Review: Forbidden by Cathy Clamp
Published August 18th 2015 by Tor Books
Received review copy from the publisher
Forbidden is the first book in a brand new urban fantasy series called Luna Lake, which ties in with the Tale of the Sazi series. I had never read a book by Cathy Clamp before, so I went into Forbidden without any knowledge of its background story.
Claire is sent to Luna Lake by her alphas to investigate shifter children going missing. When she arrives in the little secluded town, she discovers there is more wrong than just a few runaways.
The start of Forbidden is rather rocky. You know that authors are advised to start in the action? This book does just that, and it falls into the trap of having too much going on without reference. I had no idea who I was looking at and why before things started to hit the fan. I experienced a disconnect between me and the characters, simply because I had no idea what they were talking about. I suspect that it would have been easier if I had read one of the other Sazi books before. Now, however, I was forced to get to know the characters, make sense of the world-building, and keep track of the action on top of that.
Forbidden straddles the line between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I think there is too much romance (and too much cheesy lust-at-first-sight) for it to be a proper urban fantasy, yet there is not enough of the urgency and focus for me to convincingly call it paranormal romance. The main pairing is between two wolf shifters, and the moment they meet, they do the whole wolf mating thing. My issue with this was that the first time the hero sees the heroine, she is half dead and not breathing. He gives her mouth-to-mouth and basically makes out with her while she is unconscious. This really did not sit well with me, and their budding romance did not work for me.
The reason I did still enjoy the book is the action/mystery part of the story. The inner workings of the town of Luna Lake slowly unfold, and the sense that there is something fundamentally wrong there was very well done. I loved reading about the corruption that runs through it. One ceveat: trigger warnings for abuse all over the place.
One of the nicest things about shifter books in my opinion is the familial bond that most shifters have with each other. Reading about groups of people who are close to each other is one of my favourite things – whether they’re friends or family. Forbidden features a large adoptive family, filled with contrasting characters and personalities, which I enjoyed getting to know.
Forbidden is a quick romantic shifter book, which is easy on the eyes and fast-paced. It has some problems (cliched insta-lust, wolves/owls that can speak while in animal form), but I enjoyed the slow unfolding of the mystery in a small-town setting.
Ten years have passed since the war that destroyed the Sazi Council and inflicted a horrible “cure” on thousands of Sazi, robbing them of their ability to shapeshift.
Luna Lake, isolated in Washington State, started as a refugee camp for Sazi orphans. Now it’s a small town and those refugees are young adults, chafing at the limits set by their still-fearful guardians.
There’s reason to fear: Sazi children are being kidnapped. Claire, a red wolf shifter, is sent to investigate. Held prisoner by the Snakes during childhood, Claire is distrusted by those who call Luna Lake home.
Before the war, Alek was part of a wolf pack in Chicago. In Luna Lake he was adopted by a parliament of Owls, defying Sazi tradition. The kidnappings are a painful reminder that his little sister disappeared a decade ago.
When Claire and Alek meet, sparks fly—but the desperate race to find the missing children forces them to set aside their mutual attraction and focus on the future of their people.
- Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan
- Monster in My Closet by R.L. Naquin
- Hounded by Kevin Hearne
- Dark Prince by Christine Feehan