Series: Night Owls #1
Published by Ace on February 25th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Night Owls book store is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren as possible. She’s lived that life, and the price she paid was far too high to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural werewolf-like beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safe keeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors…
So, the kind publishers at Ace sent me an Arc of Grave Matters, which is the second book in this series. Can’t really dive into the second book without at least reading the first! I hadn’t heard of this author before the second book fell in my lap, and it looks like this is really her only series. It looks like she has a few short stories and a standalone, but overall, she hasn’t published much. I have to say, though, that I absolutely adored her writing and voice.
Unfortunately, the book covers several points of view, and despite that they all don’t have a very unique voice, but it’s still easy to pick out who’s head you’re currently in.
The book itself actually isn’t that long – just shy of three hundred pages. Despite that, there is plenty of action and back story and I found myself getting way too attached to characters who were barely mentioned. The world-building offers standard vampires and unfortunately, with that, vampire politics, but it wasn’t spun in a way that annoyed me. There’s also warlocks and other sects of magic users. The succubi were adorably contradictory. But, the book also offers a preternatural creature that I’ve not seen before and would have considered fabricated by the author. The Creeps or Jackals, as they’re referred to, are the main antagonist. They seem somewhat werewolfish, but also do magic and are also undead. There was also the mention of there being werewolves as well? So, the Jackals themselves are some weird hybrid of vampire, warlock and werewolf. Either way, the world building around them is sound. They have weaknesses and they’re not overpowered. They’re just the right sort of interesting to make it thrilling.
The first character we’re introduced to, Elly, is a nineteen year old orphan who was raised by a monster hunting zealot. Unfortunately, he’s been killed, and the artifact that he was killed over is now in Elly’s hands. She does what needs to and tries to find help, because, honestly, she doesn’t have that great of decision making skills. This eventually puts the artifact, a book written in Jackal, about Jackal magic, in Valerie’s book store.
Val is a vampire. She and her Renfield (more positive, less negative), Chaz, run a book store in a small college town. They stay out of vampire politics and Jackal issues and live the quiet life. Val used to hunt Jackals but has some serious PTSD over it, and her dealings with the nearby Boston vampires left her feeling salty. Good reason, too, considering one of the vampires tried to steal Chaz away from her and almost killed him. Unfortunately, their want to live the quiet life is shattered when that book shows up. Their employee, a young college kid who goes by the name of Justin, decided to poke at the evil book and ended up under it’s spell. This ended up breaking the book, leaving bits of it incomplete, which only proved to make the Jackals angry.
Most of what Val and company do from there on out, is attempt to save their own skin from large waves of attackers. They eventually recruit Elly’s brother, Cavale, and two sexy but deadly Succubi by the names of Lia and Sunny. At some point, Chaz is captured and finds himself in a house full of Jackals and their minions. Some of the minions are held their against their will, and those might possibly be Elly’s parents, but we don’t know that for certain.
Anyway, it all culminates in a showdown outside of Val’s bookstore. Interestingly, the author actually made note of official authority and bystanders. Usually this is brushed off with special tactic teams or just ignored. I’m glad that she took the time to address that detail.
Also, I should note, it seems like I’ve been missing the urban fantasy front. It was always one of my favorite genres, but I sort of fell into an infinite loop of young adult science fiction and fantasy. Maybe, I need to dance around in the adult book section for a bit. It’s refreshing and interesting and they don’t brush over the more gory details. Anyway, I had a lot of fun reading this book and I’m actually pretty excited to jump into the next one.