Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery/Romance
“Shifters across Alaska are going missing. When up and coming interior designer Ametta Dorn rescues the gorgeous Kodiak shifter Lucky Osberg, she comes into the crosshairs of two relentless hunters. While Lucky sets his sights on wooing her, the killers seek to not only capture her in her powerful polar bear form but to also take her skin.
To prevent her murder and the deaths of other shifters, she must work with Lucky to track down and stop these merciless hunters. After all, their enemy’s plan for shifter skins is something much more terrifying than collecting mere trophies.”
“Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not reading or writing, she's going on adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of S.C.I.F.I. and Untethered Realms. She has one novel and several novellas and short stories published.”
I have read and reviewed several of Christine Rains’ novellas and I enjoy the way she writes. Dark Dawning is set in Alaska and grabbed my interest right away with its Inuit mythology. I have a weakness for Native American stories. However, I can’t recall having read any stories about polar bear shifters before. I dove in head first and devoured the novella enjoying the story till the end. Then my mind started to question some of the events, like how did that happen? Was a certain ritual being performed that wasn’t mentioned? And where was Saskia this whole time? We know she was out hunting the hunters, but why did she not find a way to communicate with her family after a certain length of time? Was she that egotistical and inconsiderate all the time?
Sorry, I guess I jumped ahead of myself here. Saskia, Kinley, and Ametta Dorn work together in a custom home building/design/renovation business in rural Alaska. They are polar bear shifters and this story centers on Ametta, the youngest of the three sisters. Her expertise is in design and her dream is to move from Alaska and set up her own design firm in a large metropolis far from Alaska. This has become a source of contention within the family recently.
When Ametta rescues an injured Kodiak bear who is being hunted by an elite set of hunters the mystery begins. It seems that she and gorgeous Kodiak shifter Lucky Osberg are on their own to figure out who, what, and why. Ametta is head-strong, intuitive, and impulsive. It seems like she can be her own worst enemy at times. Ametta meeting Lucky has the potential of throwing a huge wrench into her future plans. The sexual tension between them is palatable and intriguing.
The action is fast and furious and I became totally engrossed. The twists in the story kept me off balance, which caused the questions above. I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out some of the answers. The rest I’m hoping will be answered in the following novellas. Characters are developed in differing amounts, depending on their importance. Saskia and Kinley are introduced with key personality traits and I suspect they will become more fully rounded as the series continues. I am anxious to learn more about the Black Shamans, the ancient police of the shifters. Saskia’s association with them is briefly touched on when they were brought into the mystery. The plot quest comes to light at the end of this story, which includes some mystical properties. So while one story arc is completed there is much more to come as the hunt continues.
Bottom line, I found this novella compelling but was left wanting. This is a common problem with novellas for me. I think this may be a promising new urban fantasy series with some original elements.
Dark Dawning is book one in the Totem series, of which there are six completed so far.
No significant issues in proofing or formatting.
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words