Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, by reader vote, we’re beginning a new read, with the first book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Halfway to the Grave.
This is a new series for me, although you guys have been singing the praises of Cat and Bones on this blog forever. So if you’re new to the series, or an old pro, hope you’ll join in and share your thoughts as we read. (And OMG. I totally love Bones already!)
Here’s how it works. Each week, I’ll post a summary (spoiler alert!) on two chapters, and we’ll chat about them. Try to minimize spoilers beyond what’s happened in the book we’ve read so far. You can read along, read ahead, or just stop by and read the summaries. After the Book Club has been up a few days, I’ll move it to archives so you can still come back and read. There’s a “Book Club” tab above. So, let’s get started!
HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, CHAPTERS 1-2
The book begins with Cat being pulled over at 4 a.m. by the sheriff of Licking Falls, Ohio, and praying he won’t find the body in the back of her truck.
First chapters are always interesting, because the author has to cleverly pile in enough backstory to put the scene in context without overloading the reader.
So here’s what we learn about Cat from this chapter, besides the fact she has a body in the back of her truck, hidden under bags of cherries. Her name is Catherine Crawfield, daughter of Justina, granddaughter of the owner of Crawfield Cherry Orchard—but she does her “night work” as Cat Raven. The sheriff’s deputy implies, or at least Cat thinks so, that her mother was the town tramp. Cat was born out of wedlock. She is half-human, half the daughter of a vampire rapist, and something happens when she gets angry to shed that human veneer. We don’t yet know the scope of her abilities.
Now, Cat spends her nights hawking nightclubs, picking up vampires and killing them. (Daddy issues much?)
The next weekend, Cat goes out vampire hunting again. It’s a slow night, but she finally spots a vampire at a corner booth (she can feel the energy in the air change when they’re about). He’s blond and British, with dark eyes and flawless “diamonds-and-cream” skin. She saunters over and feeds him a pickup line, and he blows her off. She keeps trying, finally giving him a blunt “Let’s f***”—not a phrase she’s ever said before, and it makes her blush. He gives her a careful once-over, but still shoos her away. Unaccustomed to rejection, she runs to the ladies’ room to inspect her appearance and decides maybe the handsome vampire is gay.
Fortunately for Cat, another vamp comes along and she entices him just fine, luring him to a secluded spot for their rendezvous. When his eyes glow green and he dips his head for a taste, she stakes him.
Next night, she goes back to the same bar and has her back turned, totally missing the crackle of energy, when the British vampire tells her he’s “ready to f** now.” She blushes again, and realizes this guy is different. She can’t bat her eyelashes and manipulate him, for one thing. He insists on going now, not walking out ahead of her, making her drive (which puts her stake on the wrong side), and refusing to tell her his name. Not to mention he calls her “Kitten” instead of Cat, which she doesn’t like.
When she drives to her favorite murder spot to “shag,” he’s even more uncooperative. He wants to do it in the truck. He wants her to take off her clothes to see what she has and, when she balks, says fine, they’ll both undress at once. When she turns away in her modesty to keep from seeing more of him than she wants to, he punches her lights out.
Cat awakens chained to a wall in a cave in her underwear, with the vampire making bad Tweety Bird jokes. He wants to know who she works for and when she says no one, he slaps her around a bit—but laughs when she calls him “ass-munch” and “suck-neck.”
The vampire (okay, I might as well call him Bones even though we haven’t been told his name yet) tells her the vamp she staked the night before was the person he was at the bar to find—he followed them, watched her stake him, then followed her home and watched her chop his head off and bury him in pieces. He can also smell vampire on Cat, and assumes she has a vampire boss who gives her some of his blood.
Finally, Cat tells him the truth—that she’s part vampire, her father a rapist, she was born after five months, she figured out on her own how to kill them (silver stake covered in wood to make it look harmless). He’s hardly a sympathetic listener and doesn’t believe her until he sees her eyes glow green as his.
Now, Bones is excited. He tells her she’s only been killing baby vampires but could never take on a master vampire like himself. So he wants to partner with her, use her as bait to hunt and kill other powerful vampires. (We don’t yet know his motives.) Either that, or he can drain her. Her choice. She agrees—unless she can take him down in a fight. Winner take all.
Can’t decide how I feel about Cat yet, although her humiliation at the hands of Bones is really hilarious. I mean, the girl goes out, picks up vamps, seduces them (or at least makes them think so), and then stakes them and cuts their heads off. But she’s this almost-virginal girl who blushes every other minute? Okay, because Bones is utterly charming, I’m gonna give Cat the benefit of a doubt and go with it for now.
And, really, what’s with mom? Mom endorses and encourages this behavior in her daughter? We don’t really know how old Cat is at this point, but I’m guessing college age. So is mom really unbalanced? Guess so—apparently she’s afraid to leave the house.