1 Book 2 Reviews: Nightshade

Andrea Cremer
YA fantasy
452 pages
Nightshade Series #1
Philomel/Penguin Teen Usa

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?

Jess' Review:
I'm not a big reader of YA fiction.  Usually the storyline and the struggles come off, for lack of a better word, juvenile.  Therefore, my attention span during the books wane slightly.  But Cremer's inventive take on a theme as common as "coming-of-age" was much more grown-up than I expected and kept me interested throughout.

Calla's struggle with herself, was one of my favorite parts of story to watch unfold. Calla and the rest of her pack have grown up living their lives according to the rules they're told to live by, by their "Keepers" {masters}.  No questioning. Things are merely the way things are; everything is quite arranged.... including Calla's marriage.  And who in life doesn't sometimes feel as though they're moving through life the way their suppose to; the way they're excepted to?  To make Calla brave enough to question the answers that have always been provided to her was a step in the right direction in YA literature, in my opinion. A mature theme such as this is easy to relate to, young or old not young.

The other thing that surprised me was my feelings about the ever-present love triangle between Calla, Shay, and Ren.  I always know who to root for, I always know who's "Team" I'm on.  Not the case here.  Shay makes her question herself; helps her open her eyes and her heart.  But Ren is much more complex than the alpha male stereotype that he's suppose to be.  Most of the time a triangle is boring for me due to the fact that there's never a question in my mind as to the heroine's final decision but Cremer's complex characters kept my emotions always guessing. {I still don't have a side}

The world-building wasn't as rich as what I like, but the interesting cast of characters made up for it, mostly. The plot moved along quickly enough after I figured out what was happening, which was a bit of a struggle to pull out of the story.  Some of the terms and character relationships were a bit more of a mystery than I thought they should have been in the beginning, but everything smoothed out enough not to really irk me.  And I really enjoyed that the plot was much more about our characters than about a new villain in town or a mystery that needed to be solved.  I'm really looking forward to more answers from the series, so I'll be eagerly anticipating Wolfsbane's release.

Bottom Line for me: An interesting new take on the world of werewolves from a YA perspective... that didn't feel "youth" to me at all.  
3.5 stars

Kristin's Review:
Calla Tor, 17,  is a Alpha werewolf. She is also a Guardian, although at the beginning of Nightshade, we’re not quite sure what that means. That’s ok though, because it all becomes clear before the end.  Well…mostly. Nightshade opens with a bang when Calla rescues handsome Shay from a bear attack during her patrol and heals his wounds with her blood. This book was tons of fun and I really enjoyed the hierarchy and history of the shifters created by Ms. Cremer. Guardians are watched over by the Keepers, and Calla has never questioned her loyalty to them until now. After all, they provide materially for her and her pack plus provide for her future. Even her arranged betrothal to Ren (an Alpha hottie) has always been set for her. 

I also appreciated the rather unique take on shapeshifting (revealing any details would spoil the fun). There was a bit of teen angst and the ubiquitous love triangle, however it was really well done here.  She had a tough choice between the two boys, human (read forbidden) Shay and fellow shifter/bad boy Ren, and there was some admittedly delicious romantic longing between these three.

Nightshade is a wonderful story, spotlighting Calla’s discovery that all in her insular world is not all that it seems, and makes her question everything she’s been led to believe. The plot is not simplistic and really can’t be summed up in a short review. This is a big ‘ol hunk a’ book, but I blew through it because it was just that much fun! It reminded me of adult urban fantasy, minus the sex scenes and language, and the fact that the main characters were teens. 

I’ll look forward to learning more about the Keepers, the Guardians, and the mysterious Searchers in the next novel. 4 stars out of 5 for me!


  1. I do like two points of views regarding this book, sounds goo to me :) but enough for me to buy..eh, that I do not know

  2. Blodeuedd: If you enter my holiday giveaway (today's post) you could try and win it... then you wouldn't have to buy it ;)

  3. Lol, that is an idea, though I realllly want this other book more. It is all I can think about. But hey my bday is on 2 months so I can wait for Calla ;)

    Must hop on over to the contest part