Friday, 1 January 2010

CBR 14: "Halfway to the Grave" by Jeaniene Frost

Publisher: Harper Collins
Page count: 384 pages
Date begun: December 19th, 2009
Date finished: December 20th, 2009

Catherine "Cat" Crawfield is half vampire, half human. She found out about her true parentage from her mother when she was 16. Her mother was raped by a newly turned vampire, and ever since she found out the truth about her conception, Cat has been hunting and killing vampires, hoping to one day find her father and avenge her mother's honour. She goes out late as often as she can, trawling bars for vampires, then lures them to secluded spots and kills them. One night things go wrong, and she is taken capitve by Bones, an English vampire bounty hunter who thinks she is working for his enemy.

Cat manages to convince Bones that she is half-vampire (once she is angry or upset, her eyes glow green, just like vampire eyes), and he is amazed that a mere slip of a girl like her has successfully hunted his kind without any proper training for more than five years. Bones is on a mission to discover who is kidnapping and killing young women in the area, and realizes that he and Cat can help each other. He proposes an alliance with Cat (and if she refuses, he'll kill her). After weeks of gruelling training, and a few dangerous missions, Cat realizes that she was lucky to have managed to well before. She is also coming to see that maybe not all vampires are the evil monsters her mother and her own experience have led her to believe they are.

Halfway to the Grave is the first in Jeaniene Hunter's Night Huntress-series. Like a lot of paranormal fantasy out there, it features first person narration by the heroine. Cat is a very angry and insecure young woman, who even before she found out about her father was harassed in the little town she grew up because of her mother's percieved promiscuity. She is truly shocked to meet a vampire who hunts his own, and to discover that vampires might not all be truly evil. Bones is clearly modelled on Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has the platinum blonde hair, the British accent and the slightly condescending pet names for the heroine. He has no problem hunting and killing his own kind for money, especially when the vampires he hunts are vicious kidnappers and killers.

The gradual attraction between the two is very predictable, but also well done. Cat has huge self-esteem problems and trouble accepting that she herself may have any good qualities. Her realization that Bones may be a good person, even if he is undead, and that she is attracted to him, is incredibly hard for her to accept. The book is a good beginning to Frost's series, where the characters and their relationship continues to grow and develop, as well as Cat's unique powers.

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