September 14, 2013

The Night Has Claws (The Magdeburg Trilogy, Book Two)

by Kat Kruger
Fierce Ink Press
978-0-9917937-5-4 (pb)
978-1-927746-02-8 (ebook)
269 pp.
Ages 14+
Release September 24, 2013
Reviewed from advance release ebook

When Kat Kruger ended her award-winning first book in The Madgeburg Trilogy, The Night Has Teeth (reviewed here on January 13, 2013), it was bloody mayhem.  Really.  Seventeen-year-old Connor Lewis had learned that he is a pure werewolf whose "nature" was only revealed after born-werewolf Amara had accidentally bitten him.  His special nature had drawn the attention of Henri Boguet, one of the bitten "monsters", whose biotech company has developed an antivenin for werewolf bites as well as a cure he calls Wolf Bane.  And Connor's school friends, Madison and Josh, had revealed that Josh had bitten Madison, condemning her to a life as a monster too. Even though Josh is still in love with Madison and desperate to make things up to her, Madison and Connor have an affinity for each other. With the nature of one's werewolfness determining the allegiances one has, Connor is confused understandably about whom to trust.

The Night Has Claws begins with three different story lines which will ultimately converge.  First, with Boguet being captured, he is remanded to custody to stand trial before the High Court of Madgeburg, the werewolf court.  Secondly, Madison who has shot Boadicea, Boguet's associate, believing she was going to harm Connor, focuses on what she has done, what is on the USB stick Boadicea tried to give Connor, and how she feels about Connor and Josh.  Lastly, born-werewolf Arden, Amara's mate, who'd appeared to die by Boguet's hand (teeth, actually), had been buried along with Boadicea by the Hounds of God (a society of the bitten).  But Arden had not died, though he desperately wished he had, becoming human instead, getting Boguet's cure through his venom. 

So we've got Connor sticking close to Arden and helping him survive as a human while learning from Arden how to live as a werewolf.  But through it all, Connor must decide to whom he will ally himself:  Roul (Rodolfus de Aquila), leader of Arden's former pack, or the Hounds of God to which Josh and Madison belong. 

In Quedlinburg, Germany, where the High Court of Madgeburg officiates, all gather for the prosecution of Boguet by Heaven's Hand, the organization that governs werewolves.  In addition to Connor, Roul, Arden, Amara, Madison, and Josh and their related groups, the Luparii (marked by white armbands) who act as an intergovernmental European task force to limit and maintain control of the werewolf populations show a strong presence.  On the surface, the court and Heaven's Hand profess to protect all life with the singular law of condemning to death any who bites a human but, as with many organizations in which individuals carry their own emotional baggage and opinions, hypocrisy creates exceptions and thus friction.  While Boguet may be the official defendant, Connor and Arden become targets for the judge, Breber. While Madison may come to their aid with surprisingly revelations about Boguet, instead of quelling both judicial and physical attacks, her news launches a new barrage hitherto unknown.

Hold onto your book or device because The Night Has Claws may start with the emotional and physical clean-up of story-lines from The Night Has Teeth but it ends on an even messier closing. I don't mean messier as in confused but rather in terms of catastrophic ruin.  It breaks apart with secrets revealed, relationships and alliances exposed and shattered, and upcoming hostilities and combat forecast. The reader may still be hopeful for reconciliation between Connor and Madison and Arden and Amara but surprisingly Kat Kruger has you cheering for the motley band of protagonists and even laughing along at times. (Honestly, how often can a writer use the admonishment "Bite me" as a double entendre?) And there's even more action, surprises and affairs of the heart coming because we know that where The Night Has Claws leaves off, Book Three will launch and continue to thrill.

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