Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Audio Speed: 1x
Series: Night Huntress #5-#6 (Night Huntress Universe #7-#8)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
NOTE: These reviews may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series.
After a two book hiatus from Cat and Bones’ adventures, the Night Huntress universe returns to its roots with a first person narrative told from heroine Cat’s POV. Chronologically, the book takes place after the two spin off stories, and having read them will fill in a lot of backstory that is assumed in This Side of the Grave. The story picks up with the ghoul uprising lead by Apollyon, a ghoul bent on killing Cat and attacking the vampire nation. Masterless vampires are being picked off by ghouls and our dynamic duo turn to the ghoul queen of New Orleans for some hints as to what is going on. Soon the pair are deep into the ghoul uprising, trying to predict where they will next strike.
I absolutely enjoyed this story! This Side of the Grave is hands-down the best book in the series so far. The book genuinely embraces its urban fantasy roots and gives readers a smart adventure, full of action, romance, and humor, not to mention sexy good guys and dangerous bad guys. The story is well executed, with Cat having to use both brains and brawn to stop her enemies. The fight scenes are kick-ass, but there are so many tender moments as well. I love how Cat struggles with her growing powers, but gets through it because she’s tough and determined.
Some of my biggest issues with the earlier stories have all been addressed in This Side of the Grave. Previously, the pair didn’t work together, letting jealousy, deception, and stubbornness get in the way of a healthy relationship. This time around, the pair is a team, sharing in the ups and downs, shouldering responsibilities, and genuinely loving one another. They are a tight-knit pair, considering the other and their relationship before decisions. They listen to one another and the book is so much better for it.
Additionally, I am happy that Cat finally deals with once-friend Tate and his inexcusable behaviors. This is something that should have happened 4 books ago! I enjoyed seeing Cat back with her old team, and some of the changes going on are downright fun! I hope we see more interaction with the secret government group in future books.
As I mentioned, there are also some poignant moments in This Side of the Grave. Not only has Cat matured in her romantic relationship, but she has to deal with some of her platonic relationships as well. No spoilers, but if you’ve been reading the series, you know that something is going on with someone close to Cat. This is handled with utmost care and attention, creating some of the most touching scenes in the series.
The narration by Tavia Gilbert just seems to be getting better and better. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating that Ms. Gilbert excels when it comes to the non-verbal sounds like sigh, breathlessness, etc. She injects the words with the emotions of the moment, capturing the feelings of Cat marvelously. Other than still being annoyed by Justine and Tate’s voices, I thoroughly enjoyed the narration.
Overall, This Side of the Grave is a wonderful story. My only complaint is that sometimes Cat’s inner monologues run a bit long; however, this hardly gives me pause. Cat has matured, making her adventures so much more enjoyable. Her humor and interactions with friends such as Vlad, Mencheres, and Ian are the icing on the cake. If you were like me, and unsure about continuing this series after the fourth title, I strongly encourage you to keep going. It’s worth it!
Onc Grave at a Time is another excellent installment in the Night Huntress series. Now that Cat and Bones have gotten past their constant relationship issues and work as a team, I feel that the stories have only strengthened in content and plot. This time around, Cat and Bones are working to capture an evil ghost who can materialize annually on Halloween. While alive, Heinrich Kramer was a misogynistic witch-hunter, who now selects three “witches” to torment and burn alive each year. Additionally, Cat’s work is hampered by the new government bureaucrat who has taken over Don’s role as leader of her former covert team.
Overall, the storyline involving Kramer’s ghost was exciting and interesting. I enjoyed how the author brings in a historical figure as the primary bad guy, and what a baddie he is! Dealing with a ghost who can manifest flesh and torment victims by destroying property and even physically harming them is something Cat and Bones have never faced. Cat can’t use her vampire strength to defeat a ghost, therefore, she’s got to think outside the box. I also enjoyed the introduction of a new character who functioned as a humorous sidekick.
The storyline following changes with Cat’s former team was also intriguing, but it’s not over. Clearly newcomer Jason Madigan is up to something, presumably no good, and Ms. Frost doesn’t let readers know all the details. She has done a great job of introducing the changes and letting Madigan worm his way under Cat’s skin. I look forward to finding out more.
Once again, I have much love for the level of maturity that has developed in Cat and Bones’ relationship. They work as a team, making for a wonderful love story. I have total respect for both characters as they consciously make the effort to do what is best for the pair, and not run at problems in the heat of the moment. Additional, I’ve grown to love Cat, who is an equal opportunity bada$$ – it doesn’t matter if she’s after an evil spirit or a crazed human female. If the character has done wrong, Cat wants to set it right.
My only complaint is that the author introduces a ghost-hunting team that helps Cat and Bones, only to have them drop out of the story. I feel that there should have been some closure with both the team and some of the other humans Cat and Bones help. It’s been drilled into this reader that you don’t let human’s know about vampires, and without the closure I expected, it felt like Cat and Bones got really sloppy.
Once again, I find Tavia Gilbert’s narration to be impeccable and spot on. There isn’t much more I can add that I haven’t already stated in previous reviews of the series.
Story Rating: A-