I must admit, I was rather looking forward to reading this book. It's a debut novel from a first time author and I think she did a decent job. The story takes place in a small town in Washington where people are struggling to coexist with supernatural beings, also known as Others. The main character Gwen is half human, half pooka and has never met her Welsh pooka father. She grew up with her human mother, stepfather, and half-sister and spent most of her life homeschooled because her parents wish to keep her Other half a secret. Gwen is in a relationship with Zack, a boy who comes from a very religious Christian background, and she fears telling him about her Otherness almost as much as she worries about losing her virginity. The story really starts to take off after Others in her area start turning up dead and Gwen decides to investigate these murders, along with her friend Tavian, a kitsune or fox spirit. He is the one character that I grew quite fond of while reading. He eventually becomes a rival for Gwen’s affection, and I find it terribly endearing that he is only 5’4, while Gwen towers over him at 5’7. What can I say, I like short guys :o)
What I loved most about Other was how Gwen continuously struggled with her Otherness and with what it means to be only half human. Those who live in her small town perceive and judge Others because they fear what they can’t understand. There is an interesting example of this when Gwen is grocery shopping with her father and they run into a centaur in the fruit and vegetable aisle. Gwen simultaneously wants to embrace her Otherness and reject it. She hates the idea of being different from the norm, but is quick to defend those who are being slandered. When her family makes ignorant remarks toward Others or when people use slurs such as "gick" or "cur,” she becomes incensed, yet when victims start turning up, she is quick to accuse a local Werewolf of being the murderer, simply because of her own prejudice against Weres. The common assumption is that to be a Were, one must also be a violent criminal. There is also her prejudice against Others that are made instead of bloodborn. She takes pride in the fact that she was born half pooka and looks down on vampires and Weres because they were made or are “diseased.”
My biggest issue with Other was that it was predictable. I guessed that the killer would be one of two people and was disappointed to discover towards the end that my assumption, more or less, was correct (I can’t explain without spoilers). I also suspected which characters would turn up as victims of the serial killer, which lessened the impact of their untimely deaths. There are always those people who no matter what they read or watch on TV, always seem to know what is going to happen and who the killer is. I'm not one of those people. Not by a long shot. So for me to figure certain things out within the first hundred pages of the book was disappointing. It was also difficult for me to truly lose myself in the story. I kept setting little goals, such as “I'm going to read up to page 250, before I stop reading and do this...” Get the idea? One shouldn't be so conscious of the fact that they are reading during the act. It takes all the fun out of it! I’m not saying that the book was boring, but it wasn’t particularly thrilling either. I’m interested in reading the next book in the series, which centers on a character named Brock. You’ll have to read Other to learn more about him!