Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn – Review

Book Jacket:

Vampires. Werewolves. Talk Radio.

Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station and a werewolf in the closet. Sick of lame song requests, she accidentally starts “The Midnight Hour,” a late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged.

After desperate vampires, werewolves, and witches across the country begin calling in to share their woes, her new show is a raging success. But it’s Kitty who can use some help. With one sexy werewolf-hunter and a few homicidal undead on her tail, Kitty may have bitten off more than she can chew…

You can read an excerpt here.


This is a  smart, interesting and well-executed story – but on a purely subjective level, I didn’t enjoy reading it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of this series (I’ve read all eight books) and there is a lot to like here – Kitty is a fun lead, and her radio show is a clever entry into the world of the supernatural. The plot, the characterizations, the set-up – all are good. What it comes down to, for me, it that most of this story has Kitty entirely subjugated to the abusive alpha of her werewolf pack and I didn’t enjoy her helplessness.

As Kitty and the Midnight Hour is essentially the story of Kitty reclaiming her life, I understand the mechanics behind Kitty starting at rock bottom – she has to, for her recovery to be meaningful and real. This story opens with Kitty literally trapped in an abusive relationship, as her wolf half needs a pack, but being part of the pack means being under the thumb of her pack alpha, Carl. Vaughn does a good job of explaining the werewolf psychology that is the basis for this dynamic, but it still means Kitty spends most of this book with her tail between her legs, both literally and figuratively.

Sidebar – having recently read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, I’ve noticed that people tend to have one of two reactions to Larsson’s book: either they are outraged by the brutality against women and hate it, or they see Lisbeth Salander as a feminist icon, because Lisbeth never sees herself as a victim and always fights back (which is why Larsson’s books are hugely popular with women in the Middle East). Obviously Kitty and the Midnight Hour is nowhere near as dark or disturbing as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but strangely enough I think this story can cause a similar duality in reactions – either you’re going to be so bothered by Kitty’s internalization of helplessness that it’s going to shadow the rest of the book, or you’re going to see it as just a part of Kitty’s journey towards taking control of her life.

Honestly, I think my unease with this story all boils down to the fact that Kitty doesn’t fight back. That’s not to say Kitty is a passive character – she does manage to carve out a small corner of her life that is hers and hers alone (her radio career), and when Carl threatens to take away that small island of sanity, it ultimately pushes Kitty to turn a corner. The radio show becomes the one thing Kitty won’t give up, and things rapidly spiral out of control from there. I should also point out that Kitty is definitely not a weakling – she is able and willing to fight for her survival in several life threatening situations. It’s just when it comes to Carl, she never really stands up to him. Circumstances force a final confrontation, and in the end it’s really T.J. who frees Kitty, not Kitty herself. I feel like there needed to be one more moment, a moment where Kitty truly defied Carl once and for all. (Happily that moment does come along later in the series.) Instead it felt like a row of dominos, started off by Kitty’s radio show. You can argue that she started the chain in motion, but she didn’t know how it was all going to fall down, and in a way it seems like she’s helpless in the face of forces beyond her control. She is always reacting instead of acting.

Despite all that, I still appreciate this book – I was rooting for Kitty throughout the entire story (who doesn’t like a werewolf named Kitty?) She is a wonderfully human character, vulnerable and stubborn, with a fun sense of humor. Overall Vaughn has a nice touch for character work, and even the secondary characters, such as the radio staff and less important werewolves, come through distinctly.

I completely love the radio show aspect of this story (and the series) – the topics are always clever and amusing, and it really defines Kitty in a unique way, as she has to live up to the advice she gives out. And while the supernatural denizens of these books are familiar (vampires, werewolves, etc), Vaughn does interesting things with the politics of power among the different factions.

There is a lot to like about Kitty and the Midnight Hour – plenty of action, just a touch of mystery, and a well paced, engrossing story. It was only Kitty’s helplessness that prevented me from really enjoying this book, but from book two on it’s no longer an issue. Hopefully you won’t have a problem with this book, but if you do, I really encourage you to stick it out and keep going because this series is a lot of fun, and worth the effort. Kitty and the Midnight Hour is a necessary step – it sets up a lot of interesting depth to Kitty’s character and unleashes her on the world, and without it this series wouldn’t be the same. So if you’re a Patricia Briggs fan looking for another werewolf series to enjoy, definitely check this one out.

Byrt Grade: A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

The Book Smugglers say:

Coming of age type stories are a dime a dozen–but I have to say, Kitty and the Midnight Hour is one of the best I have read in a long while. The twist, of Kitty actually being a mature adult but a cub by wolf standards is ingenious, and it works beautifully. The blend of Urban Fantasy here, with the werewolf pack dynamics and radio show as a metaphor for Kitty’s self-discovery is incredibly clever. I loved it.

Monsters and Critics says:

Looking for a slightly different take on the whole werewolf/vampire genre? Well look no further; this is an entertaining read with a twist. I picked this little gem up when I needed a break from a couple of slow reads and it didn’t disappoint. There’s plenty of action with just enough fresh attitude to hold your attention to the end.

Debbie’s World of Books says:

It took me awhile to get into this book and I was a little worried especially since I also have 4 or 5 more books of this series.  Luckily about halfway through I started getting into the groove.  My initial turn off was Kitty seemed so spineless and I didn’t care for her submissive behavior towards Carl. Yes, I know that is wolf pack behavior but it still rubbed me the wrong way.