Thoughts: Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

Wow, I am still behind in these.

Don’t worry though, because some time relatively soon I’m going to hit Ken Follett’s World Without End and then I’ll have plenty of time to catch up. I’ve seen that book. You could build houses out of that book.

Anyway, let us begin. (Spoiler warning.)

Kitty and the Silver Bullet is the fourth in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series (I’ve rambled on about the third volume here) and this is where things start to get real. It’s sort of the end of the opening arc and the gateway to a more major one. So far we’ve seen Kitty be ousted from her pack in the first book, and seen her try to get used to that particular isolation of a social animal with no one to be social with. We’ve seen her grow as a person, make friends, become more assertive, become more independent (her exploitative relationship with her original pack alpha really did a number on her at the beginning, and she’s really spent the following books recovering and finding out who she really is again), and even, in Kitty Takes a Holiday, begin to learn what it means to be an alpha herself. And of course, we’ve seen her solve a few mysteries along the way.

In Kitty and the Silver Bullet, she goes back home to Denver, knowing that she’s still supposed to be exiled. In an ideal world, she’d go back, get her business done and leave without anyone noticing. But ideal worlds don’t make interesting books…

Something that the Kitty Norville series does well, and really sinks its teeth into in this volume, is Kitty’s relationship with her human family. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any kind of paranormal or urban fantasy where the protagonist even has a family worth mentioning, let alone a relationship with them. Everyone seems to be a consummate loner with their personality meters stuck on Snark (and here’s an unpopular opinion for you: snark isn’t a personality. Sorry!) But even in the books where Kitty is away from home, her mother phones her regularly, and though she does try to hide the extent of her problems, it’s in a very normal child-parent dynamic rather than the irritating drama-causing non-communication used as a cheap plot device in lesser books. And that gets subverted in this book, which I really liked – Kitty’s mother is having problems of her own that she’s blithely hiding from her daughter. So it becomes less a hackneyed “protecting loved ones from the angsty danger of the paranormal world” and more a family trait.

Kitty’s relationship with her sister is also pretty great. I said in my thoughts on Kitty Takes a Holiday that the series deals a lot with real world issues rather than relying on A Bigger Bad with every volume, and her conversation with her sister, who feels natural resentment about being the one left at home to look after ageing (and newly ill) parents really resonated with me. Partly because I’m in a similar situation, or have set myself up to be. My parents are still basically in their prime, but I’m the sister who’s away from home.

One of the best parts of this book is that we get to see how Kitty has grown in a very tangible way. We saw how she was when she left Carl and Meg, the toxic alpha couple, and we can see how much more in control she is when she meets them again for the first time since then. We even get to see her compared very directly with a new werewolf who’s almost literally replaced her in the pack, who was made to replace her, and suddenly Kitty realises that she is the strong one, that her leaving the pack was a big deal and not everyone could do it. I found the return to the domestic abuse parallel a little bit too pat. I suppose honestly I could say a lot of the big serious issues the series deals with are done quite lightly and resolve quite easily, but it’s still a novelty to me to find a good paranormal series that deals with them at all.

And of course, when it comes to tying up loose ends at home, there’s the matter of that silver bullet*, and the chance of a rematch with Carl and Meg hangs over the story…

Spoileriest spoiler questions are here:

So about the big question mark hanging over “The End”, I’m not sure how I feel about the newly uncovered vampire plot. It depends on how it’s dealt with, and there just isn’t enough here to judge it. I’ll be interested to see how (or if) Kitty becomes involved through being the local alpha, and how she runs Denver with Rick (will he let her run it at all?). I want to see Mercedes again, just to get her from the start in all of her amoral finery, and I want to see how Kitty’s werewolf family and human family make different demands on her, and whether they’ll end up in conflict.

* Is it a metaphorical silver bullet, or a physical one? Is it both??? Who knows??? I think both, as in she literally uses silver bullets (and guns) for the first time and you could say her family is like her silver bullet? Maybe?

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