Calla Tor isn't a typical teenager. Instead of worrying about boys and where she's going to go to college, she worries about how fierce of a warrior she is to protect the Keepers, who are powerful spellcasters, she is sworn to protect. She's the Alpha of the Nightshade pack of Guardians, warriors that have the ability to turn into wolves. They protect and serve the Keepers and in return get all the things they need to live. Calla is satisfied with her life, even though it's all planned out. On Halloween, she is destined to marry Renier, Alpha of the rival Bane pack in order to merge both packs, whether she actually likes him or not. Everything was going on track until she saved a human boy from a bear attack. That same human boy, Shay, starts to go to her school recently after the incident. She feels a connection with him and starts to have doubts about her completely planned out future. Will Calla choose to follow the destiny that has been decided for her and marry Renier or will she blaze a new trail and choose Shane?
Nightshade is an interesting twist on werewolves. Their transformation is possible through magic and the pack answers to a higher authority than the Alpha. Unfortunately, I really dislike werewolf packs and their politics. The added tier of authority only compounds what I already hate about the situation. No one in the pack really has any power. The Keepers decide everything, including which pack members can be romantically involved and who they want to sexually assault. The Guardians are just glorified slaves and the Keepers are known to abuse their powers over them. Within the pack, even Calla, the most powerful female figure, has pretty much no power, which is typical. Renier overrules her in every way. He could have been a really great character, but he is reduced to using physical violence and passive aggressive tactics to make Calla feel inferior. I just really did not like him at all by the end of the book. I do realize that this situation isn't portrayed in a positive light and is used to create a sort of miniature fantasy based dystopia, but I don't like these sort of werewolf politics.
There are quite a few things that I enjoyed about the novel. Calla is a compelling protagonist and a strong female character. I was less than impressed when she practically fell apart every time one of the boys was around, but I guess it's understandable with her being a teenager and in an oppressive society. Other than that, she proved herself to be a strong warrior and I liked seeing her world through her eyes. The narrative flowed really well for the most part and I finished the book in just a couple of days. The ending was really good because it made Calla question the actions she had taken and made me really interested to see what was going to happen next. I will definitely read the next in the series.
My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins