Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Jane Yellowrock #1
Published by Audible Frontiers, Roc on April 13, 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 14 hours 29 minutes
First in a brand new series from the author of the Rogue Mage novels.
Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind—a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps...
My Initial Reaction…
I have mixed feelings and I think that maybe I should have read Skinwalker instead of listening to it, since Skinwalker probably required more focused attention than I gave it.
Even though I think I should have read, rather than listened to Skinwalker, that has nothing to do with the narration. Kristine Hvam was a fantastic narrator – she gave everyone really distinct voices and personalities. I loved the voice she gave to Jane and the way she did Beast was really great too. I just was more distracted than I should have been while listening and I think I missed details that would have improved my rating. I’m probably still going to try book 2 on audio because I liked her narration (and I already own it), but I’ll try to pick a time where I can focus better.
Skinwalker is told from the point of view of Jane, for the most part, and I loved Jane. She’s everything I love in my Urban Fantasy heroines – smart, tough, sarcastic as hell and says things that she really shouldn’t (often without realizing it). And she’s a Skinwalker! I know, duh, but… SHE’S A SKINWALKER. See this thing is, Mercy Thompson was one of my first Urban Fantasy reads and as a result, I have a perpetual weak spot for Native American storylines. Don’t let me confuse you – Jane and Mercy are 100% DIFFERENT kinds of shifters. But that Native American lore is front and center and that get me squealing.
So why am I not 5 stars in love with this? Well, for one, I have reservations about Beast. For lack of a better description and without spoiling things – Beast is Jane’s other form/persona…? I can’t go so far as to say I don’t like her because she’s brilliantly written and I think she adds a marvelous dimension to the story. She’s complex and full of mystery and some of the tricks she pulls towards the end have me VERY interested. But the sections from her point of view are… jarring? rough? IDK – I just know that if my mind wandered, it often was when the story was in Beast’s POV.
A character that I’m absolutely fascinated by and really hope we see loads more of is Angelina. She’s just 4 years old and Khrsitine Hvam’s voice for her is adorable. But I don’t like her because she’s adorable. She’s wicked powerful – at 4 – and sometimes she gave me the all-over tingles. She’s a awesome/creepy mix of adorable child and mega-powerful witch.
There are loads and loads of characters in Skinwalker and I think that I lost track of them – particularly the men. Jane has nicknames for them – Tank, Bruiser, Troll – but she also calls them by their real names and I got a bit confused about who was who. Now I’m not entirely complaining, because in the face of their yumminess, sometimes names don’t feel like that matter so much…
The reason I will most definitely be continuing this series is the world. I try to be forgiving about world-building in first books, but in Skinwalker no forgiveness is necessary. The world Faith Hunter has created is marvelously complex and REAL. Well, ok, technically not real, but so believable. There are rules — shifting isn’t easy and it has consequences, vamps aren’t harmless – they are devious and manipulative and bloodthirsty creatures – and Jane doesn’t have all the answers.
The mystery in Skinwalker was also really complex – complete with layers and turns. Admittedly, I got lost on a few of those turns. Sometimes it was because I wasn’t clear on who a character was. Sometimes it was because my attention had probably wandered at a key moment. There’s lots of flashing back to memories or visions and sometimes those got confusing. One time I could have sworn we were getting a flashback from Beast’s POV and then I realized it was actually Jane’s. Point is, the details really matter and you have to pay close attention if you want to try to solve the mystery yourself. But, even missing a few turns, I was able to follow the mystery and really enjoy the story.
I’m really excited about this world and I’m looking forward to trying out book 2!