Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 528 pages
Source: ARC I won in a contest
Cover: I love, love, love this cover! Everything about it is beautiful. The color choice is attractive to look at, the model holds a lot of visual interest, the calla lilies make perfect sense and are striking and that streak of blood dripping off of the pointed "t" is perfect. There is nothing not to love about this stunning cover.
First Sentence: "I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden."
The Mini-Review: Sexy, funny, fast paced and full of characters that will stay with you long after the last page is turned, Nightshade is not to be missed.
The Book Summary:
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
Nightshade sinks it's teeth into you from the first page and doesn't let go even after you've closed the book. The writing is smooth, the plot is fast paced with just the right amount of mystery, the characters are awesome and the ending will leave you whimpering for the next installment.
Jumping into Calla's world is confusing but in a good one like first love. We're thrown right into the action but it doesn't feel like we are being forced into anything. The details about how things work in Calla's world are dropped at a comfortable pace and by the end I didn't have too many lingering question which is important, even if this is going to be a series.
Calla was incredible as a heroine. I've often heard Cremer state that she wanted to create a female character that was already entrenched in this magical world and she succeeded beautifully. Calla is easily someone to like because of her strong ability to lead. But don't let that deceive you, she has her doubts and she's not always sure if she'd leading her pack down the wrong path. Even though she's got two equally worthy boys fighting over her, she is willing to tell both of them where they can stick it if they cross the line and she is fierce in a fight. I loved that in this book, the female alpha wasn't downplayed. Calla had just as much sway as her counterpart Ren and she wasn't afraid to use it. But for me, the best part about Calla being a wolf was that even though she isn't exactly human, I could still relate to her. She wasn't so foreign that I lost interest. That's a fine line to balance and I have to give Cremer major kudos for handling it like a pro.
Both Ren and Shay, the two male leads, were delicious in different ways. I loved that I couldn't figure out which one I liked better because they were both amazing and I wasn't exactly sure who Calla would choose (I'm not even sure she knows herself...). Love triangles are tricky to write, especially perfectly balanced ones. Again, Cremer made it look easy.
Ren was sexy on the outside-- black leather jacket, tight dark washed jeans with a hint of danger shrouding him like smoke. He was witty, over protective and a bit wild. All the right things mixed into a perfect bad boy package. He pushed Calla to be the best she could be for her pack and knew exactly how to push her buttons. The oddest thing about him though was he was the safe choice. For once, the bad boy was "the right choice" for the lead instead of tempting her out of her destiny. I thought this was a great twist.
Shay was the intellectual. He liked to read and enjoyed the occasional comic. He was smart, witty and brought out a side of Calla she didn't even know was there. He liked to hike (which was similar enough to Ren to make him appealing) and he wanted to know the real Calla behind her duties (though I expect Ren did too, he just never got the time). While Ren looked the bad boy part, it was actually Shay who was the rebel. Shay questioned everything around him from the beginning. I thought this mix of Ren with the bad boy looks and Shay with the bad boy attitude was a really interesting one and made it really difficult to choose a side.
The supporting characters were all really fun too and added great elements to the story. There were quite a few other wolves in each pack but by the end, I not only could recognize each one by name but I could also name a few things about each one. They didn't feel like stock characters. My particular favorite was Ansel, Calla's brother (who according to the author was loosely based on her own brother). I thought Calla and Ansel's relationship was really different from the norm. They got along great and would do anything for each other. This was especially interesting considering Ansel was a guy and Calla was in charge of him and clearly had the authority and respect of her family. Usually that's a big deal for sons so I found it interesting that he was so loyal to Calla and Calla to him.
There were so many lines in this novel where I cracked up laughing or felt warmth creep to my cheeks or where I re-read them twice because they were so perfect. Every word on the page never felt wasted and worked to move the story forward. I believed in this world and it's characters and I was generally concerned for their well being. The ending left me miserable for the next installment and all of a sudden July seems like an eternity away.
Nightshade is full of intrigue and every word is as beautiful as the cover. Go get it and fall in love for yourself. It will not disappoint.