Teenage actors Max Saber and Kylie Bevy got along perfectly, both on their paranormal adventure show "Strangeville" and behind the scenes. But, after their show is canceled they go their separate ways, only then starting to wonder if they were more than friends.
When Kylie invites Max to visit her family's hometown of Windfall, the sleepy New England town that partially inspired their show, he jumps at the chance to meet with her again. Can they puzzle out their feelings for one another? Or the mysterious happenings going in Windfall?
Followed by a novella and short story collection titled An Otter-Body Experience.
Tropes present in this work:
- Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Windfall is built on top of an abandoned silver mine, some of the tunnels were repurposed as sewers (though Kylie and Max try to avoid those).
- Alpha Bitch: Cindy, Kylie's Windfall arch-nemesis, was one in more than one sense of the term back in high school. Now that the social structure she dominated no longer exists she's taking out her frustrations on the local celebrity.
- Audience Surrogate: Max, as a newcomer to Windfall who needs local things explained, and Kylie as she uncovers her family’s journals. Appropriately they both played that role on “Strangeville”.
- The Big Damn Kiss: The realization that monsters were real, and surviving an encounter with a spiked creature that eats feral deer, was enough to break through Kylie and Max's UST.
- The Cassandra: Kylie's character on "Strangeville", the appropriately named "Cassie", was a psychic tagalong kid whose visions were dismissed by the older characters for the first two seasons. Which might be why Kylie doesn't even try to convince anyone in authority of the real monsters.
- The City vs. the Country: Max grew up on a farm in Montana while Kylie came from an ancient New England manor to Hollywood. It gives them a marked difference in outlooks and comforts.
- Disappeared Dad: Laura Bevy mentions that Kylie's father is "raising another kid in another state" once.
- Either/Or Offspring: Different species actually can't interbreed, but through IVF and gamete donation it's possible for interspecies couples to have kids genetically related to one parent. As seen with the cat and rabbit brother-sister pair Shane and Sarah.
- Fake Nationality:In-Universe: Max's "Strangeville" character, Serge, was a Russian exchange student with a cheesy fake accent. He's actually from Montana.
- Fictional Social Network: Max is on a network called "Howl" which allows users to post anonymous messages to every other user in the area. Presumably to allow canines a less obtrusive alternative to actual howling.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: The titular novella in An Otter-Body Experience features Max and Kylie switching bodies due to a pair of glowing alien bracelets.
- Furry Reminder: Little things get thrown in throughout the novel. Otter houses tend to have indoor pools, canines have an app that substitutes for howling, etc.
- Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: It takes witnessing and narrowly escaping a monster attack to break through Max and Kylie's UST.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Max is over six foot six, Kylie is on the short side of five feet. Hilarity ensues in Otter-Body Experience.
- Idealized Sex: The masturbatory fantasies Max and Kylie have of each other before they work up the courage to get together. But, once they have sex for real it's as awkward and clumsy as you would expect of two virgins.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Lampshaded when Laura pulls Max aside and gives him a writing prompt: “single mom has a chat with her daughter’s boyfriend before leaving them alone for a weekend.” He comes up with a threat to ship him back to Montana naked, shaved, and tied up with seaweed.
- Interspecies Romance: Max is a Siberian Husky, Kylie is an otter. There's also two minor characters whose parents are a cat and a rabbit.
- Lovecraft Country: New England, check, supernatural, check, long-established family with dark secrets, check.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Max, having endured the spotlight as an actor, now aspires to write screenplays instead. Kylie’s mother Laura, head writer of “Strangeville”, periodically gives him advice.
- My Beloved Smother: Max's mother markedly didn't approve of his becoming a child actor, specifically his leaving the pack for months at a time. She's still very slow to come to grips with her son's maturity.
- Oh, Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us!: Kylie discovered the "Strangeville" fanfiction community during the last season. There were a lot of fics shipping her character with Max's, she saved a few of them.
- One-Word Title
- Playful Otter: Kylie has her moments, though more often reserved for her younger cousins.
- Room Full of Crazy: The Bevys have a history of obsession with the paranormal and occult, and institutionalization. Kylie makes a "Wall of Crazy" to try and puzzle out what made so many of her ancestors, most recently a great uncle who committed arson, go nuts.
- Show Within a Show: “Strangeville” seems to have been a modern fantasy/paranormal adventure show along the lines of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “X-Files”. Episode summaries are used as chapter headers.
- Stock Animal Diet: Otters loving seafood becomes somewhat of a running gag. What with Kylie's family heirlooms including sushi knives and a cache of fish sauce, while one of her uncles makes seaweed beer and the family reunion is a crab fest.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Well, Windfall doesn't exactly keep the supernatural happenings a secret, so much as attempt to cash in on it so much that half the souvenir shops are run by residents who don't believe it.
- UST: Throughout the first half of the book Kylie is too wary of ruining her friendship with Max to confess her feelings for him, while Max thinks Kylie is dealing with too many uncomfortable revelations about her family history to want to deal with a relationship at the time. It takes an encounter with a monster for them to finally kiss.
- You Didn't Ask: Kylie's coworker at the curio shop, Shane, already knew about the extradimensional scavengers in town, he just never told her before she found out herself.