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The Night Huntress Series

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The Night Huntress Series of books is a set of seven novels and a novella detailing the story of Cat Crawfield a young girl who hunts vampires.  She has been told all her life that vampires are evil and have no place in the world and need to be eradicated. The first twist in the story is that she herself is ‘half vampire’.  She is unique, a rarer than rare phenomenon, after her father – a newly turned vampire allegedly raped and fed from her mother. 

 

Due to her heritage, she can pick out vampires who can blend in with humans and she lures them out and then kills them, this plan has been working well for her until she meets Bones, a wily, ruthless and strong vampire who she comes across, she is unable to kill him and they form an unlikely alliance as he isn’t so different from her, he is a Bounty Hunter who tracks down fellow vampires with a price on their heads and kills them.  A grudging respect grows and eventually they fall in love, and he shows her that not all vampires are evil, but there are other aspects of this story which are unique and nothing like I have ever read before, for example, the top-secret government-funded military facility which knows about the existence of vampires and other supernatural creatures and has pretty much the same attitude as Cat’s mother towards vampires until Cat is manipulated and blackmailed into joining them and she gradually shows them another way.

 

It is an original and refreshing take on the traditional vampire story and the usual rules don’t apply either, in these stories, Cat discovers that most of the rules surrounding vampires are myth, for example Vampires can go out in the daytime, but they are weaker in sunlight and prone to getting sunburnt, new vampires actually pass out at dawn until they acclimatise to their new status, in these stories vampires are not averse to garlic and can eat normally but generally choose not to as food is tasteless to them and they only do it to ‘blend in’ with humans.  Vampires can enter your home without being invited and wooden stakes aren’t fatal.  The only way to kill a vampire is decapitation or a silver stake to the heart – but which has to be twisted to be fatal, something which Cat uses to great effect to get information out of vampires, as they become very accommodating and docile with a silver blade pressed into their hearts and the slightest movement could finish them.  There is also a hierarchy of vampires, which is explained, the older the vampire the bigger the aura, (a kind of manifestation of their powers which alerts other vampires of who they are dealing with) but a vampire can cloak their aura so they appear to be weaker and newer than they actually are. Also the older the vampire the more special powers they can acquire, for example, mind reading, flying, telekinesis etc.  A Master Vampire is a vampire who has sired his own line and at the bottom of the heap are masterless vampires who have been turned and abandoned or whose sires have then died they are vulnerable to being abused by other vampires unless they are welcomed into the line of another master.

 

I personally think it’s a cracking series, the characters have depth and layers and the vampires are portrayed as ruthless and manipulative and even the love story has an edge to it and many surprising moments not to mention a compelling storyline, there is a dry humour which runs through the stories and yet there are also some incredibly moving moments and of course a fair amount of blood, killing and gruesomeness. Each novel is a complete story but there are references to things which have happened previously and each book seems to start to set the scene for the next book to come so they could be read individually but to fully understand what is going on it is best to read them in order.

 

From this series came a number of spin-off novellas and a spin-off series surrounding other supporting characters, which I have also read and I would strongly recommend that anyone who likes these stories to give them a go.

 

The Full set of novels (in the reading order) are:

HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE
ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE
AT GRAVE’S END
DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE
THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE
ONE GRAVE AT A TIME
UP FROM THE GRAVE
 
and the novella I read is called HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, which (I think) fits into the timeline either before or after One Grave at a time

 

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After reading the the fabulous Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost I noticed that she had also written a number of 'spin off' books about the secondary characters who appeared in the series. I thought about posting each review separately but then decided to just put them altogether as one big review with separate sections for each book or series of books and put it here with the Night Huntress review I did. (But please feel free to move it somewhere else if you want to!)  I have had the reviews for Night Prince Series of books and the two novella's done for a while but when it was announced that the book Shades of Wicked  which is the first story in her 'Night Rebel' series was being published I decided to wait until I had read the first instalment of that so I could comment on it as well.

So here we go...

Night Prince Series 
1. Once Burned
2. Twice Tempted
3. Bound by Flames
4. Into the Fire

The Night Prince Series is a spin-off series of four full length books concentrating on the character of Vladislav Basarab Dracul, aka Vlad Tepesh, aka Dracula – but don’t ever call him that to his face! Vlad first appears in a couple of the Night Huntress series books, but I have to say the Night Prince series is just as strong as the Night Huntress series. The characters Cat and Bones make cameo appearances throughout the series and if you read the Night Huntress books it does become apparent as to where these stories fit in the complete timeline of books.

At first Vlad is portrayed as the epitome of what you would expect a vampire to be, a cold ruthless killer, cunning and manipulative. But as the stories progress you unravel the layers and he becomes a very interesting, complex and intriguing character. This is probably not a favourable comparison, but as the stories progress the Vlad character reminds me a little of the Christian Grey character in Fifty Shades series (but far deeper and infinitely more complex and also unlike Christian Grey, very well written) as you discover how his childhood experiences and long life and undead life have shaped him and the way he thinks and behaves.

The story revolves around the relationship between Vlad and Leila a young human girl who accidentally becomes embroiled in Vampire business due to her own rather unique talents, and how their relationship evolves, and as the books progress you also discover more about Leila and eventually it is fully explained how and why she has these unique talents. Vlad is portrayed as completely ruthless, to the point of psychotic but Leila gets under his skin and although he tries to deny the fact he finds himself falling in love, something which he swore he would never do. Leila has her own set of emotional baggage due to things which have happened to her and you see how they clash and ultimately unite. All this occurs among various other factors surrounding Vlad and the enemies he has made during his long existence.

There seems to be a theme with this series of books where it appears that Leila is always saving the day but I think that is deliberate, as Vlad is portrayed as a somewhat arrogant creature who expects to be the strongest and most powerful being in the room and naturally assumes that his set of awe inspiring gifts will get him what he wants, but on numerous occasions it is Leila’s careful measured approach that ultimately does get the results. An excellent series of books and I would highly recommend them.
 
Eternal Kiss of Darkness

This is a short novella which offers more details about the character Mencheres.

Mencheres Is the enigmatic Egyptian Pharoah, sire to Ian and grandsire to Bones, and he was an intriguing character who I found I was drawn to when I read the Night Huntress series. Pragmatic and incredibly ruthless yet he also displayed a compassionate side but that compassion always had strings attached and he only showed it if it benefited him to do so, but he was also portrayed a vampire with morals who always tried to do the right thing.

It is not confirmed but from what is written about him and hints and comments made we assume he is the most powerful and one of the oldest Vampire still walking the earth, and the story starts with him deciding to end that incredible lifespan. He is sick of living. He is having difficulties with some of his gifts, his visions of the future are no longer working properly and he feels it is a sign that his time has come to die. So he decides to commit suicide by provoking a nest of ghouls into a fight but not defending himself and allowing them to kill him. What he doesn’t count on is private investigator Kira who stumbles across the scene and tries to help him thinking he and they are human. The situation is the start of their relationship and progresses rapidly.

Mencheres falls in love with Kira and when he falls he falls hard. This story shows the growing understanding, which evolves to love and then devotion between the two and how they work as a team to ultimately prevail and save the day against the bad guys. It was a whimsical and ‘nice’ story and showed off just how powerful a vampire Mencheres is, how he became that powerful and the jealousy that created in others who felt they should have been given what he had.
 
First Drop of Crimson

Short novella about the character 'Spade' and to be fair I am not sure about this one, as I have already said I loved the Night Huntress Series and the Night Prince spin off series which revolved around Vlad, but this, I’m not sure but it didn’t seem necessary. ‘Spade’ was a secondary character appearing as Bones’s best friend, they had known each other since their human days when they met after being transported to Australia. But to be honest, for me personally, he didn’t raise enough interest to warrant a spin off story of his own.

After reading it I can see why it was done, as the other character Denise who plays the love interest in this story and is the friend of Cat needed to evolve from human to something else for a future plot in the Night Huntress series and circumstances which revolve around what she becomes are also explained. But the whole thing just seemed contrived and disjointed. It was enjoyable enough as a stand-alone story, but nothing special.
 
Shades of Wicked (First story in the Night Rebel Series)

Out of all the spin off novels/novella’s to the Night Huntress series of books this one is the one I have always hoped would happen and was delighted when it was announced that it was going to happen. Ever since the character Ian first appeared in the second Night Huntress novel, he has been a character which I have been drawn to and wanted to find out more about and I always hoped he would get his own spin off story.

Ian was first introduced into the Night Huntress stories as Bone’s sire, first impressions of the character are not good, he comes across at best as an annoying, selfish, dislikeable, whoring, sex obsessed, untrustworthy scoundrel devoid of any moral compass or boundaries, but throughout the Night Huntress series there are odd glimpses of a more honourable character lurking beneath the surface, who (albeit grudgingly) earns the respect of Cat and of Leila (Vlad’s wife in the Night Prince spin off series which features Ian in the final instalment). He is notoriously fickle and duplicitous and yet he is loyal to the point of devotion to Mencheres (his sire) and to Bones and Spade putting his own undead life at risk many times for them which is totally at odds with his self centred persona and as the Night Huntress novels progressed odd hints were dropped that maybe there was more to Ian than the shallow self centred sex obsessed whore he portrayed himself to be and the final Night Prince novel ‘Into the Fire’ confirmed this with numerous hints, and comments which also neatly set up the scenario for Ian’s own novella and confirmed that there is much more to this character than meets the eye.

However, when I read this first instalment of what is going to be Ian’s story, I quickly discovered this first book was actually Veritas’s story. The character Veritas pops up occasionally throughout the Night Huntress novels and the other various spin off novellas. Veritas at first glance is the polar opposite to Ian, a tightly reigned in rigid Vampire Law Guardian who upholds the law to the letter. Many references are made to her previous appearances in the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince Series (Vlad & Leila’s story) and the spin off novella ‘Eternal Kiss of Darkness’ which was Mencheres & Kira’s story and her actions in those stories are shown in a different light and the questions which were raised about her in the Night Prince series are answered. We do find out more about Ian and his back-story is briefly explained which offers a small insight as to why he is like he is, but in my opinion many questions still remain unanswered about him.

The story begins a couple of weeks or so after the end of ‘Into the Fire’ (the final Night Prince story) and you do really need to read that to understand this story as it explains why a law revering Guardian would seek out a seemingly morally bankrupt vampire like Ian. It is a very well written, entertaining story and shows the many hidden layers of the two characters and how they are actually very similar despite appearing to be at opposite ends of the moral spectrum. It is very cleverly written and reads a little like an Aesop’s fable – giving a very deep and meaningful message, showing that judging people by first impressions and by accepting them only at face value can be very misleading and detrimental and that even your closest friends can betray you by only assuming the superficial rather than taking the time to delve deeper. What is really clever though is that it also challenges the reader and the perceptions the reader has previously made about the characters as the story turns on its head what you have previously read and assumed about most of the Night Huntress characters. For example, the characters Bones, Cat and Spade are shown not to be quite the honourable vampires they are portrayed to be in previous stories when their previous actions are explained from Ian’s perspective, but despite the way they have actually betrayed him in the past he still would willingly lay down his life for them. It also sends the message that different is not always necessarily bad or something to be feared and destroyed. It ends with a semi cliff-hanger setting the story up for the next instalment of the Night Rebel series and the story line has been set to provide both characters with plenty of entertaining material in the stories to come.

Edited by Apple

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