Pride, by Rachel Vincent (Mira, 2009)

In the werecat world, there are three ironclad laws which mean a death sentence if violated. No infecting humans and turning them into werecats. No revealing the existence of werecats to the outside world, under any circumstance. And no murder. Faythe Sanders is on trial for breaking two of these laws, ever since it was discovered she’d accidentally infected her ex-boyfriend back in college, abandoning him to his fate and killing him when he finally tracked her down for some payback of his own. Of course, in Faythe’s defense, she didn’t even know it was possible to infect him the way she had, and the death was entirely self-defense. Unfortunately, now she has to convince a tribunal of her innocence, and there’s every indication that they want her to fail, all part of werecat politics. Things aren’t looking too good . . . that is, until the proceedings are disrupted by the arrival of an extraordinarily rare werebear who wants to know what the werecats plan to do about a rogue pack of their own killing hikers and making a ruckus in his territory.

Investigating this mess, Faythe and her family discover a stray tabby, a teenage werecat female who’s pretty much gone feral in the wilderness and knows next to nothing of the werecat world . . . a state of affairs literally unheard of in their tight-knit society. Worse still, there’s still that pack of killer werecats prowling the area, and they have their sights set squarely upon claiming the tabby for their own. Can Faythe, her estranged lover Marc, and the others save the tabby, stop the killers, and appease the werebear, all without revealing their existence to the world? And will it be enough to commute Faythe’s death sentence? No matter what happens, Faythe’s love life may never be the same again, as those werecat politics lead to some unsettling changes around her.

This series has taken some interesting turns thus far, and Pride continues that trend. I’m not sure if it’s a strength or a weakness that some of the major plot points this time around hinge upon things that the werecats consider impossible until proven otherwise. After all, it doesn’t speak well of werecat society that there can be so much about their own nature they either don’t know or have dismissed as myth. However, that’s a minor speed bump of plausibility in an otherwise engaging story. Faythe’s continuing maturation and acceptance both of responsibility and consequences provides a nice undercurrent to the overall mystery and action that takes up the majority of the plot. Rachel Vincent keeps introducing fascinating secondary characters, such as the stray tabby, Kaci, and the reclusive werebear, Elias Kellar, and I hope we’ll see more of them as the series continues. Sadly, Faythe’s on-again, off-again relationship with Marc remains frustrating — one wants to lock them in a room together and make them talk about their respective issues and stop being idiots about the whole thing.

While I may have my complains about this series, and this book in particular, I can’t deny thoroughly enjoying it overall. Maybe I’m just a sucker for werecats, but it’s certainly a fun exploration of the concept, and I’m looking forward to Faythe’s next set of adventures.

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