Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock Series #1)

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock Series #1)

by Faith Hunter

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Overview

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock Series #1) by Faith Hunter

Meet shapeshifting skinwalker Jane Yellowrock in the first novel in the New York Times bestselling series that captures “the essence of urban fantasy” (SF Site).

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 Katies’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.

Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission—or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451462800
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/07/2009
Series: Jane Yellowrock Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 72,263
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Faith Hunter is the New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series, the Soulwood series, and the Rogue Mage series.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I travel light

I wheeled my bike down Decatur Street and eased deeper into the French Quarter, the bike’s engine purring. My shotgun, a Benelli M4 Super 90, was slung over my back and loaded for vamp with hand-packed silver fléchette rounds. I carried a selection of silver crosses in my belt, hidden under my leather jacket, and stakes, secured in loops on my jeans-clad thighs. The saddlebags on my bike were filled with my meager travel belongings—clothes in one side, tools of the trade in the other. As a vamp killer for hire, I travel light.

I’d need to put the vamp-hunting tools out of sight for my interview. My hostess might be offended. Not a good thing when said hostess held my next paycheck in her hands and possessed a set of fangs of her own.

A guy, a good-looking Joe standing in a doorway, turned his head to follow my progress as I motored past. He wore leather boots, a jacket, and jeans, like me, though his dark hair was short and mine was down to my hips when not braided out of the way, tight to my head, for fighting. A Kawasaki motorbike leaned on a stand nearby. I didn’t like his interest, but he didn’t prick my predatory or territorial instincts.

I maneuvered the bike down St. Louis and then onto Dauphine, weaving between nervous-looking shop workers heading home for the evening and a few early revelers out for fun. I spotted the address in the fading light. Katie’s Ladies was the oldest continually operating whorehouse in the Quarter, in business since 1845, though at various locations, depending on hurricane, flood, the price of rent, and the agreeable nature of local law and its enforcement officers. I parked, set the kickstand, and unwound my long legs from the hog.

I had found two bikes in a junkyard in Charlotte, North Carolina, bodies rusted, rubber rotted. They were in bad shape. But Jacob, a semiretired Harley restoration mechanic/ Zen Harley priest living along the Catawba River, took my money, fixing one up, using the other for parts, ordering what else he needed over the Net. It took six months.

During that time I’d hunted for him, keeping his wife and four kids supplied with venison, rabbit, turkey—whatever I could catch, as maimed as I was—restocked supplies from the city with my hoarded money, and rehabbed my damaged body back into shape. It was the best I could do for the months it took me to heal. Even someone with my rapid healing and variable metabolism takes a long while to totally mend from a near beheading.

Now that I was a hundred percent, I needed work. My best bet was a job killing off a rogue vampire that was terrorizing the city of New Orleans. It had taken down three tourists and left a squad of cops, drained and smiling, dead where it dropped them. Scuttlebutt said it hadn’t been satisfied with just blood—it had eaten their internal organs. All that suggested the rogue was old, powerful, and deadly—a whacked-out vamp. The nutty ones were always the worst.

Just last week, Katherine “Katie” Fonteneau, the proprietress and namesake of Katie’s Ladies, had e-mailed me. According to my Web site, I had successfully taken down an entire blood-family in the mountains near Asheville. And I had. No lies on the Web site or in the media reports, not bald-faced ones anyway. Truth is, I’d nearly died, but I’d done the job, made a rep for myself, and then taken off a few months to invest my legitimately gotten gains. Or to heal, but spin is everything. A lengthy vacation sounded better than the complete truth.

I took off my helmet and the clip that held my hair, pulling my braids out of my jacket collar and letting them fall around me, beads clicking. I palmed a few tools of the trade—one stake, ash wood and silver tipped; a tiny gun; and a cross—and tucked them into the braids, rearranging them to hang smoothly with no lumps or bulges. I also breathed deeply, seeking to relax, to assure my safety through the upcoming interview. I was nervous, and being nervous around a vamp was just plain dumb.

The sun was setting, casting a red glow on the horizon, limning the ancient buildings, shuttered windows, and wrought-iron balconies in fuchsia. It was pretty in a purely human way. I opened my senses and let my Beast taste the world. She liked the smells and wanted to prowl. Later, I promised her. Predators usually growl when irritated. Soon—she sent mental claws into my soul, kneading. It was uncomfortable, but the claw pricks kept me alert, which I’d need for the interview. I had never met a civilized vamp, certainly never done business with one. So far as I knew, vamps and skinwalkers had never met. I was about to change that. This could get interesting.

I clipped my sunglasses onto my collar, lenses hanging out. I glanced at the witchy-locks on my saddlebags and, satisfied, I walked to the narrow red door and pushed the buzzer. The bald-headed man who answered was definitely human, but big enough to be something else: professional wrestler, steroid-augmented bodybuilder, or troll. All of the above, maybe. The thought made me smile. He blocked the door, standing with arms loose and ready. “Something funny?” he asked, voice like a horse-hoof rasp on stone.

“Not really. Tell Katie that Jane Yellowrock is here.” Tough always works best on first acquaintance. That my knees were knocking wasn’t a consideration.

“Card?” Troll asked. A man of few words. I liked him already. My new best pal. With two gloved fingers, I unzipped my leather jacket, fished a business card from an inside pocket, and extended it to him. It read JANE YELLOWROCK, HAVE STAKES WILL TRAVEL. Vamp killing is a bloody business. I had discovered that a little humor went a long way to making it all bearable.

Troll took the card and closed the door in my face. I might have to teach my new pal a few manners. But that was nearly axiomatic for all the men of my acquaintance.

I heard a bike two blocks away. It wasn’t a Harley. Maybe a Kawasaki, like the bright red crotch rocket I had seen earlier. I wasn’t surprised when it came into view and it was the Joe from Decatur Street. He pulled his bike up beside mine, powered down, and sat there, eyes hidden behind sunglasses. He had a toothpick in his mouth and it twitched once as he pulled his helmet and glasses off.

The Joe was a looker. A little taller than my six feet even, he had olive skin, black hair, black brows. Black jacket and jeans. Black boots. Bit of overkill with all the black, but he made it work, with muscular legs wrapped around the red bike.

No silver in sight. No shotgun, but a suspicious bulge beneath his right arm. Made him a leftie. Something glinted in the back of his collar. A knife hilt, secured in a spine sheath. Maybe more than one blade. There were scuffs on his boots (Western, like mine, not Harley butt-stompers) but his were Fryes and mine were ostrich-skin Luccheses. I pulled in scents, my nostrils widening. His boots smelled of horse manure, fresh. Local boy, then, or one who had been in town long enough to find a mount. I smelled horse sweat and hay, a clean blend of scents. And cigar. It was the cigar that made me like him. The taint of steel, gun oil, and silver made me fall in love. Well, sorta. My Beast thought he was kinda cute, and maybe tough enough to be worthy of us. Yet there was a faint scent on the man, hidden beneath the surface smells, that made me wary.

The silence had lasted longer than expected. Since he had been the one to pull up, I just stared, and clearly our silence bothered the Joe, but it didn’t bother me. I let a half grin curl my lip. He smiled back and eased off his bike. Behind me, inside Katie’s, I heard footsteps. I maneuvered so that the Joe and the doorway were both visible. No way could I do it and be unobtrusive, but I raised a shoulder to show I had no hard feelings. Just playing it smart. Even for a pretty boy.

Troll opened the door and jerked his head to the side. I took it as the invitation it was and stepped inside. “You got interesting taste in friends,” Troll said, as the door closed on the Joe.

“Never met him. Where you want the weapons?” Always better to offer than to have them removed. Power plays work all kinds of ways.

Troll opened an armoire. I unbuckled the shotgun holster and set it inside, pulling silver crosses from my belt and thighs and from beneath the coat until there was a nice pile. Thirteen crosses—excessive, but they distracted people from my backup weapons. Next came the wooden stakes and silver stakes. Thirteen of each. And the silver vial of holy water. One vial. If I carried thirteen, I’d slosh.

I hung the leather jacket on the hanger in the armoire and tucked the glasses in the inside pocket with the cell phone. I closed the armoire door and assumed the position so Troll could search me. He grunted as if surprised, but pleased, and did a thorough job. To give him credit, he didn’t seem to enjoy it overmuch—used only the backs of his hands, no fingers, didn’t linger or stroke where he shouldn’t. Breathing didn’t speed up, heart rate stayed regular; things I can sense if it’s quiet enough. After a thorough feel inside the tops of my boots, he said, “This way.”

I followed him down a narrow hallway that made two crooked turns toward the back of the house. We walked over old Persian carpets, past oils and watercolors done by famous and not-so-famous artists. The hallway was lit with stained-glass Lalique sconces, which looked real, not like reproductions, but maybe you can fake old; I didn’t know. The walls were painted a soft butter color that worked with the sconces to illuminate the paintings. Classy joint for a whorehouse. The Christian children’s home schoolgirl in me was both appalled and intrigued.

When Troll paused outside the red door at the end of the hallway, I stumbled, catching my foot on a rug. He caught me with one hand and I pushed off him with little body contact. I managed to look embarrassed; he shook his head. He knocked. I braced myself and palmed the cross he had missed. And the tiny two-shot derringer. Both hidden against my skull on the crown of my head, and covered by my braids, which men never, ever searched, as opposed to my boots, which men always had to stick their fingers in. He opened the door and stood aside. I stepped in.

The room was spartan but expensive, and each piece of furniture looked Spanish. Old Spanish. Like Queen-Isabella- and-Christopher-Columbus old. The woman, wearing a teal dress and soft slippers, standing beside the desk, could have passed for twenty until you looked in her eyes. Then she might have passed for said queen’s older sister. Old, old, old eyes. Peaceful as she stepped toward me. Until she caught my scent.

In a single instant her eyes bled red, pupils went wide and black, and her fangs snapped down. She leaped. I dodged under her jump as I pulled the cross and derringer, quickly moving to the far wall, where I held out the weapons. The cross was for the vamp, the gun for the Troll. She hissed at me, fangs fully extended. Her claws were bone white and two inches long. Troll had pulled a gun. A big gun. Men and their pissing contests. Crap. Why couldn’t they ever just let me be the only one with a gun?

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher


"A new, strongly unique voice in the dark fantasy genre."
-Kim Harrison

"Hunter's very professionally executed, tasty blend of dark fantasy, mystery, and romance should please fans of all three genres."
-Booklist

Customer Reviews

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Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 269 reviews.
Trebble More than 1 year ago
When I spied this book, I knew I wanted to read it. A full blooded Cherokee staring as the heroine of the book instead of ending up on the sidelines only to impart some wisdom and disappear. This story started out in "Strange Brew" under the name "Kits". However, you do not have to read that short story before you pick up this book. This book stands well on it's own. Within Jane, she has the spirit/magic and energy of "Beast" who in one life was a mountain lion. They share a precarious relationship in which they have to agree who is alpha and control of the body. She is able to tap into Beast's energy and strength, and Beast is also able to tap into her power. It is an interesting relationship and is quite humorous at times. Beast has a better sense of humor than Jane in my opinion. Oh, and before I get into the rest of the review, I must mention "Bitsa" as well. Bitsa is Jane's bike and one I'd love to have (if I had any coordination at all, that is...) The story is fast paced. I was surprised there would be so much mystery within the rogue vampire as it seemed that her job was very straight forward. Find the rogue, kill it. But with this story, tracking the rogue proved to provide more information than even Jane would have thought possible. Information about vampires she thought she'd never possess and more importantly, information about herself. Now, with her distant forgotten past less mysterious, will she be able to put together all the puzzle pieces to stop the rogue? Did she trust the right people? Heh... not going to tell you. You'll have to pick this one up to find out. I gave this book 4 stars and recommend this one to anyone to loves a good urban fantasy. "Blood Cross" is the next book in this series which has just been published. I wish I had the second one in my hand, but alas, I have to wait to see what other things Jane discovers. Oh, and as a little trivia I thought I'd add.. In the book, the vampires hate to be called vamps. They prefer Mithrains. Jane connected it to Mithra, but was not confirmed in her observation. Mithra is a sun god in an old religion. So, the question remains... was Faith Hunter using it as tongue in cheek, or is there more to the story. Hope we find out in this series. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's wonderful when you come across a new author that just grabs you... Faith Hunter hooked me in with her strong, wild character and new story line of Skinwalker. If you're a fan of Were's, Vampires and other things that go bump in the night, you will likely find her books to rock!!! Liked her so much, I immediately bought the second book in the series and signed up for more on her website.
Mudepoz More than 1 year ago
I am a sucker for science-based urban fantasy. When the story is firmly grounded in physics but takes it one step further to develop a complex world I am hooked. Faith has managed to explain the great mystery as to where mass goes during a shape shift and other mysteries. She brings the typical cast of supernatural characters to her story, but they are dark creatures, no sparkling vampires. Jane Yellowrock is maybe the last of her kind, a shapeshifting Cherokee skinwalker who uses her abilities to bounty hunt vampires. I was pulled into the story and enjoyed the character development and attention to detail.
Crikel83 More than 1 year ago
The Jane Yellowrock series is one of my favorite series. There are currently five books in the series with the sixth one (Blood Trade) set to release in April of 2013. The first book is Skinwalker. The series features a Cherokee Skinwalker who is the last of her kind. Unlike most shapeshifter series, Jane is able to shift into any type of animal and is not limited to one type of animal throughout the whole series. We watch as Jane, a rogue vampire hunter, finds herself working for a vampire, learning of their culture, the culture of the people who serve them and sometimes finding that she is not the top predator in the room. I found her character development interesting. This is not a traditional shapeshifter and vampire series and I found I rather enjoyed the fresh take in the urban fantasy genre. If you like Kim Harrison Rachel Morgan series, Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series, and Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series (just to name a few) then you should also try this series!
kitkat3ny More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Jane Yellowrock is a vampire hunter with a deadly secret; she is also a skinwalker who shares her body with a panther and together they are Beast. Beast roams the night, while Jane functions for them both during the day. In a world where witches and vampires are the only preternaturals to come out of the supernatural closet, she stands alone amongst her kind. Jane accepts a job by a vampire madam in the Big Easy, to hunt down a rogue vampire who has taken up a new cannibalistic hobby, making a good meal out of the local vampire and human community. The job is risky, dirty and dangerous and puts Jane in jeopardy of coming face to face with a being worse than a rogue vampire...a liver-eater. Faith Hunter has such a gift of intertwining a vividly intricate story that I even found interesting during the slow parts. This story was gruesome, dark, and gritty and adds a fresh new take on vampires. Jane Yellowrock is filled with a twisted dark humor that I love. She's a strong woman who is no-nonsense and tough. She gets the job done, doesn't second guess herself to death, she's not too-stupid-to-live and she doesn't whine and pout. I highly recommend this book and also Faith's Jane Yellowrock short story in the Strange Brew anthology. I also look forward to the next book in the series Blood Cross due out 1/5/2010.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1962 vampires were outed when Marilyn Monroe was caught trying to turn the president of the United States, but instead the Secret Service staked her. The press learned of the incident and follow-up investigations led to the knowledge that vampires exist. Not long afterward, real witches were revealed as genuine. Vampires do not possess the same civil rights as mortals have; legislation is being proposed to make the vampires adapt their culture to the masses; which would prohibit the practice of owning blood slaves and indentured blood servants amongst other differences.---------- Jane Yellowrock, a skinwalker of Cherokee descent, can change into any animals she chooses; her preference is the panther, the form of Beast whose soul resides in her body. She is stronger and faster than a human and she hunts rogue (insane) vamps as a slayer. In New Orleans, ancient vampire Katherine Fontaneau, Madame Katie of Katie's Ladies, hires her to kill a powerful rogue vampire who is committing genocide against his species. Jane follows the murderous scent in her human and panther bodies, but Beast believes the predator is not a vampire, but instead a liver-eater who is much more dangerous than vampires or witches combined.---------- Beast and Jane have their own chapters which emphasizes their different values and perspective, which is key to believing that two essences share the same body as opposed to the heroine having multiple personality disorder. Their differences are fascinating and at time often amusing as each come to a scenario with a different agenda similar to that of the comedy All of Me starring Martin-Tomlin, but Jane-Beast are in a lethal world. The killer is super while Jane and Beast feel they are always one corpse behind. With a great unique premise on outing the supernatural, Faith Hunter gives her Rogue Mage Thorn St. Croix a respite as she starts a super new and thrilling urban fantasy series.---- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book because of the positive reviews. I liked the concept, but I found the book very long and skimmed some of the pages. I am a huge fan of Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison and hoped this would be a new favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so tired of otherwise good writers using the same old "oh i must choose between a selection of absurdly hot men all of whom have characteristics that cannot exist simultaneously in a single personality. I ragequit reading on page 145.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have become a big fan of the Jane Yellowrock books. The characters are interesting and the story kept me turning pages in anticipation. 5 stars for Skinwalker. I also like the way Faith Hunter explains the secrets of shapeshifting and stealing mass from another object. I suck at reviews but highly recommend these books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well its ok if you can stand baby talk. Her beast side when it is prominent talks and relays its messages in 2 year old language. Me want. Me see. Etcetra etcetra. I found it to be very annoying. Could not get passed it to really enjoy the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm going to keep this short and sweet, unlike others. This book is full of character. The people, the plot, the story, leave you panting for more. It is the unlimate urban fantasy. Finished this book in about 8 hours reading time. (I read quick). Enjoy this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome series !!! Worth reading ! Skin walker, vampires and lots of action. Hope you enjoy! Great author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane and Beast share bodies, hunt rogue vamps and kill them. Jane also dances a killer tango and navigates the vampire political hierarchy with skill. Beast is...full of surprises, which I will not spoil here. This is truly paranormal with a unique twist!
anewport More than 1 year ago
Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series is amazing. This series is fast paced and will leave you wanting to read more the minute you finish the book. I give this book and the writer 5 stars and if I could I would give more! This book WILL pull you in to a world full of surprises and tings you do not expect. Please read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so much better than I thought it would be. Very impressed with the plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, loved it, could not put it down. Very different, now reading the second.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So well written and engaging, I was breathless to get to the next installment. A bit of romance, plenty of action, shapeshifters, vampires and all sorts of fun! Grab it quick.
Diana85 More than 1 year ago
I can't get enough of Jane Yellowrock and can't wait for book 3 in the future!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Good story
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book moved very quickly and kept me intrigued.
Anonymous 8 months ago
A very different take on the vampire hunter theme. I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I bought #2 in the series [BLOOD CROSS] before I even finished SKINWALKER.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Looking forward to the series.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I had such a hard time putting this down I looking forward to starting the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than I expected, with some surprises and a fast but mostly good ending. Most plot lines are tied up and there is a series teaser about unfinished business.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely a genre book, but a good one