Saturday, February 21, 2009

Review – “Once Bitten” by Kalayna Price

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.
Once Bitten the debut urban fantasy novel by Kalayna Price is part of the new fantasy/paranormal line-up at Belle Bridge Books. With Once Bitten, Price treats us to some interesting world-building, populating her universe with weres, vampires and mages, but with some original twists. Set in the city of Haven one is reminded of the similarly dark and gritty Gotham. Weres appear to live in a separate dimension/reality called Firth and those weres in the city are either in hiding or the Hunters seeking the fugitives. Vampires are prevalent and the mages secretive with seeming oversight of the supernatural communities.

Once Bitten follows the travails of Kita, a werecat who has escaped her world for a life of exile in Haven, living off the streets and even sometimes as a housepet.. Having been hiding successfully for years, Kita is suddenly exposed and being tracked by the werewolf Hunters who want to return her to her father and clans care. Kita is rescued during a confrontation with a fugitive were by the mysterious Nathanial, a vampire known as The Hermit. In saving her life, Nathanial also turns Kita into a vampire making her unique – a vampire that is also a were.

Kita’s troubles are only just beginning though, as a Mage Magistrate appears to deliver a death sentence on Kita for supposedly creating the rogue were responsible for a long string of serial murders. The intervention of Nathanial and her ex-boyfriend werewolf results in a compromise that gives Kita three days to find and deliver the rogue killer, otherwise she’s toast. Together with her new companions and a student mage assigned to her, they frantically set about apprehending the rogue.

With the clock ticking, Once Bitten delivers an entertaining series of exploits through Haven’s seamy underworld evading both the clutches of the vampires and were Hunters while investigating the victims for clues to the killer. Kita’s character is a nicely complex, exhibiting a blend of vulnerabilities and strengths. Watching her learn and adapt to her new circumstances provides some of the best moment in the story. Nathanial remains mostly mysterious, her boyfriend stalwart and the mage provides welcome moments of naiveté and curious enthusiasm.

Many of the world-building elements such as the nature of the vampire council, Firth and the society of the mages and Nathanial's backstory are deliberately left enigmatic to pique our curiosity and look forward to exploring the possibilities in future tales. Refreshingly, Once Bitten wraps up without the usual ubiquitous series cliff-hanger and ends on a positive note. Once Bitten is a solid urban fantasy debut with enough original ideas and twists to satisfy readers looking for something different and fresh. Kalayna Price is currently working on the next book in the Haven series.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Kalayna Price Website

Belle Bridge Books
Published: January 2009
ISBN #: 9780980245394
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 272

Read an excerpt.

The Haven Series:

  1. Once Bitten (January 2008)
  2. Untitled (TBD)

View the book trailer.


  1. Sounds interesting. I love the idea that Kita is a calico instead of a big cat. The fact that she becomes a vampire intrigues me. I wonder how that worked out with her were-blood. The trailer was pretty cool. A little long, but I liked the end..."Meow.Purr.Die.Repeat" It was cute. I'll definitely look into this one.

  2. This sounds neat! Werecats (big and little) aren't too common in urban fantasy but it's an interesting concept!

  3. Hi Mishel. Yes the attraction of Kita's character is that she isn't the baddest cat in town having to survive on other skills. The vampire/were thing should prove to be quite interesting.

    Thanks Mo!

    Ladytink The only other I can think of is Rachel Vincent when it comes to werecats.


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