Night World #8: Witchlight by L.J. Smith

Keller is a werepanther born in half form who never really knew a loving family. She was rescued by Circle Daybreak and their cause. Now as  teen she’s thrown herself into trying to be the perfect Circle Daybreak field agent. She has little room for anything else, which is probably why she’s rather annoyed that she’s assigned to protect the next Wild Power–who turns out to be a whiny, useless girl who is utterly helpless (not to mention in denial).

Worse, somehow the son of the first family of shape shifters has stumbled into Keller’s operation and she be falling for him. Too bad he’s promised to the lost witch Keller’s protecting.

Keller is struggling with her own humanity–that is the lack there of. She’s never known what it’s like to be “normal” and is struggling to deal with jealousy at what her charge seems to have handed to her.  It’s an interesting skew of many of the other Night World books where ordinary people discover the extraordinary inside themselves. But it’s pretty easy for this book to come off as whiny, since Keller is fighting so hard to suppress her emotions and is so formidable that others careful avoid trying to help her figure out why she’s really so angry and lost. Plus Keller’s view of the Wild Power/Witch Child make her out to be a pretty whiny, shallow character for most of the book.

Of course as Keller deals with her emotions she realizes her charge is far more than she first thought. Plus, as a bonus, we get to see a BFF/side character who is deaf, something that rarely comes up in this realm of Person of Color or gay sidekicks. (And again I find myself happily surprised as just how much “color” is naturally in the Night World books, something YA is commonly charged of lacking.)

If you’re reading this far you’re into this series for the long haul (since there’s only one more book left). While using elements familiar to readers by now Smith also uses anxious, actiony Keller to ramp readers up for the last chapter of the Night World, and the end of the world battle that’s coming.

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