This is the story of a black, human-vampire hybrid named Shori who struggles against discrimination based on her differences from white, pure vampires. Shori wakes up in the woods in Washington with no memory of who or what she is, and seeks food and answers. She encounters Wright, who calls her a vampire after she feeds on his blood. Her feeding allows her to control Wright, and he helps her discover her past and identity.
However, Wright is not able to give her enough blood to survive, so she also feeds on his neighbor, a poet named Theodora. They are both bound to her in mutualistic symbiosis--she shares intimate physical and emotional contact with them as well as taking their blood.
Wright helps Shori find a ruined house, and there she encounters another Ina (which is what the vampires call themselves) named Iosif. He claims to be her father, and tells her details about her past, including her name and age (she looks like a very young teen, but is actually in her 50s). The destroyed house was her mother's, and she seems to be the only one who survived the attack.
Iosif invites Shori, Wright, and Theodora to join him in a nearby community of Ina. There, Shori learns that she is part of an experiment to create more sun-resistant Ina--she is the daughter of a black human woman. However, as she and her human symbionts prepare to move to the commune, Iosif's place is burned in the same way as Shori's mother's house.
After the loss of her parents, Shori takes Wright and Iosif's surviving symbionts (Celia and Brook) to another property of his. There, they are attacked but escape the fire. On the run, they seek friends of Shori's family called the Gordons in Northern California.
At the Gordon's commune, Shori takes on another symbiont named Joel, and arranges for Theodora to join them. Again, before Theodora joins them, they are attacked. However, because Shori can be awake during the day and only slightly sunburned when covered in clothing, they defeat the attackers.
When questioning a surviving assassin, Shori and her symbionts learn that the attacks are because she is not only black, but also because she is part human. Ina are controlling humans to kill during the day when most Ina are sleeping, and they believe the Ina that ordered the attacks are from the Silk family.
The leaders of the Gordon family decide to call a Council of Judgment. Theodora joins Shori and her other symbionts before the Council takes place. As Ina and symbionts arrive for the trial, Shori learns about her family and the history of the Ina. She also talks with Daniel, the Ina that her family had arranged for her to mate with when she comes of age.
The Council reveals the racism of the Silk family and, after the first night of the three-day trial, Theodora is murdered. Shori seeks her killer, and finds that the symbiont responsible has fled but was ordered to kill by an Ina named Katharine. Shori requests that Katharine be removed from the Council, and she is, along with one of Shori's advocates for balance.
At the end of the Council of Judgment, the ruling is in Shori's favor, against the Silks and the Ina who ordered Theodora be killed. Katharine attempts to kill the rest of Shori's symbionts and her, but Shori defends them and is shot. While Shori recovers, Katharine is executed.
And while Shori never remembers what happened before she woke in the woods, she has found her family and begins a new life.
Best part of story, including ending:
This novel is fantastic because it deals with love in a mature and interesting way as well as displays the destructive power of racism and hate.
Best scene in story:
One of the best scenes in the book was when one of Shori's older relatives explains the symbiotic relationship between humans and Ina--their interdependence and love.
Opinion about the main character:
Shori is strong despite her amnesia, passionate, and empathetic.