Book Description: Kita Nekai, on the run and the smallest of her shifter clan—a calico cat among lions and tigers—is being hunted. She was expected to accept her role as her father’s successor whether or not her cat was up to the task of leading the clan. She disagreed. Now she’s less than a step ahead of the hunters, bone-tired, cold, and living hand-to-mouth in the city of Haven. And that’s the high point of her day. She’s also drugged, “accidently” turned into a vampire, and sentenced to death for recklessly creating a rogue shifter who tortures its human prey. She’s got seventy-two hours to find the rogue, evade a city full of hunters, prove she’s not responsible for the rogue, and keep the vampire council from killing her. All while sorting out an apprentice mage, a married ex-boyfriend shifter-hunter, and the vampire who made her.
A Dhampir is a half vampire/half human, but what do you call a half vampire/half were? Well, if your Kaylana Price, you call her Kita, or as the men in her life call her, Kitten. Kita is a Shifter who can turn into a cat. Thinking herself and her alter ego calico too weak to take over for her father as the leader of the other Shifters of Firth, Kita escapes to the human world city of Haven and goes on the run from Hunters who would return her home. After a slow start, the story picks up when Kita eventually runs into her ex-boyfriend/Hunter Bobby, accidentally gets turned into a Vampire by the Hermit Nathaniel, and becomes the research subject for a student Mage named Gil. This motley crew then gets recruited by a Judge who threatens to turn Kita and her friends over to a bunch of demons if they don’t track down a rogue Shifter/rapist (who Kita may have a connection to) within 48 hours. Sound confusing? Well it is. Not in the sense that you won’t understand what is happening, but you won’t know why because the world building of Once Bitten is never fully built.
This lack of world building wasn’t as frustrating early on when we first meet Kita and learn that she can turn into a cat etc. because we expect all the details of her world to be explained later. And while some things are explained, like Kita’s history with Bobby, others like the world Kita comes from, never are. Is Firth a magically hidden world? Is it an alternate dimension? What about Haven? Is that a city on Earth or some other planet? Then there are the vampire, demon, and mages. Do they all come from the same world? What are their rules? We get a glimpse of the Vampire society towards the end of Once Bitten, (and it’s something of a cross between Kim Harrison’s vamps and the Volturi from Twilight) but it is all too brief and ends up raising more questions then it answers.
Kita herself is an interesting character and the conflict she felt over the romantic feelings she still harbored for her mated (married) ex along with the burgeoning feelings she was developing for Nathaniel were realistically portrayed and easily the most compelling aspects of Once Bitten. But the handful of other characters were fairly one dimensional. Gil, for example, was supposed to be the eager, goofy sidekick who I constantly forgot about the moment she left the page. I still don’t remember why she showed up in the first place (and I read the book today) and the reason she stuck around was pretty flimsy.
Normally it can be a good thing when a book leaves you asking questions because then you are motivated to pick up the next book. Not this time. I stopped being curious about this Kitten long before I reached the end of Once Bitten. I still have a lot of questions, but I have very little motivation to seek out the answers in future Haven novels.
Sexual Content: Character’s pass through a vampire sex club, but nothing is graphically described. References to a rapist.
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (January 9, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0980245397
- ISBN-13: 978-0980245394
Disclosure: I received this book for review courtesy of Bell Bridge Books