Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress #1
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Category: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy Romance
Buffy/Spike…er… I mean Cat/Bones
Author’s Website: http://www.jeanienefrost.com/
Source: Personal purchased copy, ebook.
Rating: 3.5 FULL MOONS
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.
This is one of those series I’ve had on my TBR for years — you know, one of those that all of your UF reading friends say you just HAVE to read, that ends up on everybody’s all-time favorites list, that you see recommended everywhere. Half the blogs I read have some variation of “I *heart* Bones” buttons on them somewhere. So of course, when I sat down to start tackling my UF/PNR TBR, the Night Huntress Series came up first.
I began by reading .5 in the series — a short story called RECKONING, and while I found Bones a little grating in his pseudo-Spike imitation, the story was compelling enough that I didn’t really mind. Well, during the entire first half (maybe more) of HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, my jaw and head were killing me from how hard I was gritting my teeth. OH MY GOD could this book have started out as more of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Ripoff? Seriously! All Frost did was change
Buffy Cat’s hair to red, made her half-vampire, take away the Scooby Gang, and VIOLA! “Original” Character. And every time Spike Bones opened his mouth, it was like nails on a chalkboard — every. single. word. was exactly what Spike would say, in exactly the way he would say it. I came SERIOUSLY close to just deleting the book off my Kindle FOREVER. I adore Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ma’am, and you are no Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Which actually works in your favor if we’re talking about the last 2.5 seasons.)
Things started to change about 60% of the way through. I don’t know if someone pointed out the above to Ms. Frost or what, but the similarities eased a little, Bones stopped being QUITE such an annoying Spike rip-off, and both main characters actually started gaining some life and personality of their own. The story became intriguing, and while I can’t count myself a fan YET, by the end I was curious to see where this was going to go. An excellent comeback, I must say, and not one easily achieved — I tend to be HYPER-sensitive about BtVS, and I have a complicated, ambivalent relationship with Spike, so… if things hadn’t gone the way they did in this story, Frost could have completely lost me.
BUT she didn’t, so how about some positivity? Good writing style, great action, a premise that was pretty damn creepy and a vampire mythology that makes me want to know more, plus curiosity about the heroine and hero’s individual backstories that could keep me coming back for more for a few books to come. But most of all is that trope that I can never resist: true love held back by circumstances, the ultimate good of one or both partners having to be placed before the desire of the other partner to be with them. It made me hate and love Cat at the same time, and very invested in seeing how these two would beat the odds. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I wasn’t at all sorry to see a certain “terrible” event in the story happen. I hate mean, judgemental people, and Cat’s Mom is one. Whether it’s justified or not, it tastes bad on my tongue. Frankly, I either want to see Cat’s Mom change her mind about Bones, or get locked in a ghoul’s basement on a permanent basis.
Speaking of ghouls, I love that in this universe, they can be good and honorable. There’s something very sad about them, and I like that.
So in the end, Frost overcame a SERIOUS deficit at the beginning of the book and has laid the foundation for a good series. I’m already on to 1.5 (yummy Chance… mmmm.) and plan to keep going. An excellent outing overall — only loses batty moons because of the things I mentioned in the beginning.
OOOOO – Five Full Moons: OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK GO GET IT RIGHT NOW!
OOOO – Four Full Moons: I REALLY liked this. Well worth reading, and possibly re-reading!
OOO – Three Full Moons: Good! Worth a read.
OO – Two Full Moons: Not really to my taste, but not terrible.
O – One Full Moon: Has serious flaws that make it difficult to read and review fairly.
I’ll also be using half-moons as necessary. I should make it clear that I do review books on a number of levels, emotional and structural being the major ones. I might read a book with serious grammar and spelling flaws, but it could still win my heart due to characterization or story. Or a perfectly structured novel might leave me feeling nothing, and won’t get a great review. I DO always try to find something positive to say about a book, or I won’t say anything much at all. I DO NOT engage in mean-spirited snark, although I do give constructive criticism. As a writer, I can’t stand the former, and always appreciate the latter, even if it’s “negative.”Hope this makes sense. Any questions, comments, or vague misgivings are welcome in the comments!