Review of NIGHT SHIFT by Lilith Saintcrow (see her blog)
JILL KISMET NOVELS
Orbit, July 2008
Jill Kismet works the night shift. Like the other hunters, she enforces not human law, but something more holy--and damned--the night shift deals with demons and the traders who bargain with them.
Kismet thinks she's seen just about everything, but when she gets an emergency call from the police, she realizes evil has reached new lows. The victims of mass murder appear to have been done in by a rogue shapeshifter--but there's also the stench of demon in the air. Shifters and demons are natural enemies--Kismet can't imagine even any going rogue enough that they'd link up with a demon. Still, the evidence points her in directions she doesn't want to go. Sometimes helping and sometimes hindering her, a group of shifters is also hunting the rogue--including sexy were-panther, Saul.
Thanks largely to her guilt in failing to save her teacher and mentor, Kismet is working herself to death, while paying the price she bargained with her own demon--the bargain giving her the ability she desperately needs to confront demons and win. Still, when the head of the New York demons arrives, even Kismet's demonic strength can't be enough.
Author Lilith Saintcrow creates a female version of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden--a woman who tries to right wrongs all the while taking all sorts of physical abuse. Saintcrow introduces a bit more romance than Dresden generally gets in the sexy and domestic character of Saul, but the angst and general physical battering will feel familiar to fans of the Dresden Files. Saintcrow's writing packs punch and kept me reading, wanting to find out whether Kismet could really survive the next mess she got herself into.
I was glad to see that Saintcrow set up a richer value system than simply 'demons bad, people good.' Still, I had a bit of a hard time reconciling Kismet's willingness to commit mass murder among hellborne with her sudden morality in sparing Cenci's life. Why, if killing Cenci would make her a murderer didn't her massacre of the hellborne when she was shaking up the town be the same? Likewise, I think Saintcrow decided to take the easy way out in dealing with Cenci's pregnancy--the existance of a child should dramatically raise the stakes--and turn a nice adventure into a really moving story.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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