Nightshade follows our protagonist Calla Tor as she tries to figure out just where she stands in the dystopian society that her race, the Guardians, live in. As an alpha female, her life is all planned out for her: finish school, marry Ren and then lead the her pack. But life throws a spanner in the works in the form of Shay, a human boy who Calla is instantly drawn too. He brings with him a whole new light and shines it directly on all she has ever known about who she is and what her duty is. The Keepers are her masters, but it turns out that they may have been lying to her all along and now the enemy she is supposed to dispose of are after Shay and she doesn't know why.
There is no going back now, the question is will Calla make it out alive or is she going to lose everything because of this boy?
This book is a fast paced read that gets more and more exciting the further along you get. I found myself quite desperate to discover what Calla was going to do and what the consequences of it were going to be. It didn't take me long to finish this book at all, just under two days actually, which tells me that this is definitely a good read.
Calla is a character that I can get along with. She's a leader, strong and in charge and yet she doesn't get everything right and she can be a little clueless sometimes. Much like many girls I know. She is not a girly girl, she is a warrior but she doesn't kick up a huge, unnecessary fuss when she is made to behave as if she was a more dainty female. I like this, mainly because it seems more real and had she thrown a massive strop, it wouldn't have fit in with who she was supposed to be. I found myself feeling rather sorry for Calla throughout the book: her pack hierarchy is changing, she's being forced to marry a guy who she doesn't think she can love and the more pages turned the more she is put in situations by other people that seem to work against her. And yet while she does have a few cries (and I don't blame her) she doesn't give up fighting.
The other characters in the book do have separate personalities that shine through, some not as nice as others. Ren is the alpha male who the Keepers have assigned as Calla's mate. He is cheeky, flirty and cocky. He is our typical 'hot guy' in this story, however he has characteristics that make me like him. He is a good leader and he cares for his pack and even though Calla doesn't believe it, it doesn't take long for the reader to realise that he actually cares for her too. Some of his reactions are over the top but a part of me can understand why.
For me, Shay comes across a little selfish sometimes and he confuses me a lot more so than the other characters. I don't hate him, but I don't care much about him either, mainly because I feel like I don't really know him at all. A few times during reading this book I did wonder why Ren wasn't doing it for Calla and yet Shay was, in her situation I probably would have been more interested in the former male.
Some of the other pack members are likable however there are two that I'm not a fan of and I feel that Cremer may have made them the way she did just to add extra drama, but it isn't needed. There is enough of that going on with the Calla/Shay predicament and the Keeper/Searcher revelations. The relationships that develop in the pack were quite predictable, which was one thing that had me rolling my eyes, but these aren't major aspects of the story so I can deal with that.
I was very impressed with the way Cremer wrote this novel. Calla's voice comes through so strong. The chapters can be lengthy, but the contents is fast flowing, fresh and the descriptions wildly vivid that before you know it you're on the next chapter and then the one after that. Cremer explains the ins and outs of how the Guardians and their rules work through Calla incredibly well and leaves me wondering, while dampening down my own jealousy, how she came up with it. The plot is strong and believable, which thankfully means that I'm not spending a large amount of time trying to figure out just how things add up.
Now, while 98% of this book is pretty good, the ending leaves me unsatisfied. This is, of course, because the ending is a fake, a sham of a closure since it doesn't actually end at all. We're left with a cliffhanger that sets up for the second novel Wolfsbane. While I would have happily read another book by Cremer on the premise of her writing talent alone, I do wish that I had been left with warm, fuzzy butterflies of excitement and happiness in my stomach instead of the disappointment of an unhappy ending. But, alas, I'll just have to read on for that.
Overall, definitely a book that I recommend for you guys to read if you haven't already. If you enjoy a paranormal story with a lot of plot and a little romance thrown in, this one is for you!
Books 4 Brains Rating:
Coming up: Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J R Ward