I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #1
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy
Published by Roc on July 7, 2009
Source: my own shelves
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Also in this series: Blood Trade, "Easy Pickings"
Also by this author: Blood Trade, Kicking It: These Boots are Made for Stalking, Blood in Her Veins, Mercy Blade, Shadow Rites, Bloodring, Seraphs, Dark Queen, Shattered Bonds, Black Arts, Broken Soul, Dark Heir, Cold Reign, Blood of the Earth, Curse on the Land, Flame in the Dark, "Water Witch", "Explosion On King's Street", Dirty Deeds, "Shiloh and the Brick", "Black Friday Shopping with Nell and Occam", Circle of the Moon, Blood Cross, Spells for the Dead, "Easy Pickings"
First in the Jane Yellowrock paranormal fantasy series set in New Orleans and revolving around a shapeshifting Cherokee skinwalker who hunts vampires. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Jane Yellowrock books on my website.
I think that “Signatures of the Dead” (you can find it in Blood in Her Veins, which has a TON of Yellowrock short stories) is the real start of the Jane Yellowrock series.
It certainly helps explain Katie noting Jane’s early emergence from nowhere. I will say that Hunter does include a scene in which we discover how Jane “adopted” Beast.
Hunter uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Jane’s/Beast’s perspective, and it shows Jane up as a truly strong heroine. And not just because she wears leather, rides a motorcycle, and has a passion for guns, lol. Hunter’s characterization of Jane is intricate and fascinating, revealing so much about her, from her love of tea to her snarky attitude.
Hmm, an interesting historic twist…did’ja know Marilyn Monroe was a vampire?? Nope, I didn’t either, lol.
I like how Hunter switches syntax when Jane turns into Beast, makes it easier to distinguish between the two. Nor is it only language, but how their minds work, their conflicts and different perspectives, that fascinate.
Some interesting conflicts in this, what with Leo too interested in bedding a very reluctant Jane and Beast who is quite interested, the spying, Sabina’s hope for absolution(!), those interactions with the cops, Ricky-bo, and other vampires. The info dumps are not. Not dumps, anyway. Yet Hunter slips in all this background in a very natural way. Just gorgeous. There’s cultural information on the Cherokee…as well as vampire.
Whatever you say about the snarky Jane Yellowrock, she is NOT boring in a story that is full of action and violence.
Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete the mission Katie hired her for — or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own.
Jane “Big Cat” Yellowrock (Dalonige’i), a.k.a. “Injun Princess”, is a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and had been raised in a Christian children’s home. Beast, a.k.a. Wesa, is her go-to other half, a second soul within her, a panther. Bitsa is Jane’s beloved motorcycle, put together from bits of this and bits of that. Jane’s father, Edoda, was of the Panther Clan; her mother of the Blue Holly Clan. Stone is one of Jane’s requirements.
The Everhearts are…
…a coven of witches. Molly Meagan Everhart Trueblood is a powerful earth witch and Jane’s best friend. She has two children — Angelina “Angie” and Little Evan — with Big Evan Trueblood, a still-in-the-closet sorcerer. Angie-baby is coming into her power way too young.
There are seven vampire clans
Clan Pellisier is run by the 700-year-old Leonard “Leo” Eugène Zacharie Pellisier, Marquis, the head of the vamp council and Master of the City of New Orleans who holds the original deed to Clan Pellisier land, and is a believer in the divine right of kings. George “Bruiser” Dumas is Leo’s bodyguard and blood-servant. Immanuel is Leo’s biological son.
Brandon and Brian are twins who were born in 1822, lawyers, and Onorios with Clan Arceneau of which Grégoire is the blood-master. Correen is another blood-servant. Dominique is the acting head of the clan.
Clan Mearkanis is missing its master, Ming. Benjamin and Riccard are her blood-servants. The nasty Rafael Torrez is the heir for the clan.
Clan Rousseau‘s current blood-master is Bettina. It had once been led by Rousseau and his favorites had been Elena and Isabel as well as Joseph, Alene, and Louis.
Clan Laurent has Laurent as their master with Elisabeth and Freeman as her/his? blood-servants. Clan Bouvier had a favorite back in the day, Ka Nvista, a Cherokee. In 1803/4, Adan Bouvier was the master. The other clans include Desmaris and St Martin. Marco Esposito is a vampire. Sabina Delgado y Aguilera is a vampire priestess who sleeps at the vampire graveyard. Amitee Marchand, the intended of Leo’s son, has a brother, Fernand. They have been blood-servants to Clan Rochefort in France for two centuries.
Katie’s Ladies is…
…the oldest continually operating whorehouse, and it’s owned by the wealthy Katherine “Katie” Fonteneau, a.k.a. Katherine Louisa Dupre, a vampire, who also sits on the vampire council. Yet Leo is her master. Tom “Troll” is Katie’s blood-servant and major domo. Her girls include Christie, Rachael, Tia, Njala, Bliss, Indigo, and Ipsita. Miz A is the house cook. Carlos and Rio are some of the clients.
Derek Lee is a former Marine who came home to find his neighborhood full of bloodsuckers. He has a team, and they work loosely with Leo.
Rick LaFleur rides a bike as well…and Jane refers to him as either “the Joe” or “Pretty Boy”. He sure does sound gorgeous… Troll is his uncle and says Rick is a good kid gone bad but does play a mean saxophone.
New Orleans PD
Detective Jodi Richoux is Katie’s liaison with the cops. Officer Jim Herbert wants to look around and is a witch-hater.
Psychometry Law Enforcement Division (PsyLED) is…
…a branch of Homeland Security.
Aggie One Feather is Tsalagiyi, Cherokee, an elder of the People, a shaman. Her mother, Eva Chicalelee (Ewi Tsagalili) was of the Wolf Clan, Eastern Cherokee; her father of the Wild Potato Clan, Western Cherokee; her great-grandfather of the Panther Clan. Li si is a title of respect.
Marlene is the wife of Antoine, the cook at the Royal Mojo Blues Club. Marceline. The promiscuous Anna is the mayor’s wife with a dog named Sparky. Dr Ishmael Goldstein. Nelson works at a convenience store. His cousin, Rinaldo, drives a cab. Paco appears to be an informer.
Jacob is a Harley restoration mechanic who merged all those Harley bits into Bitsa. Beverly Stumpkin was a White House maid back in 1962. Paul “Brax” Braxton had been a detective in Blood in Her Veins: “Signatures of the Dead”, 0.7. A livereater is an evil type of skinwalker, a.k.a. skinchanger, Spear Finger (U’tlun’ta), and/or Raven Moker (Callanu Ayliski). Such was black magic, taking the skin of humans. Skinwalkers were protectors of the People. Father John provides holy water. Sister Selieah is a voodoo root doctor. Ken and Rose Broussard were victims. A wyrd is a type of spell.
Vampires prefer to be called Mithrans. The Vampira Carta is similar to England’s Magna Carta. Jerome’s little sister got turned a week ago. Blood-slaves are blood-junkies without a permanent master and no security; blood-servants are paid employees who offer work and blood meals and who develop a relationship with their master, one that might turn into being adopted into the family.
The Cover and Title
The cover is dark with its black, browns, and golds. Black borders the top and bottom with a figured border in black and pale gold on the left. It’s Jane in her fighting leathers astride Bitsa with her Benelli in her right upraised arm and her left holding onto a handle. With her braid blowing in the breeze, the bike is facing away from us with Jane twisted on her seat staring back at us. That central background is a distressed series of browns and golds. At the top is the author’s name in gray and immediately below it is an info blurb. The title is in a distressed white, angled from left up to the right. The series info is right below it in white on the right. Next to Bitsa’s exhaust pipes is an epigraph in gray. A testimonial in white is centered at the very bottom.
The title introduces us to the central character, a strong woman protagonist, a Skinwalker.