Title: This Side of the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Page Count: 384 pages (although I read my copy on Kindle)
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Copy for review was purchased by me
50 words or less: Cat and Bones get out of their own way in this installment and unite, not only as a couple, but as a force against a ghoul uprising when Cat's new abilities threaten to upset the balance between the ghoul and vampire world.
*Warning: this review contains spoilers for previous books in the series.*
I am proud to say that This Side of the Grave is now my favorite book in the Night Huntress series, and not just because it's the most recent one and therefore the most fresh in my mind. No, the same elements that seem to have, for lack of a better word, disappointed so many other readers- the focus on the relationship, the less intense bad guy, the seemingly slower pace- were actually the elements that made this story my favorite.
I think the reason I enjoyed this story so much was that it resolved and soothed a lot of issues I had with the last two books in the series. The biggest issues, for me, revolve around the drama that permeated the relationship between Cat and Bones up until this book. For me, the conflict and pseudo-breakup in Destined For an Early Grave felt forced. Very, very forced. I mean, come on people, Cat thought Bones was DEAD in At Grave's End/! Vlad had to literally talk her off the edge in her grief, and she had to prepare herself for having to take on the mantle of leadership that Bones had left behind, and she was given a second chance that she didn't even know existed, and yet these two STILL managed to seriously cock things up to the point of despair just prior to Cat fully completing her change. For such an explosive couple, both of them had such serious trust and relationship issues that it seemed like they would never a) learn from the past and b) get over this stuff. A new conflict was definitely needed at this point, and the presence of a united front between Cat and Bones was critical, otherwise frankly, at this point the series would be talking in circles.
The fact that Cat especially did learn from the past and did get over stuff in This Side of the Grave made me forgive and forget all the relationship drama that came before. Cat is still fiercely independent, headstrong and stubborn (which is why we love her, let's be honest) and Bones is still extremely protective, devoted, and used to being in charge (which is why we love him, let's be honest) but they are able to use these personality traits to make their relationship stronger instead of constantly being in turmoil.
In a way, I think the relationship between these two being so much stronger than it was in past installments is part of what made the conflict with Apollyon and the ghoul uprising seem less intense- it's amazing how much you can get done when you're not fighting two battles at the same time! I enjoyed the interplay with Marie Laveau and am interested to see how the new goodies she bestowed on Cat will play out in future books.
Overall this book is the perfect bridge between the angsty-yet-still-delicious, running around like crazy people dramafests that were the first four books (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE them, love them love them love them,) and hopefully some new adventures and shenanigans in the upcoming books. We have four more Night Huntress books to look forward to as well as at least two books in a new series starring Vlad, so there are a whole lot more opportunities for awesome things to happen.
Overall Grade: A
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