She can control her pack, but not her heart…’
I wanted him to kiss me-wished he could smell the desire that I knew was pouring off me. ‘You can’t, Calla. This boy isn’t the one for you.’
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: graduation, marriage and then a life leading her pack. But when she defies her masters’ laws to save a human boy, she must choose. Is one boy worth losing everything? (from Amazon)
Andrea Cremer’s debut novel, Nightshade had me seduced long before I held a copy in my hand. I’d read a review that quite frankly had me drooling, and then saw the beautiful and hypnotic cover and fell in lust. Having now read the book I can tell you that’s changed to pure and absolute love.
Calla lives in a world where the rules are set in stone. As a guardian (werewolf) her job is to protect her masters (The Keepers) from their sworn enemy (The Seekers). As Alpha of the young Nightshade pack, she’s known since birth that eventually she’ll be united with Ren, Alpha male of a fellow Guardian pack, Bane. Together the two young Alphas’ will lead their newly formed pack and continue the protection of The Keepers and their closely guarded history. But shortly before the ceremony, which will bond Calla to Ren forever, she does the unthinkable and breaks one of The Keepers most stringent rules- she rescues and saves a human boy when on patrol. When Shay turns out to be anything but an everyday human, Calla’s world suddenly takes an even darker and more menacing twist. But Shay doesn’t even realise he is special, and together they find that everything they ever believed in or trusted isn’t as it seems.
Andrea Cremer has created in Nightshade a complex and fascinating world in which I found myself completely absorbed in. Details are dripped in very slowly, which really builds tension and mystery, especially around The Keepers. It’s quite a way in before we know what they actually are and the beginning of the book ran the risk of being confusing, however I found Cremer’s writing utterly compelling and the not knowing added to these sinister creatures and had me hooked.
I really liked Calla straight away. She’s strong, loyal and fierce but within the first few pages we’re shown her compassionate side when she saves Shay’s life. I liked how she fought with her morals throughout the book, how when it came down to it she was prepared to risk her own life without question, for what she believed.
I must admit to having a kind of ‘uh-oh’ moment towards the beginning of the book when the love triangle between Calla, Ren and Shay started to take shape, and I really disliked Ren, who was cocky, arrogant and domineering. However like everything about this book, Andrea Cremer turned my feelings and presumptions about him completely on their head. There’s a scene involving him and Calla in the final chapters, which had me a soppy, weeping mess. Shay on the other hand I adored straight away. The chemistry between the two was everything I want from a fraught and forbidden love and was just oh-so-romantic. I also found the dynamics and characters of the pack members interesting too, with Calla’s brother Ansel being a favourite.
What I really loved about Nightshade though was the exquisite world building, where dark forces and ancient magic live alongside humans, unbeknown to them. The depth of myth and folklore entwined between the pages create a believable and atmospheric setting, while Cremer’s attention to her characters, right down to their body language, brought them vividly to life. While the book is filled with fantastical and mythical creatures, when you strip it bare this is a story with its roots very firmly in the real world. At the back of the book a small Bio tells us Andrea Cremer is ‘a history professor and has previously written about violence, sex, religion and power and used this research to create the world of Nightshade.’ I can absolutely see this, because take away the werewolves and other paranormal creatures and Calla’s world could be ours; The Keepers could be the tyrannical leaders our world has endured, the faith and rituals are cult like, the battles of power between the packs and the alpha males and females the same battles which are played out in real life daily at work, home or school.
Nightshade had everything I loved in a book. A fantastic, strong main character, twisty and dark mystery and a love story that took my breath away. It was as beautiful and as exciting as I hoped and then some. Tantalizingly, Andrea Cremer leaves this book with a killer cliffhanger and a whole host of possibilities for our characters, so much so I was shouting for more! I even read the sample chapter of the following book in this trilogy, Wolfsbane, something I never do! So eager was I to soak up as much as I could from this brilliant book. I fell helplessly in love with Nightshade and can’t recommend it enough.
Published in the UK January 2011 by Atom
Thanks to the publishers for sending a copy to review.
Don’t forget to call back tomorrow for our stop on The Nightshade Blog Tour, where Andrea Cremer tells us what inspired her love of reading and writing.
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