Title: Kitty Goes to Washington
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Stand alone or Series: Book 2 in the Kitty Norville series
Summary: (from amazon.com)
Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen. So when she’s invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of supernaturals, and her face gets plastered on national TV, she inherits a new set of friends, and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city; an über-hot Brazilian were-jaguar; and a Bible-thumping senator who wants to expose Kitty as a monster. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone’s itching for a fight.
Why did I read this book: I recently read Kitty and the Midnight Hour and loved it. As such, I was excited to get my grubby paws on the next books in the series!
Kitty Norville is a radio talk show personality, a werewolf, and now, she’s an outcast. After the events at the end of book 1, Kitty finds herself without a pack, and constantly on the move. She hosts her (syndicated!) hit radio show, “The Midnight Hour”, from stations across the country. Things have just settled down, and Kitty has made up her mind to pay sunny Los Angeles a visit–but then she gets a phone call from her lawyer (on retainer, by the way). Kitty has been summoned as an expert witness at the Senate hearing concerning the existence of (and then what-are-we-gonna-do-about it) supernatural creatures. Since Kitty doesn’t have much choice in the matter, she packs up and heads to Washington D.C.
As soon as she drives in to DC proper, however, Kitty is stopped by some genuine Men In Black, who take one look at her ID and tell her that she needs to come with them. Turns out, the MIB actually are henchmen for the local Vampire of the City, Alette. As Mistress of the City, Alette extends her hospitality to Kitty and has her checked out of her hotel in exchange for a stay in Alette’s home. Which, naturally, has Kitty feeling a bit peeved and cornered, and she wants to know what’s up. Alette tells Kitty that the local lycanthropes have no Alpha and therefore are ungoverned and aggressive, and Alette is looking out for Kitty’s best interests–after all, Kitty’s testimony, as an actual scary creature of the night, will have a significant impact on the Senate hearing…and Alette wants to see what Kitty’s handle is (i.e. who is pulling Kitty’s strings). And to make sure that no one harms Kitty or prevents her from appearing at top shape for her testimony, Alette offers her home as sanctuary for the werewolf DJ. While Kitty appreciates Alette’s efforts, she also feels a lot like a teenager under the watch of a strict mommy (Alette wants to know where Kitty is all the time, and wants her escorted by her trusy MIB everywhere)…and we already know Kitty doesn’t do too well with authority.
Rebellious as ever, Kitty pulls her teenager-like curfew breaking shenanigans, befriends the local lycanthropes–who seem really cool and understanding–and even manages to squeeze in some lovin’ with a Brazillian werejaguar.
But, there are larger issues to deal with for Kitty. The hearing is highly sensationalized, with the Holy Rolling Senator Duke (who we briefly met in book 1) stirring up as much anti-paranormal creature sentiments as possible–going so far as pushing Kitty’s testimony to the day of the Full Moon, trying to aggravate her and getting her to Change in front of the hearing, live on CSPAN no less. Also present at the hearings is Dr. Paul Flemming (also met in book 1)–who has been running a paranormal research branch of the Centers for Disease Control, but has since seemed to turned to more military based funding (which is pretty nefarious in itself). Self-proclaimed prophet and paranormal ‘healer’, Elijah Smith also shows up to testify. And then there is the tabloid reporter that won’t leave Kitty alone, pestering her for an exclusive interview, and making sure her face is known–pretty much obliterating any remnants of anonymity Kitty may have had.
Between getting to the bottom of Elijah Smith’s bogus caravan, dealing with the politics of the courtroom, and trying to solve the mystery of government military experiments on paranormal creatures, Kitty has her hands full.
I really loved the first book–I felt that as a coming of age story, the werewolf metaphor worked brilliantly, and I found myself riveted and cheering for Kitty the whole way. While I don’t think it is possible to top that initial book (just because Kitty finding her voice and growing up is only really something that can be done once), Kitty Goes to Washington is still a solid, exciting read. Expanding on plot complications and picking up on characters and loose ends left in book 1, this installment feels more polished and plot-driven than its predecessor. The political ramifications of paranormal creatures being ‘outed’ is cool, and I like Ms. Vaughn’s decision to make it a first-hand experience with Kitty in the middle of the fray; it sets this book apart from other urban fantasy novels where inevitably these supernatural creatures have been ‘legalized’, but the actual politics of legalization aren’t examined.
Also, the introduction of new characters here was pretty cool. The Mistress Vampire Alette is a wonderful addition to Kitty’s universe. I loved that the head vampire of one of the most important cities is a female–but more than that, I loved the departure from nasty, power hungry eeevil (but always seductive) vampires in this role. Alette is strong, but fair–and the interactions between her and Kitty were wonderful (even if it did mimic a sort of mother-daughter type storyline). Also, the character Jeffrey Miles, as the professional psychic and chaneller (of daytime tv fame) is a great addition to the cast. The appearance of characters from the first book, and their continued involvement in the overall plot (i.e. Senator Duke, Dr. Flemming, Kitty’s trusty lawyer Ben, and bounty hunter/renegade Cormac) is nicely done.
Kitty herself is still growing as a character, and while I didn’t find her as endearing as she was in the first book (her narration is getting a bit more quippy), I still found myself cheering her on and applauding her resourcefulness (especially at the end of the novel). While this book isn’t without flaws–I wasn’t big on the hasty resolution to Eli’s faith healing storyline (but hopefully we’ll see more in later books)–I still found myself easily falling back into Kitty’s universe and urging her on. Kitty being on her own gives readers a glimpse of what she’s really made of, and hopefully she’ll only continue to grow in subsequent books. This was an enjoyable, well-paced read, and I’m excited to continue with the series!
Notable Quotes/Parts: As in the first book, Kitty’s on-air calls and responses are hilarious. Here’s one exchange that had me giggling:
“…But I have to wonder, if someone really believes that they were meant to be, you know, a different species entirely–like the way some men really believe they were meant to be women and then go through a sex change operation–don’t you think it’s reasonable that–” [said an anonymous caller]
“No. No it isn’t reasonable. Tell me, do you think that you were meant to be a different species entirely?” [said Kitty]
He gave a deep sigh, the kind that usually preceded a dark confession, the kind of thing that was a big draw for most of my audience.
“I have this recurring dream where I’m an alpaca.”
And then this quick conversation between Kitty and her lawyer about the upcoming hearing:
“You know who’s chairing this committee you’re testifying for?”
I didn’t. I’d been busy with the show, the chance to interview Flemming, and traveling. I had Ben to worry about the rest, right? “No.”
“You aren’t going to like it.”
How bad could it be? “Who is it?”
I groaned. Senator Joseph Duke was a witch-hunting reactionary. Literally. As in, in a world when such things were still mostly considered myth and fairy tale, Duke ardently believed in witches, vampires, werewolves, all of it, and felt it was his God-given duty to warn the world of their dangers…
“It could be worse,” I said hopefully.
“Yeah. You could be a communist werewolf.”
Additional Thoughts: As a bonus, this volume also includes an additional short story at the end of the novel, called “Kitty Meets the Band”. Earlier in the books, Kitty has a call from the band Plague of Locusts, who supposedly have a demon-possessed bassist, and in this short story, she has the band for an interview on the show, to get to the bottom of things.
Verdict: Highly enjoyable sequel. While it doesn’t quite have the magic or significance of the first book, this is still a very well written, highly engaging read. Definitely recommended, and I will be continuing the series!
Rating: 7 Very Good
Reading Next: Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt & Steal the Dragon by Patricia Briggs