Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This review is for the 12th book in the series, so I’m assuming those reading this are at least somewhat familiar with the setting and characters. Also, when you read this review, don’t stop at the first or second paragraph.
I have been reading the Kitty Norville series since high school. Kitty and her friends have become very dear to me as characters, and my loyalty to their story has allowed me to stick with the series through some of its doldrums. Since the eighth book (Kitty Goes to War) I’ve felt that the Norville series has been meandering, either pitting Kitty against underwhelming antagonists (such as in Kitty Steals the Show, and Kitty Rocks the House), an unfocused plot (such as in Kitty’s Big Trouble), weak conflict/resolution (Steals the Show, Rocks the House, and Big Trouble), and Kitty’s personality maybe slipping a little too much into the Yin (meaning her tendency to talk and question everything turns grating instead of humorous; again, Big Trouble…guess which book is my least favorite of the series?)
A lot of people feel disgruntled with the focus of the overarching plot going global, and in some cases, I’ve even heard that some folks are dissatisfied with the attention being entirely supernatural and less to do with the rest of the human world at large (one of the reasons House of Horrors is so popular in the series.) Honestly? I don’t fault Vaughn for keeping the focus on the supernatural. I like how she focuses on the supernatural in many ways. I would’ve become annoyed if suddenly these ancient beings who are, in some cases, thousands of years old, become suddenly threatened by some angry human mortals. Sure, there’s danger in numbers, but these ancient beings become ancient by creating vast networks and organizations that ensure their survival. They have years of wisdom on their side. In my opinion, someone of that nature who wants to take over the world is much more dangerous than a disorganized swarm of humans. House of Horrors illustrated how one small group could take down some supernaturals, but they were ultimately defeated, and like many upstart cells, they failed to rally more to their particular cause. Thus, it stands to reason given the story’s context that the biggest threat is not human. It’s supernatural. Period. This threat isn’t even purely vampire in origin, as the story eventually begins to suggest…
Never when reading any of these books did I find myself hating the series so much to quit it. As I’ve stated, I love the characters too much, and honestly Vaughn does a wonderful job exploring aspects of the fantasy/supernatural world in such a way that most authors don’t even consider, unless they’re trying to crack a joke. (like–do working vampires over 65 collect social security?) It’s things like that which keep me coming back. It shows a deep love for the genre, and I’m happy to say…
MY FAITH HAS BEEN REWARDED!
Kitty in the Underworld may start off a tad bit slow, but things quickly get intense when Kitty is suddenly kidnapped by a shadowy group of individuals. Later she learns these people are a cult, and they wish to recruit her for their fight against Roman. The problem? They won’t take no for an answer!
Despite the majority of the book taking place in a silver mine, things don’t feel slow or stuck. There is good momentum and escalation of conflict. The book gets almost cerebral as Kitty struggles to keep it together–physically, emotionally, and mentally–as she’s near-starved and dehydrated. The narrative lapses into Kitty talking about mythological stories, because the girl is given a lot of time to think don’cha know, and we come to see the parallels between these stories and Kitty’s plight. These portions are perhaps my favorite. Names take on a whole new meaning in this book, making Kitty ponder the power of identity and what her true role is in the fight against Roman. The stakes feel raised, and there’s a palpable tension as Kitty rails against her captors. The end of the book felt appropriately climactic, and I felt like Kitty finally makes some progress in finding a way to stop Roman.
This book was a delight to read, and I blasted through it in a day. I’m really looking forward to the next book, just as I always will be for this series–because Vaughn is a great writer, and Kitty is a wonderful character.
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