Nightshade is the first book in the Witches War series by Andrea Cremer. It was released on 28th December by Atom and the book is 480 pages long. The sequel, Wolfsbane is due for release in July.
Calla Tor has always known who she was. An alpha wolf destined and born to be the mate of Ren Laroche, another alpha wolf. Together, they are to build a new pack, rule their fellow wolves and protect sacred places by order of the Keepers. All of this and they are both still high school students. Mountain High is unlike other schools though, the students here know who is in charge and humans definitely do not mix with the wolves.
When Calla violets the rules, she puts her and pack mates’ lives in danger. Saving the life of a human boy by revealing who and what she really is throws her whole life into chaos. Once she begins to get to know Shay, the boy she saved, Calla begins to question everything she has ever been told, including her match with Ren. Their marriage has been arranged since birth but Shay has other ideas about what will happen. He wants Calla for himself but has a territorial wolf to contend with for her affections. Is a forbidden love worth losing everything for?
What I thought
I had been dying to read Nightshade ever since hearing about it so when I won a copy, I started reading it the week it arrived. I just couldn’t wait any longer than I already had.
Nightshade’s opening chapter was really exciting. It throws you into the world you are about to delve into very quickly and doesn’t spare any time getting right into the story. Right from the very start, I was addicted to this interesting and different world and knew this was going to be a book I would fall in love with. Everything about the way Andrea Cremer writes draws you in and does not let go.
Calla was a fantastic heroine and one I couldn’t have liked more. I’m all for strong, brave and smart girls and that is exactly what Calla is. She shows so much strength and loyalty from the very beginning and I loved her for that. If you think of what an alpha wolf is supposed to be then Calla has it all. As the young alpha of the Nightshade pack, she has a lot to deal with at such a young age of seventeen, although she has had to deal with it her whole life. It was what she was born for after all. Even though Calla has known what she has to do, it doesn’t mean she is happy with the way things are. This being said, she never complains too much, especially not to the Keepers because she has accepted her way of life. Then she meets Shay, the boy whose life she saves.
Until Calla saves his life, Shay has no idea about this completely different way of life. He is an outsider and when Calla lets him in on her secret, he has a hard time coming to terms with it all and just accepting the way things are. Shay has known a completely different life to Calla and has different ideas about the way things should work, especially having an arranged marriage to someone who you don’t even love. Shay’s outlook on life helps Calla to see her world in a completely new light and it makes her question everything she has ever been told. Usually I am all about the bad boys in YA books but Shay suddenly made me change my mind. He’s sweet, caring, sensitive and extremely hot. He is also really intelligent, quickly proving that he has a mind of his own and that he wont be told what he can and cant read. I loved that he stood up for himself in a new school where he knew no one and he didn’t seem to care what anyone thought of him.
I think what changed my mind slightly about the bad boys was Ren. Usually, he would be the kind of character I loved but there was just too much about him that I couldn’t like. Ren is really full of himself and quite the ladies man. He and Calla are not an actual couple in a certain sense so Ren has no problems with doing whatever he likes, which means dating any girl he wants. Due to the nature of how the packs work and their hierarchy, Ren can pretty much get away with whatever he likes a lot of the time. Being the male alpha of a new pack means that even though Calla will be an alpha with him, he has the last say. He is arrogant and while I would usually kind of like this, I didn’t with Ren. It was too much sometimes and I just wanted to see a different side to him, which luckily, I did later on in the book. Unfortunately, my dislike of him started early on so it was hard to think of him in any other way but he did redeem himself a little towards the end of the book.
Even though I disliked Ren, the love triangle between him, Calla and Shay was amazing. The tension between the three characters was very intense and I could feel everyone’s emotions so well. The minute Shay turns up at school is the moment I knew how much trouble there was going to be. Having already saved his life when she shouldn’t have, Calla is in deep trouble. This human boy makes her feel all sorts of things she shouldn’t be feeling and I couldn’t wait to find out what she was going to do about it. Due to the nature of the packs, there is also a lot of sexual tension between some of the characters and not only Calla and Ren. Even though I was routing for Shay, I couldn’t help but love the more steamy scenes between Calla and Ren, as well as some moments which made my heart beat a million times a second between Calla and Shay. One of the best love triangles written in a long time.
Nightshade is a book that never bored me, not even for one line. Along with a lot of action and chemistry between characters, Cremer has created a world so intricate and exciting that I couldn’t help but to be fully immersed in her world. The pack dynamics were great to discover and I loved reading about both the Nightshade and Bane wolves, both young and old. Wolves from both packs are really different but each has their own distinct personality. Getting to know each wolf was great and I already have a favourite. Ansel, Calla’s little brother was a wonderful character with a personality you cant help but smile at. I would love to see him included more in future books as well as Bryn, Calla’s second and best friend.
Nightshade has a lot more going on than a love triangle and some pretty awesome wolves though. There is so much history and mythology in this book and I loved every single bit of it. A lot of it I wasn’t expecting at all and I didn’t see most of it coming. I was glad that there were so many twists and turns and I loved that I was kept guessing at every single turn of the page. A large amount of the past was explored through Shay questioning what was really happening and found myself being excited to find out where the story was going to go. I don’t want to say too much about this though as it will spoil the story if you read it for yourselves.
There have been many werewolf books released recently but this one stands out completely from the rest. I have never read anything like this before and I was really surprised to know that this is a debut novel. If Andrea Cremer can deliver this much excellence in one book, I am sure Wolfsbane will be a massive success. If you’re wanting something different, this is definitely the book for you! Highly recommended.