Other (Other #1)
When a new werewolf pack moves into the area, tensions rise—and Others start showing up dead, including someone close to Gwen. Despite the methodical murders, the police are ignoring evidence that suggests a serial killer. In the midst of terrible loss and danger, Gwen—along with a mysterious and sexy guy who happens to be a Japanese fox spirit—risks her life to find the murderer. But Gwen is already the killer's next target . . .
At the same time a new werewolf clan comes to town and Others start showing up dead. The police don't help either. Then a mysterious and sexy guy shows up in town, who just happens to be a Japanese fox spirit. Can Gwen trust him enough to let him know her own secret before she becomes the killer's next target?
I was lucky enough to read some of Karen's work before she was published. One of her great strengths is her descriptive writing. The lush details sweep you away into this paranormal world where it's unPC to be an Other. OTHER also has the same type of writing I loved with her other projects. Gwen is likeable and her struggles and conflicts with her shapeshifting rang true. Karen is right on with the whole not fitting in. Good pacing and dialog moves this story right along.
Karen does a great job setting up this paranormal mystery. I kind of thought I knew who the killer was but was surprised at the end. The only problem I did have is the whole Christians against the Others. But I expect not only Christians will discriminate against Others in the sequel.
Another plus of Others is Karen uses urban fantasy creatures that some readers aren't familar with like the Japanese fox spirit.
Action packed with a likeable heroine and a romance that totally sizzles, this is a must read for urban fantasy fans. I can't wait for the sequel.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning a bit about the world of pookas. A small quibble with the story, is that personally, I wanted more information on pooka and Wales. Part of me wishes that Gwen had visited Wales/met her father/interacted with other pookas. But there's a possibility of a sequel and the book worked just fine the way it is. The ending seemed really rushed though. The build-up was done at a good pace, not too fast and not too slow, but all of a sudden, bullets were flying, people were being kidnapped and then BAM we know who the killer is. That being said, I never knew who the killer was, I was kept on my toes.
Tavian is a marvelous character. He is versatile, however, he has no noticeable flaws. So in that respect, he is not realistic. While I can't overlook that, I do have much love for him. I love that he's short, Asian, and hot. How many times have you read/seen an Asian teenage guy portrayed/described as 'cute' or 'hot'. Or even a short guy? So hooray for guys shorter than their crushes/hot Asian guys! Heehee ;) In addition to his looks, Tavian is incredibly patient and compassionate. Tavian and Gwen start off as friends and while there is chemistry bubbling between them, it is subtle. Tavian is a kitsune, which is a Japanese fox spirit. He can turn into a fox as well as create illusions. Zach (Gwen's boyfriend) is OK. I admit he's a nice guy, but he has some really rude/awful moments and even if Gwen forgives him, I cant bring myself to. I liked that the love triangle is so understated and while the reader may think it's obvious who Gwen should pick, the author completely surprises you with actions from both love interests. Gwen is utterly charming. She's not too bratty, not sickly-sweet, she was someone I could relate to and since her personality wasn't on either extreme, I felt that she was someone I would meet at my school (although she is homeschooled so I wouldn't actually meet her :p). She's quiet, but quite astute and she has a rebellious and protective spirit, which I adore. Her half-pooka side does not define her but it makes the story a more enriching experience.
Other is a singular novel set in modern day America in which Others are a natural sight, but they face prejudice. The prejudice that Others face can easily be uncomfortably remind people of how GLBT people are treated along with ethnic minorities. In addition, Gwen's feelings of isolation due to her half-pooka side run parallel to feelings of loneliness that other teenagers may feel as a result of what-have-you. The romance is refreshing since it's understated and while the love triangle leans towards one of the love interests, neither one is vilified. I had trouble liking Zach (as crazy as it sounds I was better able to sort-of understand the killer than him) but I think that has to do with my own personal experiences with prejudice. I can be harsh when it comes to ignorant people when it comes to discrimination. Gwen is a heroine that everyone will like and readers will delight in the fact that SOME paranormal creatures openly interact with humans. More pookas and kitsunes please.
*Reprinted with author's permission