I feel I should start this review with a massive apology to Andrea Cremer who is the author of Nightshade. I remember when I first heard about the book, how much I wanted to read it and how I entered every contest I could find to win an ARC. I think it was a Haiku contest on Andrea’s website that won me the book I wanted and also introduced me to a style of Japanese poetry I’d never heard of before. I’m not sure what happened next but basically it got buried in my TBR pile. It’s also possible that I had been reading a lot of wolf stories at the time and wanted to read something different thus leaving it for a while but to my detriment, I never went back. I even bought a finished hardback of Nightshade for myself (this is without reading it) and gave a UK paperback copy to my sister (who loved it by the way). I’ve felt guilty about it for some time now and I swear, with every book I pick up next to read, lately Nightshade has been calling to me, demanding to be read. I finally gave in and read it in one sitting and then promptly kicked myself for waiting so long. Here’s the synopsis:
“Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?”
What a fantastically strong first chapter Nightshade gives us. It set things up really nicely although I didn’t know where the story was going to go at that point. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable with the school situation – the way the humans cower before the wolf packs and no one mixes outside of their own group. I did get used it though and I guess you might say that this has always been the case though and teenagers have always hung around together in packs of some kind or another. There were a lot of characters to keep track of and I do admit to finding this slightly difficult at first but I quickly became accustomed to who was who and what pack they belonged to. This is the part where I admit to having a crush on Ren from the start. The sexual tension between him and Calla oozed off the page and I bought right into it. Shay started off as an unwanted inconvenience that quickly turned into a distraction for Calla, an alternative to Ren that she’d never really considered. Ren and Shay are very different characters and yet they have similarities. They’re both strong characters but for all his bravado and alpha status, I see a vulnerability in Ren that endears him to me. Shay is one brave mofo for challenging Ren for Calla’s affections and whilst that too is endearing, I fear my heart is already taken.
The whole book is a ticking time bomb, building up to the union between Ren and Calla. This union has been arranged since they were children and so there was never any choice in it. Surrounding that of course is the war between The Searchers and The Keepers which is embroiled in history and forbidden texts. Calla feels like she’s never had a choice and suddenly, she is presented with Shay who opens up all kinds of possibilities to her. Needless to say that the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, one that will have you reaching for the sequel in a heartbeat.
Nightshade is a fantastic debut novel that is sexy, dangerous and alluring. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ve already picked up the sequel, Wolfsbane. If you haven’t started reading this book series yet, pick it up. NOW. Trust me ;)
Nightshade was published on 19th October, 2010 in the US and 28th December, 2010 in the UK. To find out more about Andrea Cremer, please click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.