Hunted by The Others
Published 2010 337 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
They are the Others — the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. Now they’re stepping out of the shadows, and nothing in our world will ever be the same again…
In a town like this, being a P.I. can be murder…
Shiarra Waynest’s detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm — if it doesn’t kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artefact owned by one of New York’s most powerful vampires.
As soon as Shiarra meets scary, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend–a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing–and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren’t always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil–whether she likes it or not…
Hunted by The Others is the first book in a new urban fantasy series (H&W Investigations) published by Zebra Books. It is also the debut fantasy fiction novel for freelance writer Jess Haines.
Zebra Books are best known for their romances; historical, paranormal, contemporary – Zebra publishes them all. With the amount of confusion that generally exists around the classification of the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres in most libraries, publishing houses and bookstores (do they go on the horror, sci-fi/fantasy or romance shelves?) a reader could be forgiven for thinking that Zebra Urban Fantasy might be paranormal romance by another name. It isn’t.
Hunted by The Others definitely meets the main criteria for an urban fantasy novel – strong adventure/mystery plotline, a modern-day world like our own except that vampires, werewolves and mages exist alongside humans and a gun-toting female protagonist with a chaotic love life. Obviously these plot elements aren’t exclusive to urban fantasy, often they are equally well used in paranormal romance – except that in paranormal romance there is usually stronger emphasis on the romance and always a HEA.
Hunted by The Others introduces the reader to the world of Shiarra Waynest, human P.I and reluctant Other investigator. World building is done with a light touch. The author reveals supernatural elements and explains Shiarra’s world little-by-little throughout the entire story, neatly avoiding the common trap of dumping too much world building information at once. The slow reveal keeps the story moving along at a good pace as the relationships between the various supernatural factions are set-up and Shiarra gains some understanding of the difficult task ahead of her as she is manipulated into conflict with Royce, the vampire master of New York.
The story is narrated in first person by Shiarra. Readers get to experience first hand how her immersion into the world of the Others changes her in fundamental ways. There is plenty to like about Shiarra’s narration, such as her occasional humour and sometimes revealing honesty but for much of the story she was a hard character to like.
During the initial world building the author spent quite a lot of time drawing parallels between the treatment of the Others when they “came out” and the treatment of minority groups in the real world. She explained that there were laws that protected vamps and werewolves from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and that it was illegal to discriminate against them. She then proceeded to set up Shiarra’s character to be passively discriminatory and racist for the first two thirds of the novel. Eventually Shiarra has a moment of epiphany when she realises that she’s “a bigoted, racist moron” (her words, not mine) but it came too late for me to be able to meaningfully re-engage with her character. I’d already decided she was a bigoted, racist moron and I didn’t want to like her.
As an allegory about the nature of prejudice Hunted by The Others falls a little short. Other authors have used fantasy to explore this topic and the werewolf novel Benighted (titled Bareback for UK readers) by Kit Whitfield is probably one of the best examples.
Read as an urban fantasy novel Hunted by The Others has more going for it. Good pacing, plenty of fantasy action and the development of a typically clueless human protagonist into a kick-ass vampire hunter extraordinaire - being just the tip of the iceberg. While it lacks the darker, sharper edges of the Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson novels, it isn’t light-weight comedy fluff either. Hunted by The Others falls somewhere between the two extremes – making it a good all-rounder for fantasy fans.
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