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The premise of Silver Kiss is straightforward. When being different causes us to leave, can we ever go home again?
Werewolf Ayla Hammond has moved back to her home town along with her partner Shannon, a human private investigator. Ayla wishes to return to her Pack after having run away years ago due to a falling out with her parents over her being a lesbian.
Early on we are introduced to a new “herbal” cigarette that everyone seems to be smoking, called Silver Kiss. It quickly becomes a focal point as Ayla realizes that it has a very different effect on werewolves than it does humans. Ayla also suspects that Silver Kiss might have something to do with Shannon’s new case—that of a missing young girl.
Through out the narrative Ayla tries to navigate the politics of her Pack while searching for a way to reconnect with parents whom she felt denied her sexual identity when understanding was needed most. She feels apart even from Shannon who accepts her wholly, yet as a human, can never fully understand Ayla’s inner struggle with her bestial nature. It all comes to a head when Ayla and Shannon learn just what the young werewolves are being forced to do in order to get their next Silver Kiss. I certainly won’t spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that these teens aren’t your Twilight werewolves.
Where many other pieces of werewolf fiction fail, Clark delivers. Her werewolf pack comes across as both natural and believable in a world where weres coexist openly with humans. Her human-were community is akin to a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business.
While not significant to the plot, Clark inserts several details that bring realism to the fantastical. I particularly enjoyed the corner changing booths strewn about the city specifically for werewolves to shed their clothes and take on their wolf form, or the mentions of onlookers who snap pictures of the transformed wolves with camera phones to post on werewolf spotting websites.
Clark’s description of what it’s like to be a transformed wolf wandering about the city streets and parks captivated me. Both detailed and colourful, I quickly found myself wanting to be a part of this world running along side Ayla and her friends.
The book’s length – 218 pages – could detract for those looking for a lengthier read. Clark’s choice to edit out unnecessary subplots allows steady pacing of a story that might not have worked as well otherwise and recalls Richard Matheson’s “nothing wasted” approach to writing.
Naomi Clark’s Silver Kiss both entertained and took me to a world that I would gladly visit again. I salute her writing efforts, as quality lesbian urban fantasy books are not easy to come by.
By Naomi Clark
Paperback, $14.99, 218p