a cliffhanger.  If wasn't the type of cliffhanger that was annoying, but it was the type that made me wistfully wish to be able to pickup the second book in the series, Wolfsbane, as soon as possibly.

Overall this was a story that was written exceptionally well.  The detailed history and complex characters make this a young adult paranormal book that really stands above most books that I have read in that genre.  The book does come off as more of a romance at points, but Calla is a tough girl and kicks butt enough to keep things from getting too touchy feely.  I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next book, Wolfsbane.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Debut Author Challenge
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge Book List
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge


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