I’m a huge fan of following characters throughout a book series, and there is something about continuing to witness a character’s life and development that’s part of the magic of books; it’s something we miss in standalone novels and movies. For this reason, I was extremely excited when I stumbled upon Stray by Rachel Vincent, the first novel in the Shifters series. I was even more excited when I saw that Kim Harrison (one of my all time favorite authors) is Rachel Vincent’s mentor.
Faythe Sanders is a female werecat, daughter of an Alpha, and a graduate student. All she wants is to live an independent life outside of her controlling parents and pride. Running from responsibility time and again, Faythe is known for her escape antics particularly from Marc, her somewhat betrothed. As one of the eight female werecats left in America, (Only female werecats can reproduce werecats) Faythe is a commodity in her male-dominated world, and she hates it. Things take a turn for the worse when someone starts abducting and killing female werecats. Faythe must risk everything including her freedom to save those she loves.
I really enjoyed this novel. There were a few things that bothered me, but overall it has amazing potential to be a good series. Faythe is a strong heroine who is extremely independent, almost annoyingly so, but she’s still trying to figure her life out so I’ll let it slide. The writing was easy to read and refreshingly real and vivid. There was a lot of action and I couldn’t put the book down. I had to see what happened!
However, there is one huge, elephant-sized flaw. Stray is an almost exact plot match to Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, except werecats instead of wolves. I really enjoyed Bitten (I should note that that series is the only one of Armstrong’s that I can stand.) and I enjoyed Stray, but the rare female wereanimal who runs away from home, her alpha father and the man she should really end up with, is excruciatingly similar. I was cringing in sympathy for Vincent. How does one get published with a replica of another recent series? However, the details and character personalities are different. With one exception, the character Marc in Stray is almost identical to Clay in Bitten. It’s the same jealous, head over heels, overprotective wereanimal who won’t give up on the girl they love no matter how much she hurts him or how long she leaves him. If I hadn’t read Bitten before Stray, it would have been amazing but the similarities were distracting, plus I kind of knew the ending. It was still a really good novel, though.
The differences were what made it so much fun to read. Jace, a friend of Faythe’s who wants to be more than a friend, brought a tantalizing taste of wickedness. There were some pretty steamy “almost” moments between them, and I loved how there was still depth in the relationship afterwards, emotions stirred and feelings were ignited and extinguished. I thoroughly enjoyed Jace as a character.
This novel was action-packed and a fun read. If you haven’t read Bitten by Kelly Armstrong, you’ll probably LOVE it. However, like I said it was a bit distracting since I’d previously read Bitten. I’ll continue to read the series and see where it goes. I’m excited to see how much different the series will grow to be from Armstrong’s original plot. I want to see the characters progress; I definitely want to see just as much action, and a little more of Jace wouldn’t hurt. 🙂