I finished Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia in record time this weekend, and I've confirmed that Carey is no longer a one-world author for me. I loved Santa Olivia.
First off, it had Carey's great writing, great plot, and great characters. But beyond that, it had Carey's great imagination. The world she built was unique—a post-plague world unlike any I've seen before. She captured the desperation, the hope, the will to live, and the changes that would happen in the event of a plague.
But my very favorite thing was how well she created Loup, the main character, a daughter of a genetically enhanced man and a normal woman. Loup gets the characteristics of her father, a man whose genes were bred with animals, the equivalent of a science-made werewolf (who doesn't change with a full moon, but is a blend of animal and human).
Most authors have treated this animal-human mix as a human with superior strength (and usually a superior/larger sex drive). They've not really thought through the differences between human and animals beyond those of a physical level, and what it would be like for a human to have animal reactions to life. Carey, however, gave Loup a lot of the emotional properties of an animal, along with the enhanced physical capabilities, and it made her a fascinating character to read. I highly recommend this novel.