Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Cremer, A. (2010). Nightshade. London, England: Penguin Group.

ISBN-13: 978-0142419809

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Werewolves

Reading level/ interest age: 15+

Plot summary:

Calla is the head of a local werewolf pack called the Nightshades. On a routine scouting run, she comes across a hiker being attacked by a bear. Against her better judgment, Calla steps in to save him. During the rescue, she reveals herself to him but quickly puts the day out of her mind and chocks up the boy’s ability to remember to blood loss. However, when the hiker shows up at school as a transfer student the following semester, Calla begins to worry her pack’s secret may be exposed. 

The hiker is the least of Calla’s worries. With her impending marriage to another of the pack, Ren, she has more to focus on than school. Their pack is also being closely watched by the Keepers who use their special skills to keep the area safe from threats. Calla has enough to deal with when the hiker approaches and introduces himself. Instead of turning him away, Calla takes an interest in him. But her duty to the pack and the safety of the town could be put in jeopardy if Calla makes a wrong decision.

Reader’s annotation:

Calla is the head of a new werewolf pack called the Nightshades. To secure her pack’s position, Calla must marry the son of another member. But when a mysterious hiker shows up in school, Calla may have a hard time remembering her priorities.

Information about the author:

“Andrea Cremer is a New York Times and international bestselling author. She spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She now lives in Manhattan, but at heart she will always be a small-town girl.

“Andrea has always loved writing and has never stopped writing, but it took a horse and a broken foot to prompt her to finally write the novel she'd always dreamed of writing. Prior to becoming a full-time novelist, Andrea resided in the academic world where she taught early modern history.

“When she's not writing, Andrea tries to master difficult yoga poses, wanders through Central Park, and hunts for new music to provide the soundtracks to her novels” (, 2014).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       If you were Calla, would you marry Ren or want to be able to choose your own destiny?
2.       Would you have saved Shay?

Critical evaluation:

The story is told from Calla’s point of view which limits the view of the story to just Calla’s experiences. The book would have been more interesting if it had traded perspectives or if it had been written in the third person. For example, Ren, Calla’s fiancĂ©, is an interesting character and Calla’s slow decision to shirk her duties as head of the pack would have been better documented with his details added in. The characters also fell a bit flat. During the scene where Calla is saving the hiker, Shay, she says she does it because she could not stand to see him die. However, this is never explained in greater detail. The reader is left wondering what about Shay that Calla would miss if he were gone. I also had a problem with Calla herself. As head of the pack, she should have more duties and responsibilities than the author gives her. We know the Nightshades take patrols of the city and that Calla has to marry Ren but other than that, there is not much mention of her responsibilities or of werewolf lore. 

The werewolves in this story could care less about the moon’s phases. Calla and her pack members can change at will. When transformed, they are also fully wolf rather than a combination of human and beast. The pack has an interesting form of telepathic communication that they use as a means of getting in touch over long distances. Calla often shifts form in the book to escape their prying thoughts. Overall, the book was a bit of a let-down. Werewolf lore is not followed, Calla’s position as pack leader is not believable, and her loyalties are easily broken.

Challenge issues: N/A

Why included:

I included this book because of the recent craze over fantasy characters. Calla is a werewolf and the book is told from her perspective whereas werewolves are generally depicted as men. I thought some young women may be interested in Nightshade because of the main character being female.

Reference: (2014). Andrea Cremer. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from

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