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Grave Matters: A Night Owls Novel by Lauren…
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Grave Matters: A Night Owls Novel

by Lauren M. Roy

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Ghosts are wandering all over the place, and it’s up to the Night Owls group to find the necromancer responsible before all hell breaks loose. Despite a slow start, a good follow-up to the first book in the series.

Opening Sentence: Elly dreams of heartbeats.

The Review:

Elly is still getting used to living in one place after a lifetime of constantly being on the move. Her brother Cavale is always worried about saying the wrong thing to her in fear that one fight will cause her to take off. Justin is adjusting to being a vampire, with Val as his new tutor in all things undead. That just leaves Chaz, who is feeling pretty useless as the one human in the group without any real fighting ability. And it’s starting to look like he’s going to need it. It all starts with Elly evicting a ghost from a neighbor’s house. The ghost acts strangely, but Elly doesn’t really think much of it. That is, until a ghoul attacks Chaz and Justin in the Clearwaters’ house. Turns out, there’s a necromancer in town, and he has an agenda that will put everyone in danger if they don’t find him and take care of him. Will they be able to find him before it’s too late?

This one was a bit tough for me to rate. The first half of the book moves a little slowly. It starts off great, with Elly dealing with the aforementioned ghost in her neighbor’s house, but then there’s a lull as we get reintroduced to all the main characters. The lull did help me refresh my memory on what happened in the first book, but it didn’t really keep my interest. Then the action picks up again with the attack at the Clearwater’s house. And then there’s another lull. I was beginning to get a little frustrated because I did enjoy the first book,and I was having a hard time remembering why. Then, right around the halfway point, everything just started happening at once, and the momentum just kept on going right up until the end. From the halfway point on, I never wanted to put the book down. So, if we did half ratings, it would probably get a 3.5 out of 5. I’m rounding up though because of how hooked I was for the latter half of the book.

In looking over my review of the first book, I noticed that I mentioned a lack of connection to Elly. That thankfully did not recur here. I actually found myself really looking forward to her narrative segments this time around. It’s interesting to see how she’s growing as a character now that she’s staying in one place and surrounded by people who care about her. My second favorite narrator this time around was Cavale. I just felt so bad for him, seeing how much he wants to reconnect with Elly, but he’s so afraid to do anything that might make her take off again.

All in all, this was a good follow-up to book one. Not perfect, given the slow start, but it certainly picks up speed as the book goes on, and it ends with a bang. Given some of the events that take place, I’m very curious to see where things go from here. It promises to be a thrilling ride!

Notable Scene:

They approached quietly, even though Val still didn’t smell anyone nearby. No one but she and Justin had been here for hours, at least, but it seemed suddenly disrespectful to tromp over to an open grave. As though we haven’t been using the place as a playground all night long.

“Did someone dig this guy up?” Justin bent and ran his fingers over the stone. The letters had mostly eroded, but he found the faint grooves after a moment. Webb, they read. Val picked up a handful of dirt and let it fall through her fingers. “I don’t think so. The hole’s not big enough for someone trying to get to the coffin.” The hole was maybe two feet all around and looked more like something had exploded up out of the ground than dug down into it.

“Look there.” She pointed at the edge of the churned earth, where five long, raking lines led into the middle. “I think it’s supposed to look like Mr. or Mrs. Webb climbed out themselves.” She straightened and paced around the grave in a widening circle. “There.” She showed him a bony handprint pressed into the dirt, and some footprints beyond it.

Justin came to stand beside her, eyes wide. “Are you about to tell me this guy’s a zombie? Because Elly hasn’t taught me the first thing about fighting zombies.”

Val snickered. “No, since I’ve never met one. I’m pretty sure what we’re looking at here is someone’s idea of a hilarious prank. Doesn’t one of the fraternities scare the shit out of their pledges every Halloween?”

“Beta Epsilon, yeah.” Justin had rushed them, Val knew, but he never made it past the first couple of weeks. Justin didn’t talk about it, but by the growl in his voice, he was pissed about whatever had happened. “Ugh, fuck those guys. Can we get out of here before they come back and finish setting up? They’ll probably want to put buckets of pigs’ blood in the trees or something.”

“All right,” said Val. “Let’s go.”

“Assholes.”

“When we get you feeding on real people, maybe I’ll let you bite one.”

FTC Advisory: Penguin/Ace provided me with a copy of Grave Matters. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Aug 26, 2015 |
3.5. It took a little bit for me to remember all the different characters, but I managed eventually. This storyline didn't engage me as much as the previous books and I ended up just not caring much about how things ended. There is a cute romance brewing and I do still really love all these characters and the refreshing way this series differs from a typical urban fantasy! ( )
  anyaejo | Aug 12, 2015 |
Ellie has a home. And a family. And friends. She’s not entirely sure how to deal with having any of these things since they’re all somewhat alien to her. She’s a hunter, a nomad, a warrior – this new life takes some getting used to. Even including being hired as a hunter for the vampire Strigoi.

But a necromancer comes to town and starts causing trouble for the enter Night Owls’ family, raising ghosts, sending ghouls rampaging through Justin’s mentor’s home and threatening to bring spectres from Sunny and Lia’s past. Worse, he seems to be involved deeply in a brewing conflict between the Strigoi and a new vampire organisation, the Osin. War is being declared, but who is doing the declaring?

This is a book that, to me, is defined by its characters. I’m actually hard pressed to say who the protagonist is. I lean towards Ellie, simply because she was pretty much the protagonist in the first book and because there’s a slight emphasis on her. This multiple protagonist element works because they all have compelling storylines and characterisations – and actual character growth

Ellie has a lot of growth and building over such a huge change in her life. She has gone from a nomadic hunter of the supernatural with only one person to rely on (who is now dead) and now she has a family (a brother she has issues with due to what she saw as his previous abandonment), she has friends, she has a stable, static existence and she’s not entirely sure how to be this person. How to be domestic, how to have other people in her life – and that shows a lot with her still pursuing a hunting job not so much for morals or even money per se (though it’s a bonus especially since her viewpoint is constantly used for some excellent class commentary. She and Cavale spent most of their lives poor and have been denigrated and dismissed because of it) but simply because hunting and fighting is something she knows, something she can have without the others.

And there’s Cavale, her brother. He had strong reasons for “abandoning” Ellie and the despised man who raised them. But there’s the difficulty of Ellie still worshipping him and Cavale’s guilt and Ellie’s resentment. Like Ellie, even though he has been stable for some time, he has no experience of a domestic existence and now he has a sister, there living with him. His insecurity, his worry about how to make her happy, about whether she’s just going to leave and how he actually can make a household; which then leads to Ellie not knowing how to deal with her brother trying to play house.

There’s a brief suggestion that Cavale may be bisexual or gay – in one line he comments on the physical attractiveness of another man. It’s somewhat out of nowhere and never mentioned again which kind of bemused me and I had to go back a second time to check. It’s one line so I’m kind of waiting before flagging this.

Val is another interestingly conflicted character – she has her nice, safe normal life which was always very good for her because a life as a hunter had cost her loved ones. So she wants to be a nice, safe vampire. Buuut after all the action of the last book her blood is up

And there’s Chas. Val’s nice normal human Renfield who is a fun, snarky human. Just a human. Not a hunter, no magic, no fighting skills. He’s a book store clerk. He sells books – and realises just how much of a weak link in the chain he is and how vulnerable he is.

Side characters we have Lia and Sunny who are Succubi, lesbians and one of them a POC. I like them and they do have their own storyline even if they are side characters compared to the others – but they are clearly there as something concrete and interesting more than simple tokens.

One problem with the numerous developed characters with their own storyline is, well, that they have their own storylines. Each character in this book has their own set of issues and plot to work through – Val her vampire instincts, Ellie her insecurities, Cavale his family issues with Ellie, Justin becoming a new vampire, Chaz dealing with his feelings of inadequacy even, to a lesser extent, Sunny and Lia’s worry about being found

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1 vote FangsfortheFantasy | Apr 18, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425272494, Mass Market Paperback)

Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But, as Lauren M. Roy's thrilling sequel continues, even its supernatural staff isn’t prepared for the dead to come back to life…

Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she’s still getting used to working alongside them. While she’s learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston’s most powerful vampire has her on edge—especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual…

Cavale isn’t thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he’s determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices—until Elly’s job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer’s undead army…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:19 -0400)

Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But even its supernatural staff isn't prepared for the dead to come back to life. Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she's still getting used to working alongside them. While she's learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston's most powerful vampire has her on edge -- especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual. Cavale isn't thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he's determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices -- until Elly's job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer's undead army.… (more)

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