|Nightshade by Andrea Cremer|
This book gets a grand golden 5 out of 5 gnomes for being quite the intriguing take on a whole bunch of supernatural elements. In this book there are witches(Keepers), Guardians(wolves), wraiths, succubus, incubi and even a smidgen of zombies. The book is 453 pages long but those chapters sure fly by.
The book itself has a beautiful cover, the jacket art is by Suza Scalora and the cover design is by Linda McCarthy. The page breaks showing the moon phases is a genius idea and builds up the tension even more.
Calla is an alpha wolf of the Nightshade pack who very soon, in a ceremony arranged since the day she was born, will become the mate of the alpha from the Bane pack. She thinks she knows all the rules of her world but she's very wrong.
Then Calla saves a human boy, Shay, from an attacking bear. She is definitely not supposed to care for humans but feels a connection with Shay anyway and saves his life. Their first meeting ends rather abruptly and Calla is scared that the Keepers and the rest of her pack will find out what she's done. Then Shay shows up as a new student at her school.
Calla is a great character who is comfortable with who she is then as the union between her and the Bane alpha gets closer she has to conform more to what is expected of her. Let's just say if I had Naomi for a mother things would not have gone very well. Her Mother and Father are not in much of the book but you do get a peek into their personalities and what kind of alphas they are. The relationships between the older alphas of the Nightshade and Bane packs make an interesting contrast when you look at the younger members of the pack. There is a lot of pressure going on to unite the young alphas and start a new pack because it's been a long time since a new pack was formed.
The characters and setting of Nightshade really pull you into the story. Essentially just like any teenager Calla has a choice to make about what her future will entail. Her brother Ansel is supportive of her and understands a lot even though he's only fifteen and Bryn her second in command would follow Calla anywhere. Bosque, Shay's uncle is another part of the puzzle because he seems to be more powerful then the other people already in power yet the reader doesn't find out why that is for sure.
In a refreshing sort of way the two love interests are both actually likable and she has many reasons for choosing either one. It does show the double standard that Calla experiences with Ren being able to date anyone but she can't date and must stay pure. I do have a bias for choosing Shay over Ren though since I've been following the promotional stuff they did for the novel and thus found out a lot about the character. Then there's the prequel that makes me like that character even more. To be fair though the reader can easily see why Calla would choose Ren or Shay. She's known Ren for a long time and that she would have to marry him when she graduates. Shay though represents something new and the fact that change is coming one way or another. Throughout the book you can see that she does have feelings towards both of them. There are bits of steaminess here and there in the novel that keep you guessing on what choice she will make and who she will be with. This book is about choosing your destiny and figuring out which path is best and as the front cover of the book says, "She can control her pack but not her heart."
Through Shay Calla starts to realize that there are secrets and mysteries about the Guardians, The Keepers and the Searchers that she doesn't have all the answers to. They do find out some vital information but it may be too late. The history of this world is complex because the history that's known has as the saying goes been written by the winners. This witches war that the Keepers and Guardians took part in is still going on with the Searchers gaining strength. Calla and Shay have to find out what has happened in the past and what and who they should believe in now.
There's a twist at the end that does make you wonder if Calla did make the right decision or if certain factors thrown at her were indeed only a test of her strength as an alpha. Be warned that there is quite the cliff hanger ending but the first chapter of the next book is already available. This is a supernatural story that has a lot of heart and will leave you eagerly anticipating the next book.