REVIEW by Jena: This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress Series #5) by Jeaniene Frost (@jeaniene_frost)
Danger waits on both sides of the grave.
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .
With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.
I am officially hitting that point where I am having a hard time reviewing this series. Not because I find anything wrong with it. VERY MUCH the opposite. I love it so much that I just want to start spewing verbal vomit all over the place about the things I love in the book and I can’t without giving frikkin spoilers. So I am going to do my best to push through and then get my ass to work planning out the Pure Textuality chat room so we can all discuss these books!!!
Surprise, surprise! I loved This Side of the Grave, the 5th installment in the Night Huntress Series. I am already about half way through the 6th installment (One Grave at a Time) and I am already starting to dread the ending because then I have to wait for the next one to be released. That, my friends, is Literary Limbo and I am about to kiss it head-on. Alas, I will have Once Burned, the Vlad Tapesh spin-off, to keep me company come June 26th though and I couldn’t be happier about that. He’s definitely one of my very favorite characters from this series.
Anyway, let’s chat a littler bit about This Side of the Grave.
One of the (MANY) things that I loved about this book is the humanity. Sure, I totally heart the vamps but sometimes, we need a reminder put in place to show us why the vamps of the story aren’t just mindless killing machines like they are basically designed to be. This Side of the Grave gives us that reminder. This books brings us backwards a bit to deal with the very human scenarios that make the Jeaniene Frost vamps so special. Loss of loved ones is one of those very human scenarios.
When dealing with the loss of a loved one in most (Not all! Don’t attack me!) vamp fiction, vampires are more likely to react to the loss with a blasé oh well, all humans die kind of attitude. That is something that I really cant stand but never really noticed it prior to reading the Jeaniene Frost novels. The vamps in her books feel that loss and understand it, rather than scoffing and looking down their nose at it. They understand and respect the fragility of the human existence and try to protect it when possible. These vamps are not cold creatures with no feeling and no heart. They love and they grieve. That fact alone probably makes me adore the Jeaniene Frost vamps so much more than almost any other vamp fiction I have ever read. I am not going to tell you who/what gets lost in this book but I assure you, you WILL cry. So have the damn tissue box handy….
Another human issue that they deal with in this book is racism. Unfortunately, racism is all around us on a daily basis. As a species, we have come so far yet we are still back in the powdered wig days on so many levels. I personally have never understood racism at all. I was raised in a very forward thinking household where I was taught from a very young age that no matter the skin color or heritage, we are all just people. In the end, we all bleed the same. This book is a parallel to our own world’s racist issues. Although it’s ghoul vs. vampire and not black vs white, it’s still the same idea – hatred bred out of misguided fear and bigotry. Not a message you’d normally see in a vampire romance novel but it’s a good one.
One last thing I want to mention in regards to the human issues is emotional baggage. Even though Cat isn’t exactly human anymore, she’s still got chips on her shoulder. And it’s high time to let some of them go. Cat made a huge leap of progress in Destined for an Early grave to shed all the crap she’s been lugging around with her for years but in This Side of the Grave, we get to witness her really get last of it out there and conquer it. Yes, I know that I look like I am yelling “YAY THERAPY”. I’m not. One of the things that I hate is how vamp fiction always takes a turn for the worse because the main character doesn’t simply say what they’re thinking. I know that they need to hang on to some things for the sake of a plot line but after a while, the readers are just FRUSTRASTED by the hang ups. *cough*southernvampiremysteries*cough Not naming names or anything…..
The scene in which Cat finally deals with her own shit is perfect and wonderful and you just want to reach into the book and give her a great big pat of the back. The scene really leaves you smiling.
So we are now five books into the series and it is safe to say that Jena is invested. I absolutely adore these characters! Cat and Bones (obviously!!), Spade and Denise, Mencheres and Kira, Ian, Vlad Tepesh, Fabian, Juan (the hysterically funny pervy man), and so so many more. I love the fact that Jeaniene Frost isn’t afraid to hand her characters a Happily Ever After. I read the Night Huntress World books before reading the Night Huntress series and now that I am this far in, I know exactly where First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1) and Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2) took place and coming into This Side of the Grave, I loved seeing them paired up. Call me a romantic or whatever but I am a lover of love and hot vamp characters finding a love that makes their existence seem worth trudging on into for a few millennia really makes this story. Cant wait to see where Once Burned takes Vlad!!!!
This book more prominently features a character who made a bit of a guest appearance in previous books, Marie Laveau. She’s one creepy bitch but I want to meet her soooooooo bad! Her first introduction scene with Cat is one of the funniest moments I have ever witnessed in a book. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch The Matrix prior to reading the book or the humor will be completely lost on you. Her scenes in This Side of the Grave are just as good but for different reasons. Let’s just say that this installment in the series gave me a new found respect for and fear of her.
Overall I am giving This Side of the Grave 5 stars!!! That’s 5 for 5 so far! Best record of any series I have reviewed yet and worth every single moment!!
This book delivers on every level! Well written mystery, great lore, LOTS of action and some perfectly places lemons. As I said, have the tissues ready. You’re going to need them in a big way.