The bloody, raw meat was tantalizing her; calling to her. She hated it and yearned for it all at once.
Stop, she ordered. What are you doing?!
So hungryyyyy, snarled a primal voice deep within her.
Don’t you dare! she screamed back.
But the primal hunger ignored her pleas and took over her body, forcing her rational voice deep within the crevices of her mind.
What would you do if you discovered you weren't human? That you turned into a bloodthirsty monster against your will?
What if your instincts, emotions and desires were torn between your own and the dark, dangerous animal lurking inside of you?
If it could make you yearn for someone you shouldn't, make you say and act in ways you wouldn't and overwhelm your whole existence?
If everything you'd ever known about your life was a lie?
In a world where a deeply hidden community is swathed in mystery, deadly secrets, betrayal and murder, Jaz Barker struggles to fight against the dangerous Beast within her and the emotions and desires it thrusts her way. When tensions ride high and people she cares about are put in danger, she will have to decide how much of her newly awakened animal-side she's willing to let in.
And if it is worth the risk...
This is a really hard book to classify into a genre. It's not really horror, urban fantasy or paranormal romance but it has shifters, and elements of several genres. Dark fantasy is the best description I think. Not all books can sucessfully bridge several genres at once but this is an example of it being done well. It is very much a character based slow burner where the tension and plot build towards the end so don't expect action packed sequences all through it. That does not mean boring as there is always something happening that takes the story forward. And yes, you will need to read book 2 to get some of the answers!
Let's start with the good stuff! First, the characters. I liked Jaz-feisty, stubborn and scared witness when weird stuff happens to her, which is what you'd expect. We get a lot of what she is thinking, her conflicted feelings, her less than sensible thought processes, so you learn a lot about her as a person. I like that she is flawed and normal and freaking out all the time, given her circumstances. I liked Alf, Ronnie, Skye and the gang a lot and they are well developed so that you care what happens to them as the story progresses. The sequence at the river had my heart in my mouth, especially concerning Ronnie and Alf. I don't want to give spoilers but it was the first time I was seriously worried for any of the gang and that shows that you have bonded with the characters. Fraya is good as the bad girl because she doesn't come across as just evil for the sake of it, she has a history that makes her that way, which I liked. She seems like a complex character and you see quite a few sides to her as the plot develops. Nik is also a complex character. He has to be the tough Pack Leader and have discipline and control, but he is also human and has flaws. There are no perfect characters which adds to the realism of the book cast. You want flawed characters as they are more interesting and it creates interesting conflicts. I like the kidnap scene going wrong, as it shows that even the best plans made by supernatural beings can be royally screwed up.
I liked that the author has done something different with the shifter genre as well, which isn't easy given their popularity. They aren't a bunch of sex mad monsters constantly howling at the moon, mating and fighting, they are people who are different. They talk, they work, they have fun, they show a whole range of emotions. The story flows smoothly though you must pay attention to the first few chapters as the flashbacks go back a full year and if you aren't paying attention, you might get confused. It is well written and when the tension starts building in the last third of the book, it really becomes absorbing. The whole arena scene was pretty nerve jangling as you didn't know what was going to happen next and I was quite upset about what happened to one of my favourites! I was also trying to think through who the traitor was and certain clues were given ie eye colour, that I might need to go back and look at again as I have two suspects in mind. My short term memory is not very good so I can't hold all the info to let me solve the puzzle!
Dialogue is obviously important to the author and a lot of seemingly innocent conversations or diary entries prove important later on so pay attention to detail. Readers who skim will miss the clues and it's fun to try and put the clues together even if you turn out to be wrong. There is also humour in the writing which I enjoy in a dark story.
The bad? Nothing that I would call bad to be honest. It does get off to a slower start than the action packed urban fantasy that I usually read so I was a bit worried that I might not get into it, but that didn't happen so that was good. The author approached me about reading the book, saying she thought I would enjoy it based on my book tastes and she showed good judgement there because I did enjoy it. Like I said it was different from my usual reads but in a good way and I will be interested in reading book 2 for sure. I would recommend this book to fans of dark fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and shifter stories.