Amanda Green’s Nocturnal Origin, a review

Lions and tigers and weres, oh my!

I just finished Nocturnal Origin, the first book in the “Nocturnal Lives” series by Amanda S. Green.

The book is an urban fantasy, detailing the adventures of Police Homicide Detective MacKenzie Santos as she becomes exposed to, and a part of, a world of shapeshifting human/animal creatures.  The shapeshifters come in to basic types:  “pures” where the trait is genetic passed down through bloodlines (although recessive and subject to being “activated” later in life), and “lycans” where the trait is passed as an infection and a normal person can be “turned”.

This particular volume does not indicate how “turning” is done although there are indications it involves more than simply biting someone (without killing them) and that it can happen accidentally.  At least, one character considers the possibility that he has accidentally turned someone.

Mackenzie, Mac, is investigating a brutal, and bloody, murder, one that seems more like the mauling of a wild animal than the result of a human murderer.  She soon comes to realize striking parallels between that attack and the one she had survived not long before the story opened.

At the end of the day, she goes home.  The moon is full.  While she’s home, pain rips through Mackenzie’s body and, well, so far as she is concerned she blacks out until she wakes exhausted, naked, in her back yard.

And I’m sure most everyone reading this knows what happened.  Well, not quite.  MacKenzie is promoted to Lieutenant, put in charge of the Homicide division, and gets a new partner.  She is also soon introduced to a “pride” of “pures.” As you might imagine from the name the “pride” consists of feline shapeshifters.  The Lycans, old enemies of theirs, are wolves.  Note that, although except for a brief appearance by someone described as changing into a rat we only see wolves and felines in this story we are told that other animal types are also represented.  Pride, pard, pack, and herd are mentioned.

And yes, Mackenzie is a “pure” who shifts into a jaguar.  And so she has three tasks . . . four.  She has to bring a killer to justice, keep the secret of pures and weres, learn to deal with her new-found nature, and somehow find the balance to keep her humanity in the process.

The story had some elements that might seem cliched but they flowed naturally from the characters and situation and did not interfere with the story.

I enjoyed it and can recommend it to others who might like urban fantasy with a law enforcement twist.

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