Book review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade...forget the pretty, flowering shrub and think of the more deadly variety.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 14th January 2011, 6:00 am

Cremer’s sizzling and sexy young adult novel is a kind of Romeo and Juliet romance dressed up in wolf’s clothing - werewolf’s to be precise.

A mesmerising and highly imaginative tale of alpha heroes, forbidden love and a mysterious paranormal world, Nightshade has all the heady scent of overactive hormones and youthful passion as well as liberal helping of supernatural thrills.

Werewolf stories are fast becoming the number one fashion in the reading world and Cremer is bang on target in this tense and powerful debut novel which reels in her readers like fresh bait on a fisherman’s rod.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

She creates a strange and yet, in some aspects, familiar world where humans play second fiddle to werewolves who are in turn separated into rival packs – Nightshades and Banes.

This society has its own complex werewolf hierarchy and top of the pecking order are the Guardians and Keepers whose job it is to keep the wolves in check, protect their territory and ensure the continuation of the lines.

And there’s a big event on the horizon – the ‘union’ of Calla Tor of the Nightshades and Ren Laroche of the Banes.

Alpha female Calla has always known that her destiny was to be the mate of alpha wolf Ren. In human form, Calla is a cool blonde beauty and Ren a predatory and flirtatious young male, and side by side they will fight their enemies, run a combined pack and guard sacred sites for the Keepers.

In the meantime, the two pack leaders are finishing off their education at the upmarket Mountain School where the humans have learned to keep their distance from the scary werewolves.

But things are very different when good-looking human Shay Doran joins the class. Far from maintaining a low profile, the new boy is showing an extraordinary and, some would say, reckless interest in Calla.

What they don’t know is that during a routine patrol of Nightshade land, Calla saved Shay’s life by allowing him to drink her blood after an attack by a ferocious bear.

Not only did Calla violate the strict Keeper’s Laws; she also fell in love with Shay, with his brown hair and its golden lights, with his otherness and his subtle and tempting scent of hope and possibility.

As the attraction between the two grows, Calla starts to have feelings she’s never before experienced and the belief grows that her fate might not necessarily lie with the wildly attractive but ruthless Ren.

However, things are not what they appear to be and Calla will have to make difficult and dangerous decisions...not least whether it’s worth sacrificing her life for the love of a boy.

Cremer provides some sensational twists and turns in this simmering, shimmering supernatural thriller – compulsive reading for both teens and adults.

(Atom, paperback, £11.99)