Book Review: Nightshade
By: Andrea Cremer
Published By: Philomel Books (Division of Penguin)
Release Date: October 2010
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Nightshade is one of those reads that will go down as one of my favorite of all time. This book is one that is meant to be savored - each sentence swirled over my tongue and lingered in my thoughts. I found myself slowing down so the experience would last longer. I did not want to get to that last page and know that I would have to wait until July for more. I have not been so drawn into a world since I began the Twilight series in 2007. This is a pretty big deal as I have been searching for something to fill the void left behind when my interest in the Twilight Saga waned. Nightshade did the trick.
Andrea Cremer has created a world in which The Keepers (aka witches) are in control of the powerful Guardians (aka warrior werewolves) against the beautiful backdrop of Vail, Colorado. She does an excellent job of explaining the history of the relationship between The Keepers and The Guardians. All of her myths are solid and logical. I never stopped to question the plausibility of how everything fit together like I have often done with other books. I always find it refreshing to see an author take old stories and give them fresh new face lifts. The pack politics and structure were fascinating.
I was mesmerized by the history, paranormal lore, and characters that Andrea Cremer has created. Her writing style is fresh and appealing. I never once found myself bored or drifting away. If anything, I felt the same fear and anxiety that her characters face. It speaks highly of a book when I want to do nothing other than lose myself within its pages. The amount of detail and description in this book is phenomenal; the world is so vivid and dances through my brain as I read.
I also love that Andrea Cremer chose to tell the story through the voice of a strong, independent female, Calla. Calla Tor is an alpha female who knows how to take care of herself. She isn't one of those damsel in distress types that you so often see in YA books. She doesn't need saving and she certainly doesn't need someone to tell her what to do. Calla is a wonderful role model for teenage girls who are trying to find their place in the world. Watching Calla navigate high school, pack culture, and first love will surely speak to many readers. Calla is a symbol of the struggle between what is expected and forging one's own path. She also must learn how to cope when everything she thought was the truth turns out to be a lie.
There is a love triangle which seems somewhat cliche for novels these days. It seems to be in almost every book I have picked up recently, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Andrea Cremer does an amazing job of making both Ren and Shay irresistible to Calla and readers. The choices she has to make are difficult ones. So many writers make it very clear that one choice is better than the other or spend too much time on the love connections so that the plot and pacing suffer. However, I do not think this is a problem in Nightshade. Yes, the romantic part of the story is important, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. I am Team Ren by the way - in case you were wondering.
Andrea Cremer also does a wonderful job of creating a rich cast of minor characters as well. Bryn and Ansel were my favorite minor characters. I loved to see their personalities and how they interacted together. You can also tell they both love Calla and would do anything for her.
The ending of Nightshade is one that will surely have me anxiously counting down the days until Wolfsbane hits the shelves.
One Last Gripe: I want to know more about The Searchers. I don't feel like I had a good understanding of who they were and their role in everything by the end of the book. I am assuming this will be made clear in future books.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The lore and history
First Sentence: I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden.
Favorite Characters: Calla, Ren, Ansel, Bryn, Shay
Least Favorite Character: Efron Bane
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?