Stray, by Rachel Vincent (Mira, 2007)

Faythe Sanders thought if she went far enough away to grad school, she could escape her family indefinitely. Unfortunately, as one of very few werecat females of breeding age left in North America, daughter to one of the major Pride leaders, she’s been kept on a leash all her life. Sometimes a very long leash, but a leash nonetheless. And when her father sends Marc, his second-in-command to fetch Faythe home, she has no choice but to go, abandoning her scholastic career, friends and boyfriend without warning. It’s back to the family ranch for her, and all because there’s a bit of a crisis going on. . . . The daughter of the neighboring Pride leader has vanished without a trace, and foul play is suspected, and Faythe could be the next to vanish. Trapped at home under the overprotective, watchful eyes of her father and brothers, Faythe struggles for her freedom, all the while trying to cope with some old, unresolved feelings for Marc.

As things heat up, with danger threatening from all sides, Faythe attempts to win the freedom to choose her own destiny, only to fall into the clutches of some very nasty people, with some decidedly unwholesome plans for her. Now she has to marshal her resources and prove to everyone that she can fight her own battles. If she can, she may just find the freedom and responsibility she’s always wanted, and much more, to boot. If she fails, Faythe Sanders might never be seen again. Oh, and Marc might have something to say about that as well.

Stray is a fun, hot new take on the idea of werecats living among us. Rachel Vincent has really done a good job of creating an intriguing hidden society where werecats can either live in organized prides, or roam the unclaimed territories as rogues, depending on what sort of quality of life they want. Her cats act very much like cats, so that even when human, they have a certain alien quality to them in mood and behavior.

The plot is a little slow in places, but it always tries to keep moving forward. I will admit to finding elements of the book to be somewhat forgettable; it took me several flipthroughs after the initial reading to bring many details of the story back to the forefront of my memory. And for such a long book (600+ pages), it does feel as though very little ultimately happens. However, Stray works very well to set up future installments, with Faythe accepting and embracing her new role of authority and responsibility within the Pride. This book has its flaws, primarily where the plot is concerned, but all in all, I really enjoyed Stray, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next in the series, to see where Vincent takes her heroes next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>