Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Posted March 18, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 102 Comments

Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #1
Published by Roc
Published on: July 7 2009
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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First in a brand new series from the author of the rogue mage novels

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she's been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie's Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who's killing other vamps...

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Urban Fantasy is a pretty diverse genre. There are all kinds of twists on various folklores and mythologies, as well as multitudes of different takes on a myriad of supernatural creatures. We all have our favorites (and not-so-favorites). For me, if it has something to do with the Fae or Native American folklore, I’m probably going to love it. Ghosts, zombies, and other dead things in general (excepting vampires) . . . not so much. There are of course exceptions. I’m not a huge fan of C.E. Murphy’s Walker Papers series, while I love the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris. But generally speaking, if I see words like necromancy, ghosts, or zombies, I’ll go to great pains to avoid it, while when I see words like sidhe, tuatha de danann, coyote, or skinwalker, I squeal and make grabby hands.

Which is exactly what happened when I  came across Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.

When I first started reading Skinwalker, I thought that maybe I had gotten confused, and it wasn’t the first book in the series. Jane had just arrived in New Orleans to start a new job after healing from her previous job.

Previous job?

Yeah, the one where she and her friend Molly took out an entire family of rogue vampires, and she almost got her throat ripped out.


But it really was the first book, and the references to that first job were meant to entice you into reading the prequel story released in an anthology the same day that Skinwalker was released. It totally worked (on me), but it’s not necessary that you read Signatures of the Dead in order to understand the rest of the series. It’s very good, but it just fills out the bare-bones of the story that you learn about in Skinwalker. Fyi (just so you don’t scratch your head, wondering what’s going on like I did).

So. Jane in New Orleans for a new job. Right.

She motors up (on her badass, one-of-a-kind motorcycle) to Katie’s Ladies (a house of ill-repute) to finalize her contract with Katie of Katie’s Ladies, who is on the New Orleans Vampire Council, and who is hiring Jane to find and kill a rogue vampire who has been terrorizing the city, killing both vamps and humans.

And Jane is very good at her job.

There are so many things that I love about this book that I think I’m going to have to make a list. Lists are what I revert to when my brain feels full b/c I’m overwhelmed with all the goodness that was a book. SO—Why Jane Yellowrock Rocks My Socks Off:

1. She’s my favorite type of MC—tough on the outside, soft on the inside, both sympathetic and seriously kick-ass, not to mention hilariously full of snark.

2. BEAST. I’ve heard all kinds of complaints about Beast. Some as simple as, “I don’t like her, she’s distracting, annoying, etc.” Well, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I, however, LOVE Beast. She makes Jane a much more complex character, and her insights as a hunter and predator while Jane is on a job only add depth to the story.

3. Angelina. I’m a sucker for cute kids as secondary characters. When Julie showed up in book 2 of Kate Daniels, I was a goner. Angie-baby’s even more potent b/c she’s what? Four years old? Adorable.

4. Firm rules in reference to sups—I absolutely HATE it when authors try to polish and sparkle the existence of all things supernatural. You know what I’m talking about: vampires that don’t struggle with bloodlust, shifts from human to animal and back that happen in the blink of an eye and are painless, necromancers who only need to close their eyes and concentrate for a second or two to call up a specific spirit. No. Just, no. It takes time for Jane to change forms, and when she does, she’s starving b/c of the enormous amount of energy the change required. If she wants to be bigger or smaller than she is in real life, she has to either get the mass from somewhere, or store it somewhere. And Hunter’s vampires are vampires, predatory instincts and obvious lack of humanity included. I appreciate that.

5. The MEN. Rick, Leo, Bruiser, take your pick, they are all . . . SERIOUSLY hotcha hotcha. The twins aren’t bad either. Yes, TWINS.

And that’s where I’m going to end this expression of fangirlishness (but only out of self-respect, not necessity).

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter is the brilliant beginning of the Jane Yellowrock series. It takes you on a wild ride through the eyes of a puma concolor, on the roof of moving vehicles, all to catch a killer whose identity will surprise even veteran mystery readers. So if you’re looking for a tough-as-nails heroine who redefines what it means to be a vampire hunter, Jane Yellowrock just might be your girl. And Beast is pretty darn cool too.

Jessica Signature

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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102 responses to “Review: Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

    • I love my UF kicks—they’re the only ones I can’t voluntarily extract myself from, LOL. I hope you try out Jane and you like her, BUT Jane and Kitty are VERY different types of MCs. Fyi. I like them both though 😉

  1. You just reminded me that I need to continue this series, I really enjoyed this book too. I totally agree with everything you said. Excellent review!! This is a wild ride 🙂

    • My dad always rode motorcycles when I was growing up, so I always had this fantasy about having my own bike when I was in high school and college, LOL. I totally get to live vicariously through Jane 🙂

    • I do like it sometimes, but it has to be secondary to the plot—like I love the early Anita Blake books, and the ghosts in Jeaniene Frost’s books don’t bother me at all. But dead things creep me out, LOL.

    • Mine too. HIGH on my Top 5 UF list 🙂 I’m re-reading to get up to Black Arts (which I have high hopes for b/c honestly, the one before that wasn’t my favorite—I want some Rick OR Bruiser resolution!!) Is there resolution? Progress? You can tell me, I won’t get mad . . .

  2. I have this book since ever on my TBR. I have the paperback, but haven’t read it. Actually I was considering listening to the audiobook because it’s narrated by my favorite narrator ever, the amazing Khristine Hvam.
    Maybe when I’m done with the series I’m listening right now (Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara) I’ll start with the Jane Yellowrock series.
    Great review.

  3. “5. The MEN. Rick, Leo, Bruiser, take your pick, they are all . . . SERIOUSLY hotcha hotcha. The twins aren’t bad either. Yes, TWINS.”

    Is it weird that number five there is what completely sold me on this book? Don’t get me wrong, Jane and all her badassery and snark sound AWESOME, but that’s a fairly lengthy list of hotness for just one book, and dammit, I want to meet them all! I’ve been thinking about starting this series for a while now, and after this review I have zero excuse for not picking it up. Thanks Jessica!

    • You’re so welcome 😉 And yes, there is a serious overload of hot maleness in this series. So many intense moments that make you get all fluttery w/o crossing that line into a trashy Jane’s Parade of Men, you know? L-O-V-E it!

  4. Okay she definitely looks bada#$ on that cover!

    I love UF series and it can be a challenge to find a good one. It is funny because what usually scares you away, draws me in LOL! Fae are usually the ones that repeal me, not because I don’t like reading about them because I do but it is hard finding a good UF that doesn’t go too sci fi on me or become too hard to follow.
    I think I would definitely consider giving this one a try and thanks for the heads up about the prequel, I will definitely start there first!

    • Yeah, there are so many different types of Fae that I can see how they could get overwhelming. I take that for granted sometimes (I was raised on fairytales so I’m familiar with most of them). This one is Native American folklore (also childhood stories . . . I’m seeing a pattern 😉 ). ALSO–I’m pretty sure the prequel has been out long enough to be available outside of the anthology which means cheap!

  5. Hmmm…as this is the first in the series maybe this is the book for me to try out urban fantasy. I’m with you on authors romanticizing supernatural creatures who are supposed to be dark and scary! I think that’s why I hated that particular series of sparkly vampires. Great review!

    • *snickers* Yeah, I love it when authors make the make-believe easier to believe 😉 And if you’re a fan of seriously hardcore heroines, then I definitely recommend you check Jane out!

  6. Word to #4! I much prefer when authors leave the danger in their supernatural characters. They’re supposed to be different from humans, so let them have their differences. They shouldn’t just be humans with a little extra power. Let them have different desires and struggles; it’s what keeps things interesting.

  7. Pabkins  

    See mentioning the short story that was printed in uhhh STRANGE BREW – that is how I FOUND Faith Hunter! So you gotta give it to anthologies sometimes they turn people onto authors =) I really enjoyed that collection and would recommend it. Witch themed.

    Hotcha hotcha is right!!

    • Yeah, that’s actually one of the few I didn’t mind b/c there were so many good authors (that I read) in it. Must Love Hellhounds, Hexed, Hex Appeal, and An Apple for the Creature were all good too 😉 See—I don’t just universally hate them.

  8. Well darn it Jessica. You have made it impossible for me to wait any long in picking this series up. AH! I have started so many series and now I need to get to this one. I love all the reasons you loved this book. I’ve seen this series around and read several reviews of people recommending it. Now it looks like I must add it sooner then later.
    Great review!

  9. I really enjoyed this book too. Jane is a great character and I really love that she’s Native. You’re right about the rules for sups too, I love the transfer of mass and how hungry she is and such. I’ve read the next book but I’ve kinda tapered out on these books…they don’t hold me for some reason.

    Also, on a side note – have you read Home Improvements? That’s another good anthology – not as good as Strange Brew but good.

    • I absolutely loved them up until the last book, but I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel yet. Sometimes books just work for you, and these definitely do for me 🙂 And yes, I think I did read Home Improvements. Is that the one with the October story about the enormous spiders?!

  10. Thanks for your recommendations today, you should have included this one on my list. Believe it or not, I have long eyed this series but haven’t taken the plunge. I think I am going to get it worked into the schedule ASAP. I am positive I have a copy that I picked up a long time ago on a sale of this book. I want to find out more about Beast!

    • Beast is awesome! It’s one thing when an author tries to incorporate animal-like characteristics into characters, but it’s a whole new thing when they give those traits their own voice. L-O-V-E it. And I thought about including this one, but Jane’s a little less universally liked (for reasons that boggle my mind), so I went with the safer options b/c we had less in common UF-wise. My bad—I am happy to be wrong 🙂

  11. Thank you very much for pointing me in the direction of the prequel! I actually do have Strange Brew, and I did not know it had that story. Have to read it asap. Yes I love this series, 10 star reviews from me for almost all of them. I discovered it last year and it was such a rush to read 7 books in a short timespace. Warning, don’t get your hopes set on one specific male though …

    • NOOOOO!! I’m not thinking about this! GAH I can’t NOT think about it!

      Okay, it’s okay b/c there are two of them and I have no idea which one you’re talking about (and honestly I have no idea which one I want her to end up with b/c I’m still kind of ticked about the whole undercover thing when someone was still with Jane). Stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it . . .

      • Lol I won’t spoil it for you. I just want none of them, neither is right for Jane in my opinion (yes I am alone in that opinion). But Faith has told there will be a love scene in the book she is writing right now. So I am sooo curious who it will be. I keep hoping for a new guy, but Jane is not the kind of woman to jump into bed with a stranger.

      • Yet another thing I love about Jane. And I do agree with you, I think they both have serious issues that need to be resolved before they’re good enough for our Jane, but I keep hoping . . .

  12. Tanya  

    I think I read the first few chapter somewhere, maybe a sample on Amazon? But I enjoyed it and put it on my TBR, but have yet to get to it. It sounds like a good action packed Urban Fantasy that I’d enjoy.

  13. I read this one in French so I don’t know if it changes anything but even if I liked the idea, I wasn’t blown away like you. But it was nice yes. But as I said something translating things in French changes the book. I still need to try book 2 and your review makes me want to do that! Maybe soon! thanks!

    • I’m glad that you’re thinking about giving Jane a second chance. I do love her, but I know she’s not for everyone. I’m just lucky that all of the individual aspects of the book come together into something that really works well for me 🙂

  14. Now that cover is really amazing for UF books, the girl on the cover looks like many UF protagonists in my head. But back to the story I’m so glad you enjoyed it as it seems really good. I actually love that the story starts with mystery. It always works for me. Great review, Jessica 🙂

    • Thanks, Tanja 🙂 And that cover really does encapsulate everything that an UF heroine is supposed to be, doesn’t it? And I don’t mind the mystery either, but this is one of those series that people tend to either love, or hate, so I was trying to take preemptive measures against any confusion, LOL. Anything to get more people to stick it out a bit longer, you know?

    • See sometimes I really wish I could do the audiobook thing, but then there are times like this that I’m glad I don’t. I’m horrified of the idea of not liking a book based on a narrator, but I know that it happens b/c a few years ago I got an audio version of one of my favorite books for my husband and I to listen to during our holiday driving, and it. Was. Awful. I’m sorry audio ruined this series for you. Maybe I’ll be able to convince you to read them . . . *plots* 😉

  15. I loved this one too and I so need to catch up on the series. I can’t believe that anyone would not like Beast! Seriously! Love that cat! 😀 Btw, don’t you love her bike, Bitsa? I want one! LOL

    • Me TOO! I already told someone else that my dad always had motorcycles when I was growing up, so it was my high school/college dream to have one and be that awesome-girl-on-a-motorcycle. Never happened, LOL, but I can live vicariously through Jane 😉 And Beast IS amazing. I don’t understand not liking her even a little bit!

    • Well I think it’s pretty fantastic 😉 And I’m also partial to UF series that take place in New Orleans. Probably b/c my start in the genre was with Lestat and Anne Rice . . .

  16. I’ve had this series on my list for a long time and was hesitant to read it due to mixed reviews but you definitely sold me! I recently sampled the audiobook and bought it on sale so I’m looking forward to meeting this kick ass heroine! Great review Jessica!

  17. This sounds like a fun series. I agree about needing supernatural characters to struggle. I hate it when vampires are just emo rich characters.

  18. Faye M.  

    Jessica, I’m sure you know a little about me by now, and one of those tidbits about myself is I rarely read Urban Fantasy. I think I only got introduced to the genre last year through Written in Red, which I loved above all the YA I read in the past two years. Urban fantasy is now looking more and more appealing by the day thanks to your enthusiastic reviews.

    I remember Skinwalker when I read the second book of the Experiment in Terror series, and I remember it being a wee bit scary, lol! I’ll definitely check this one out. The MC sounds really the kind of person I’d love to read as well! Thanks for the review <3 <3 <3

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    • Yeah, there are several different versions of the skinwalker myth, and Hunter definitely models Jane after the least scary/creepy one. I didn’t make it past the first EIT book, so I don’t know what Halle did with it, but I can imagine. I can, however, promise you that Jane is not an evil witch running around and killing animals or people for their skins 😉 And I think you’d like Jane as an MC too. She is seriously self-sufficient and constantly letting her mouth and attitude get her into trouble—she has her hang-ups just like anyone, she just doesn’t let them stop her from doing what needs to get done.

      UF is calling your name, Faye . . .

  19. jenniferbielman  

    Angelina and Beast are my fav part of this series. I am so happy you loved this one. It only gets better! I am such sucker for the action in this one.

    • Me too! I loved them all up until Blood Trade—the environment change in that one just didn’t sit right with me. I have yet to read Black Arts though, but I have high hopes . . .

  20. Christy

    Okay, definitely going to get into this series.I went on GR to see how many books there are in the series so far and noticed a lot of novellas. I’ll have to read those first then. I’m curious about Beast.

    • BEAST!! Beast is the best! Most of the time if you have shifters in PNR of UF, the author make a few eyes flash and some hands transform halfway to claws and calls it a day. Beast is a completely separate entity. And you can get most (all?) of the prequels/novellas in the Have Stakes, Will Travel and Cat Tales collections. Fyi 😉

  21. The first three-ish books in this series are gorgeous, Jessica! I really enjoyed them too and thoroughly recommend them. Faith Hunter has another fantasy series which is pretty awesome as well. Lovely review, and yes, the men are HOT. 🙂

  22. Ok it’s official you are so bad for my TBR pile. I could feel your giddy excitedness and now have to add this on Goodreads! This book sounds awesome. I totally understand about reverting to lists when you are overwhelmed with awesomeness 🙂

    Great review Jessica 🙂

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

    • Thank you! That’s all I aspire to, LOL (being bad for someone’s TBR pile). And yes, sometimes lists are the only way I can express my thoughts coherently when there is just SO much to communicate about a book. It’s actually one of my hallmarks for measuring how much I really liked a book 😉

  23. Jo Good

    What a great review!! Of course, I am a HUGE Jane fan, LOVE LOVE LOVE Beast and Angie-baby is the most adorable kick-butt-chick-in-training there is!! 🙂
    I’m going to have to keep an eye out for your reviews, because it seems like you & I enjoy the same type of books! Keep it up!! 🙂
    THANKS!! 🙂

    • No, thank YOU! Any friend of Jane’s is a friend of mine 😉 And since you brought it up, how cool would it be if Hunter wrote and Angie series at some point in the future?! Also–my eye is on you as well 🙂 Or not b/c no link . . .

      • Jo Good

        LOL! Sorry, I am a blog-less reader!
        I do happen to know that there will be a Jane Yellowrock universe spin off series coming, but no date yet that I know of. It isn’t Angie-baby, although that would be amazing with awesome sauce! But it still promises to be fantastic, Faith Hunter always delivers!!

      • That’s cool 😉 Friend request me if you’re on Goodreads (if you want to). All KINDS of ways to internet stalk people 🙂
        And yes, I saw that the other day when she did a guest post on another blog! SO excited.

  24. I’ve been wanting to read this series for ages! I have at least the first book and several more too, I think. I like when kids show up as well, they tend to lighten things up at the right moment. Hopefully I can read this soon!

  25. Ooh well first I love this cover! And the prequel that it makes you want to read is it a novella? I personally don’t like reading novellas or feeling like I have too booo! Lol I guess it depends how much I like the series though. Jane sounds like a pretty kick ass protagonist!! Great review, Jessica!

    • I love the cover too. It paints a very clear picture of the kind of MC Jane is 😉 and no, you don’t have to read the prequels/novellas to understand the story. I typically don’t like to read them either, unless it’s one of my favorite series (and this definitely is).

      Thanks, Giselle!

  26. *groans* I have this book on my ‘might-read-one-day’ list on Goodreads, but you made it so tempting to just go ahead and get it! I love mythology and native american characters, too! And to have it still be urban fantasy just makes it sound all the better!

    Thanks for the great review, Jessica 🙂 I hope you’re having a great week!

  27. I love the cover! Jane looks badass.. This series has been on my tbr pile for ages & I think I actually have this book so you’ve prompted me to pick it up – I’m curious about Beast & I’m a sucker for cute secondary characters as well.

    A great review!

  28. I have book 1 of this and it came highly recommended by a fellow blogger, I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet… and I’m a fan of well developed secondary characters, they bring so much to the table and makes the MCs more interesting

  29. Squee! I’m so glad this is so good! I JUST picked it up as a BOGO on audible in the last month and I’m really hoping to get to it. Love your fangirl list BTW, awesomeness 🙂

  30. I added it on Goodreads! I had to after your fangirling. Thanks for the heads up on the “previous job.” I’d be rifling through the pages wondering if I need a nap because I missed something. Great review!!

    • Woot! Fangirling strikes again, LOL. And yeah, you don’t need a nap. That was actually one of the prequels I felt compelled to read b/c it just sounded like such an awesome, hardcore Jane adventure.

  31. I’ve never, to this day, read the prequel short, and I still enjoyed this series a lot, up to a point. Like you, I liked Jane and adored Beast, but for some reason, I really despised Rick from the very beginning. I stopped reading somewhere around book 5 because the whole thing started being a bit repetitive, but I’m thinking I should resume. I’ve had a long break from it.

    • Now that book 7 is out, I can recommend going back to the series. Book 6 was weird, and not my favorite, so I would have held off before the next book was out. But I don’t think I’ve read a single UF series that hasn’t had it’s ups and downs, and yes, RICK was a problem for me too. Womanizer that he was. Hmph. But he’s been growing on me for awhile now. Who knows how it will all turn out though? Not me 😉 As long as Jane is happy, I’m happy.