Squirrel favorites is a biweekly book review feature where I talk about the books I’ve read, reread and will be reading a couple more times – my favorites.
This week’s Squirrel Favourite is not just one book, but a whole series – The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. Since it is a series of books, this ‘review’ won’t really have the review format of Good/Bad/Squirrel as it seems inappropriate to do that for a bunch of books at a time. And since I love the series as a whole. But, in time, I might add separate reviews for every book in the series (whenever that happens, this post will definitely receive links to those reviews).
The Night Huntress series consists of seven books:
#1 Halfway to the Grave: Goodreads
#2 One Foot in the Grave: Goodreads
#3 At Grave’s End: Goodreads
#4 Destined for an Early Grave: Goodreads
#5 This Side of the Grave: Goodreads
#6 One Grave at a Time: Goodreads
#7 Up from the Grave: Goodreads
There are also novellas and two stand-alone novels in the same universe with some Cat&Bones side characters as main characters. And then there’s the Night Prince series which is set in the same universe but is focused on everyone’s favourite ‘fire-cracker’ Vlad 😀 Books with Ian as the main character are also planned (that is, he will have his own series, just like Vlad). And the Night Huntress series is finished, nothing more after these 7 books, so no waiting for the next one, if you decide to join Cat&Bones on their journey.
How I came upon the books
I first read Halfway to the Grave when I was in high school, 11th grade, I think. Every year in high school each student was supposed to create a research paper on any topic about anything. And that year I decided to make it together with my cousin who is 6 months younger than me, but was in a class a year lower than me (that is, she was in 10th grade). And it was the time when Twilight popularity was on the rise, so we wanted to make something around that. In the end, our paper was about the popularity of vampires in American (as in, book by American authors) literature. For our research, we read around 25 books with vampires in them. And Halfway to the Grave was one of them. At that time I had found the book online or something, but later I got the first three books through a special order (that was surprisingly cheap!) with a bookstore I like. And later I had found The Book Depository, so the last two books in the series I got by preordering them.
What I love about the books
Honestly, I can’t even name all the things I love about this series or even why I love it. Since at least 5 years have passed since I first read the first book in the series, I don’t remember all the things that pulled me in at first. But here goes a list of everything that attracts me to the books now and probably attracted me to them then.
- I like the genre. I’m not a big expert on genres, nor do I really look for books in a set genre, but I like me some paranormal/urban fantasy, I suppose. Whatever people like to say about vampires and how they suddenly became all the rage after Twilight, vampire books are fun. And, if I remember correctly from that research paper I mentioned, there were a lot of vampire books even before Twilight – all Twilight’s popularity did was bring all the books to light. At least that’s how I see it. Oh, wow, this point seems to have strayed a bit from Night Huntress 😀
- So, getting back on track and kind of building on the point of liking vampires – I really like the mythology in this series. I like how vampires have their own version of Bible, that is, they believe that Cain was the first vampire (vampirism was God’s punishment for slaying Abel). And let’s not forget that ghouls also have a similar belief. Imagine the religious debates they might have 😀 The characteristics of vampires are also well done. Although they are described as noticeably more beautiful than any normal human, they don’t sparkle and have some drawbacks and can be scary at times. In my opinion, the vampire world is well fleshed out.
- While it might not be looked at as a merit of the author or the books, I just have to say that I absolutely love the audiobooks. The narrator, Tavia Gilbert, is amazing. I’ve gushed about it in some comments on other blogs and probably will continue to do that, because I absolutely love what she does. Now, whenever I read the first Cat&Bones book, I often read some passages the way they are said in the audiobooks. The greatest example would be Bones, I think. The voice T. Gilbert has given him is just ^.^ “No.I don’t think you’re pretty. I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” This is just one of many sentences that melt my insides when I listen to the audiobook.
- There are so many jokes and innuendos and hilarity. Be prepared for “tongue baths”, “Lucifer’s bouncing balls” and various other (not so) subtle bedroom allusions. Get ready for “droolers anonymous”, “boyfriends stuffed in closets”, worms shitting on corpses and never coming back once going dead. There are so many funny situations and a lot of them make me laugh out loud. And to me that is important.
- There are many fun characters. Both the main couple, Cat&Bones, and other various vamps, humans, ghouls and ghosts they meet along the way. Like, Rodney, the ghoul (“All hail the dragon slayer!”) or Timmy and his naiveté, or Winston who we meet for just a moment but the situation is hilarious. There’s also Mencheres who I, just like Cat, didn’t like at first, but then he shows more of himself. Ah, and Juan, you gotta love his never ending hitting on Cat.
- The steaminess. The love scenes. Oh, wow. I think Night Huntress was the first series I’ve read that had such explicit sex scenes. At first they made me a bit uncomfortable (which might be unsurprising at the age of 16 or 17, when I first read Halfway to the Grave), but then I got used to them, began to like parts of them and what some of them brought to the story and characters. And, yet again, I have to return to the audiobooks, because I can’t imagine how weird it must be do narrate sex scenes, especially in different voices etc. But those are greatly executed. I mean, I tend to get butterflies in my stomach at some love-filled moments.
- For most of the time, the plot of the books is interesting, I was drawn in, although in the later books it got a bit stale, I guess. But that is my opinion, and I don’t want to get in much detail on it here. Let’s leave that for individual reviews. But there is definitely an overall progression during the series, although there isn’t really one great overarching plot that goes through all seven books, but some arches span more than one book.
Overall, I simply LOVE this series. Halfway to the Grave is one of the books that brought me into reading in English, that showed me it is not that hard to read in a foreign language (Latvian is my native tongue). I think that HttG could be between the first 5-10 books I read in English, they also got me more into vampire books and reading again. I’ve always been looked at as the reading type in school, but in high school with Twilight and HttG and some other books it resurfaced. And now I read mainly in English. There just aren’t that many Latvian authors that I like and, as I’ve grown to notice, Latvian translations of books are not always the best, so reading books in their original language seems like a logical option (that also broadens the choice of books). Oh, another unconnected rant. Well, at least you’ll get to know me better.
If you have anything to add in you love (or hate) of the Night Huntress series, I’d love to hear it!