February 5, 2012
Frayed (Madison Lark #1)
by Blakely Chorpenning
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: December 16th, 2011
Fray loves being a semi-pro fighter and free spirit. However, when a deadly faction begins abducting supernatural teens in the Blue Hills of North Carolina for excruciating experiments, she quickly learns there is more to life than glitzy opponents and late night trysts. Fray and a crew of unlikely allies must rescue the children before they are dissected alive. Being a leopard shapeshifter helps. Confronting personal prejudice and traversing feelings for a tempestuous ex do not mix. But Fray is willing to go all the way to stop her world from changing. That is, until the ultimate sacrifice forces her to realize just how overdue change is. Her most shocking discovery: Everyone's human. At least a little...
I admit I am a big fan of novellas. It’s incredibly difficult to create a good backstory, develop characters and establish an interesting plot in such a limited amount of pages. A lot of authors will end up overwhelming readers with too much detail or underwhelming them with too few. It’s hard to get the balance just right. I think it’s a true test of an author’s skill to communicate all we need to know and successfully deliver a story that resonates with us.
Blakely Chorpenning is one of those skilled authors. What I liked about this novella is her ability to interlace an interesting plot with such a strong social message that people can change and overcome prejudice when needed.
So about the story…
Within the world of shifters - leopards, lions and wolves - there has never been any unity or closeness. In fact, there is a predominant intolerance to every community outside your own. However, when young shifters from each lepe, pride and pack start disappearing, prejudices no longer seem important.
Fray is a leopard shifter whose life is pretty easy and all about fun and good times. Asked to help search for the missing young, Fray must work with other supernaturals and find a way to forego her deeply rooted prejudice.
With the help of Nash (a vampire Private Investigator hired to help with the investigation), they discover who the kidnappers are and why it is they came to their particular town.
The Dissenters are a group of deranged men whose roots stem from Puritan rebels during the days of the Salem Witch Trials. They want to find a cure for what they consider the ‘inner beast’, and are willing to go to any lengths to find it. Even if it means the cruel mutilation of young shifters. Before a supernatural shifts for the first time is when they are at their weakest, so the Dissenters target the young.
Madison Lark (aka Fray) is a multi-faceted character. She’s tough, sarcastic, witty, not easily intimidated, but at the same time she’s warmhearted, compassionate and sympathetic. Despite her brother’s attempts at convincing her to change her ways, she’s sure that her life is all about being a fighter. So far Fray hasn’t found anything she’d rather do or anything that’s more important. She understands that the lepe needs to be protected at all costs; however, that has nothing to do with her plans for life.
After working closely with other supernaturals and witnessing their struggles, emotion and grief, she realizes that they all have some very human emotions – even the vampires. This comes as quite a shock to her as it goes against every preconceived notion she’s ever had.
The way that Fray dealt with the entire crisis showed significant leadership potential. And people took notice.
Fray’s ex-boyfriend, Blaire, is the son of the currently very ill lepe leader. Blaire is acting as leader now however is having trouble gaining the support of the rest of the lepe. Despite the “ex” status, its obvious that there is still strong feelings and passion between the two. Blaire is sexy and gorgeous but the reasons they parted are still there and Fray shows incredible strength with keeping him at arm’s length. Goddess love her because I don’t think I could be that strong given Chorpenning’s description of him!
Nash is a private investigator hired to work with Fray to investigate the disappearances. He also happens to be a vampire. If Fray is prejudiced against other shifters, she is doubly so against vampires. For the most part, he’s patient and they come to an understanding in order to work together. At least until her suspicions go too far. We didn’t find out too much about Nash in this first novel but I hope to see much more of him in the future. I think his story will be an interesting one.
There were some other memorable characters that we got to hear about. Fray’s 5 roommates are quite a handful and obviously love Fray very much. Shane is a shadowshifter (ghost-like being that blends into the shadows and isn’t seen unless it wants to be seen). I hope to see more of him. Rush (the mysterious survivor of a Dissenter capture) and Lucy (Nash’s ex). And yes all these were introduced in this novella in a most proficient of ways.
In my opinion, this novella was a great introduction to the Madison Lark series. If Ms. Chorpenning can achieve what she has in a novella, I sure am eager to see what she can do with a full-length novel. I hear that Book #2 is due out this summer. Can’t wait!!
4 Bad Boys – Really Enjoyed It!!!!