Today's book review is Kitty's House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn.
This is book 7 in the ongoing series; a self contained episode but relying on ongoing characters that aren't fully explained.
I really have a problem with the basic premise of this book. Given the title, I don't think it's a huge violation of my own strict no-spoilers policy to mention that this book is a retelling of a classic bad horror movie. Some people might find it odd that a fan of werewolves and vampires doesn't like bad horror movies, but I really don't. Gratuitous death is just not my thing, and some of the deaths in the story are particularly dehumanizing. I started out wanting to really rip this book apart, but as I thought about it, I realized that, even as contrived as it came across, it's actually a surprisingly good job of justifying an utterly silly plot -- enough so that the plot holes that actually stuck in my craw were surprisingly minor ones. Mainly, this book was just a really mean thing to do to some characters that I've actually come to like a lot. And despite that, we manage to advance some bits of the larger story arc and have some actual character development.
6 out of 10.
Kitty gets hornswaggled into participating in a sleazy reality TV production. (She's smarter than that, except for the fact that we wouldn't have a book if she said no, or even if she ran the whole fishy thing by her lawyer husband before saying yes.) About a dozen of the most prominent paranormals -- werewolves, vampires, psychics, plus the host of another talk show about the occult, who's just human -- are going to spend two weeks in an achingly beautiful but absurdly isolated location attempting to convince a famous skeptic that the supernatural really exists. This could have been fun, and actually a lot better than most reality TV (except for the probable toll it would take on the skeptic's sanity -- the show appeared to be intended to make him break down on camera), but a couple of days in, Kitty finds Dorian, the nice male model that the two vampires had brought along as their (uncoerced and happy) food supply, dead. Shortly thereafter, she discovers the bodies of the three production assistants. Dorian could maybe have been an accident, but the PAs were shot. One of the things that was squicky about this book for me was that, while all of other deaths were treated as real people, the PAs were just scenery -- even though they'd been given at least a little bit of identity on screen and the cast had interacted with them. The generator has been sabotaged and the satellite phone is missing. The worst plot hole in the book is just how isolated this lodge is -- it's only accessible by air, a 30 mile hike to the next house. Montana just isn't that wild. Kitty and Jerome, the other werewolf, head to that next house to try to find rescue, and run into a silver razor wire barricade. While they're trying to find a way around it, Jerome takes a silver crossbow bolt, and then heroically puts himself in front of a second one that was meant for Kitty. I don't remember silver being quite as nasty in the previous books as it is in this one, but in this book, one cut from a silver object is death for a werewolf. Several more people die in nasty ways. They kill one of the producers who was shooting at them and Grant casts a speak with dead to learn that they are 3 nutcase save-the-humans-from-the-monsters fanatics who were determined to show that monsters could be killed. The good guys kill all 3 of them just before the cavalry arrives in the form of a search and rescue helicopter sent by Ben after Kitty stopped calling. Thanks to the physical evidence, all their stories matching, and a touch of vampire magic, the authorities accept that Kitty and her cohorts were the victims -- at least a better deal than Cormac got. Kitty got through the hard parts by asking herself "what would Cormac do?" At the end of the book, Cormac has just gotten out on parole for his manslaughter conviction in an earlier book. Anastasia, the older vampire, Grant, and Kitty have tentatively agreed to work together as the good guys to oppose the vampire mastermind Roman, who is sort of spiritually (though probably not directly) responsible for the whole ugly mess.