Carrie Vaughn's first love was the short story, having published more than 50 in various Science Fiction and Fantasy publications over the years. Today she's best known for her Kitty Norville series, but KITTY'S GREATEST HITS represents Vaughn's considerable talents with shorter fiction. This is a compilation of mostly previously published works, and a few new pieces.
The majority of the stories are Urban Fantasy, but three, "A Princess of Spain," "The Book of Daniel," and "Conquistador de la Noche" all feel like historical fiction. "Princess" asks the question about Catharine of Aragon's marriage to the crown prince of England--the one who was sickly and died to pass the throne to his brother Henry--and his real cause of death. "Daniel" is an entertaining retelling of the traditional biblical story. If you're familiar with Rick from the Kitty Norville series, then "Conquistador" gives us a history of this mysterious vampire.
The rest of the shorts all take place in the Kitty Norville universe, but only four of them with Kitty as the PoV. "Il est Né" takes place on a lonely Christmas Eve while Kitty is at a diner and comes across a lone wolf who's been recently turned. As usual Kitty takes it upon herself to help out those in need, at no little danger to herself. "Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned" is a fluffy piece, almost feeling like it was written just for the flair of using the title. Still, it's entertaining in its own Kitty way. "Kitty's Zombie New Year" has much the same flavor, with Vaughn adding her own narrative to the current zombie fervor. "Winnowing the Herd" is a brief and amusing viewpoint of Kitty, taking place before KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR.
Non-Kitty stories include "Wild Ride," T.J.'s origin story, where Vaughn addresses metaphors regarding lycanthropy as disease and HIV and lycanthropy as identity. Then there are the erotic "The Temptation of Robin Green" and "Life is the Teacher" where human-paranormal romance burns pretty hot...but don't necessarily end well. "You're on the Air" feels like an amusing anecdote that being a vampire doesn't mean you completely escape the vagaries of the human existence.
The stories here that interested me most, however, are the ones about the fascinating Cormac, Kitty's hunter friend from the series. Since the series is from Kitty's PoV it is a rare treat to see things from another character's viewpoint. It includes the origin story "Looking After Family" where Cormac comes to live with his aunt and uncle, and cousin Ben (yes, that Ben). "God's Creatures" where we follow Cormac on a job with a twisty ending. But the pièce de résistance is "Long Time Waiting" where we finally learn about what happened to Cormac while he was in jail and where Amelia comes from.
All the shorts are told with Vaughn's straightforward storytelling, and despite their brevity she draws her characters with charm and individuality. This compilation will particularly interest Kitty Norville fans, but newcomers will still enjoy the stories and characters.
Recommended Age: 14+ (except for the two stories with sexual content, which would be 17+)
Language: A couple handfuls of the harsher stuff
Violence: Werewolves, vampires, and hunters means death and blood and gore, but it isn't gruesome
Sex: "The Temptation of Robin Green" and "Life is the Teacher" both have detailed scenes; the others have a mild reference or two
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KITTY'S GREATEST HITS