The action begins almost immediately, giving readers a scant taste of Sam’s everyday life before repeated crises encroach. As the book opens, her relationships seem casual, with people being kept at arm’s length, but her acquaintances are happy to come to her rescue even when she’s in significant danger. Over time, as Sam is attacked again and again, the emotional impact of the onslaught starts to wane. The relentless pace is also reflected in her romantic life; her love interest, Clive, eventually admits he’s been fascinated by her for a long time, but the development of their relationship feels startlingly abrupt.
Despite the plot’s demanding pace, Sam is a sympathetic protagonist, more so as the book progresses. Though she initially appears to depend on her friends’ kind assistance, the narrative traces her burgeoning confidence as she matures and discovers her own strength. She grows on a personal level as she allows herself to open up and become vulnerable to the people who care about her. This adventurous story will have readers rooting for a strong heroine as she blooms through confronting danger and surviving adversity.
Takeaway: This action-packed paranormal series launch will appeal to readers who enjoy a plot-driven, female-centric journey of growth with a side of romance.
Great for fans of Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
Correction: An earlier version of this review used a wrong name for the author's surname.
5-stars Must read 🏆
This entertaining start to a new urban fantasy series, set in San Francisco, features an engaging heroine in bookish werewolf Sam Quinn.
The Slaughtered Lamb Bookstore & Bar is the first in a new series about Sam Quinn, a lone werewolf who lives in San Francisco, avoiding her own kind since being brutally raped, turned, tortured and almost killed seven years earlier.
She runs a bar for paranormal creatures, which has two amazing features - a plate glass window looking out at the ocean, which is submerged at high tide, and a built-in bookshop. When an unprovoked attack removes the magical protection bestowed by her mother before she died, Sam finds herself being targeted by unknown enemies for no apparent reason. Will the timid wolf find her claws in time to save herself?
This was was a hugely enjoyable read that sits on the right side of the line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. While there is a romance plotline - and you know as soon as gorgeous British vampire Clive is introduced who the love interest will be - it’s not the main point of the story - which is very much about Sam overcoming her fears and finding her power, helped by a fantastic and diverse array of supernatural friends. There’s tons of action, but also fun scenes of everyday life in her bar as loyal colleagues Owen, a wicche, and half-demon cook Dave bicker and tease Sam - but always have her back.
I enjoyed the writing style, especially Sam’s voice and the dialogue between the various characters. It’s told in traditional first person past which worked perfectly. I loved Sam as a character - while I was getting a bit frustrated at how often she was being attacked and having to be rescued by her friends, as you learn about her history and what was done to her, her fear and vulnerability make perfect sense, and it meant I cheered all the more when she learned to fight back. Kelly mixes standard paranormal tropes with an original slant and manages to throw in some surprises.
There were some minor writing hiccups - I don’t like it when the main character drops backstory into the middle of the action, especially when it’s repetitive, and if you’re going to write about werewolves don’t keep using the word “shifted” when you mean “moved aside” as it was distractingly confusing. Nevertheless I’m looking forward to Book 2 to see what happens next.
4.5 rounded up for a heroine who loves books!