Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“As Denver adjusts to a new master vampire, Kitty gets word of an intruder in the Denver werewolf pack’s territory, and she investigates the challenge to her authority. She follows the scent of the lycanthrope through the mountains where she is lured into a trap, tranquilized, and captured. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a defunct silver mine: the perfect cage for a werewolf. Her captors are a mysterious cult seeking to induct Kitty into their ranks in a ritual they hope will put an end to Dux Bellorum. Though skeptical of their power, even Kitty finds herself struggling to resist joining their cause. Whatever she decides, they expect Kitty to join them in their plot . . . willingly or otherwise.”
The Kitty Norville series is one that I’ve been following since it first debuted. I’ve always liked its combination of interesting characters, unique takes on vampire/werewolf myths, and the author’s willingness to include fantastic creatures that aren’t normally seen. I think that a lot of the series’ charm lies in seeing Kitty and her pack struggling to deal with normal human society. Unfortunately, Kitty in the Underworld has almost none of those signature elements.
A large part of the problem lies in the setting. Kitty is kidnapped and held captive in a silver mine with only four other characters, none of whom readers have met before. I don’t mind the plot about a magical attack on Roman (Dux Bellorum), but the novel takes way too long to get to that point. Much of the page space is spent with Kitty sitting around thinking, or the other characters pontificating at her. The way the plot is set up, there really is nothing for Kitty to do but sit and listen to the others—having her in a silver mine effectively isolates her, but it also effectively keeps her from doing much of anything.
The only new character that I really connected with was Sakhmet, a werecat with a gentle personality who is in love with a werewolf named Enkidu. The other three don’t get to progress much beyond two-dimensional characters: Enkidu is a typical growly werewolf, and the other two—a vampire and a witch—don’t have enough individual page time to get a good idea of who they are.
The book certainly isn’t badly written. It has much of the humor and snark that the series is known for. What it doesn’t have is the pacing that keeps the story so interesting. It feels like a short story that got padded out to become a novel, and in my experience, that’s a tactic that seldom works out well. I had to fight to keep from skimming through parts of this book.
While I’m definitely not put off of reading this series, I must say that Kitty in the Underworld is one of the series’ weaker books. Vaughn has an interesting plot arc going on with the vampire “Long Game” and I hate to see it getting stalled.