Review: This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress series #5) by Jeaniene Frost
Jeaniene Frost’s latest offering in the Night Huntress paranormal romance series (more affectionately known as Cat & Bones) gets the whole gang back together as they try to defuse some very nasty political violence & insidious rumormongoring, and prevent an all-out vamps vs. ghouls undead civil war. This novel has everything fans of the Night Huntress world have come to love and expect from the series: quick wit, explosive action, a spunky kick-ass heroine (Cat), a strong sexy & deadly leading man (Bones), and Ms. Frost’s trademark unique & inventive passionate Cat & Bones moments.
- Title: This Side of the Grave
- Series: The Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series – book #5 (Night Huntress World-inclusive book #7)
- Author: Jeaniene Frost
- Prominent Characters: Cat, Bones, Vlad, Mencheres, Fabian
- Recommended reader age: 17+
- Sexual content level: Moderate
Even though Cat has been a full vampire for a few months now, Apollyon is still trying to use her as a figurehead to start a bloody war between the vampire and ghoul nations. Cat, Bones, & crew have to find a way to take out Apollyon without inciting the very war they’re trying to prevent. Cat also has to deal with her Uncle’s devastating terminal illness and her mother’s newfound aspirations, in addition to leaning to use and perfect some very advanced new powers she’s recently acquired. With threats coming from all sides, and the passion between Cat & Bones as combustible as ever, our favorite paranormal couple is in for a wild ride.
One of the things I like most about Cat, aside from being a strong, kick-ass chic with fangs, is that after 5 books (7 if you count the NHWorld books) and 8 years of battles, political standoffs, and hanging around some of the oldest, most powerful creatures on earth, she’s still a little socially awkward. Her irreverent modern slang dialogue and off-the-cuff reactions make for some unforgettably fun scenes! I mean, honestly, who can identify with a gal who’s got an unlimited lifespan, a battle-honed figure, frequently gains ridiculously awesome new powers, AND has a gorgeous, talented lover? She’s got to have something to make her a little more human… ok, maybe not “human” so much as vulnerable… and Ms. Frost has done an excellent job keepin’ it real. =)
Mencheres, however, isn’t really real… if you know what I mean. 😉 Aside from possessing enough power to support a small nation and having one of the most stoic countenances of any of the NH crew, he’s a freaking ex-Egyptian pharoah! Cat has been uncomfortable around Mencheres since she first met him, and I have to agree that he’s a little creepy sometimes… in a lovable kind of way, of course. *wink* It was really nice to see Mencheres acting a little more loose and normal, and there are a couple of delightful scenes between him and Kira.
Something that did annoy me a little with this book was the frequent repetition of past story details. Now granted, most readers probably aren’t as intent on story details or focused on (read: obsessed with) re-reading a series before the newest book is released as I am, but still I didn’t feel that the dialogue put in to catch up new readers was really believable from a conversational viewpoint. If you’ve been through so much with someone over such a long period of time, you generally don’t need to tell each other how you met or how this event or that went down. It just felt awkward to me. Instead of having this as dialogue between the characters, I’d have preferred it to be explained as a narration in Cat’s first-person sections.
That said, pretty much everything else about this book was AWESOME! And Chapter 21… OOOOOOOH MMMMYYYYYYY!! I’d heard about Chapter 21 before I read this book, so I was expecting it to be memorable (and boy, is it!). It’s been compared to Chapter 32 of One Foot In the Grave (NH #2), which I’m not going to spoil for those of you who haven’t read it yet, and I have to say that it’s definitely in the same category of did-they-really-just-do-that. I still think Ch. 32 of OFitG was more fleshed out (no pun intended =D) and extensive, but I really enjoyed Ch. 21 of this one as well. Ms. Frost has a real talent for writing gripping, passionate love scenes for all sorts of encounters- from the standard steamy stuff, venturing into a little BDSM.
OH! Did anyone else catch the little by-play with Ian and Veritas?! I suspect a new Night Huntress World pairing in the making… *grin* Still no new mentions of Timothy or Cain though. Oh Jeaniene, you are such a TEASE!
You might also like…
If you like Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series), you might also like the Cassandra Palmer Pythia series by Karen Chance or the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. The Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris is also somewhat similar in its early books, but becomes too politically mired in the later ones to keep up the fast pace that the Night Huntress series is known for. The Cassie Palmer books are a crazy-fun trip through chaos, danger, time-travel, & vamp/mage politics, with a little romance on the side. If Cat & Bones are your favorite couple, you’ll probably also like Cassie/Mircea/Pritkin (yeah I know that sounds weird- read it and you’ll see what I mean!) and several of the Black Dagger Brotherhood pairings.
Note: I didn’t put ALL of the fun one-liners in here. I wanted you guys to have a few things to discover on your own. Twilight fans, be on the lookout for an easter egg that is NOT mentioned below (although other reviewers have spoiled the goods already, so don’t go reading reviews if you don’t want to know what it is)…
A day in the life of a half-breed vampire dictator…
“But if Apollyon is behind these attacks, we need a way to get to him without looking like we’re being mindlessly antagonistic. Otherwise…”
Bones didn’t have to finish the sentence. Otherwise, Apollyon will have more fuel for the rumors that I’m seeking to be some sort of vampiric Stalin, I mentally finished. Right, because that’s what I put on my To Do list every morning. Brush teeth. Wash hair. Rule undead world with an iron fist.
How not to party-crash a graveyard…
Most people didn’t visit cemetaries for cheery reasons, so it wasn’t a place where striking up impromptu conversations was the norm. Not to mention it would take a really ballsy person to go up to a group gathered around a gravesite with the opening line of “So what are we talking about, anyway?”
Vlad, on learning new skills…
“Less bitching… more learning,” Vlad grated. Then he closed his eyes as if dismissing me. “I know, I’m delicious. Nummy… nummy,” he muttered to the remnants feasting on him.
Bones, on the Cat’s reunion with a former ghostly acquaintance <altered to avoid spoilers>…
“This is the sod?” Bones started down the porch stairs even as <the ghost> began to edge away. “Come back here, you scurvy little-“
“Bones, don’t!” I interrupted, not wanting him to start using slurs that might offend the other living-impaireds gathered here.
He stopped, giving a last glare to <the ghost> while mouthing, You. Me. Exorcist, before returning to my side.
Explaining modern weaponry to a 19th century ghost…
“Machine guns?” I asked, miming holding one and making a series of rapid staccato noises.
Bones’s mouth twitched, but he dipped his head so I wouldn’t see his clear amusement over my “GI Jane does Pictionary” imitation.
Cat has finally come to terms with who and what she is, and has publicly accepted it. She’s come full circle from the girl we first met in Halfway to the Grave… from hating & killing vampires, to eating them and marrying one. This time around it’s her turn to listen to her friends and family spout the same excuses and “human” rhetoric that she used to shove at Bones. She’s finally starting to understand the frustration she’s put him through and the deep well of patience and faith in her that he’s always had. I do love a heroine who can be sensitive and vulnerable while still kicking ass and taking names!
With the threat of Apollyon gone, having been the looming Big Bad for the last few books, it will be interesting to see what Ms. Frost throws at our favorite paranormal couple next. I hope she takes the track of “new and different” as opposed to “bigger and badder”… the former will keep the series fresh and fun while the latter would, I fear, hasten it to an early grave.
Cat & Bones are a powerhouse… as a couple, as a fighting team, and as leaders of their extensive undead “family” line. Oh, and don’t miss the preview excerpt from the next Cat & Bones book (One Grave at a Time) at the end of this one. “Fall 2011” is a long time to wait for the next installment, and I can’t wait!
|4.25 fangs: BITE IT!|
This novel was almost all I wanted it to be, and that’s some pretty high expectations to live up to! The action is a little slow in parts, but still enjoyable. If you haven’t read the first 4 (plus 2 World books, Spade and Mencheres), I’d recommend reading them first, as there’s a ton of history and a fairly large cast of characters brought in at the climax of this story. Even without reading the other novels, though, this will still be a good read, and you’ll get to see what all the “Cat & Bones” fuss is about. =)