Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, we continue with the first book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Halfway to the Grave.
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 3-4
When we last left Cat, she was being held captive by Bones (although she doesn’t know his name yet), and he’d finally believed her story about being half-vampire, half-human. He’s decided he can use her to help him in his own vampire-slaying mission (which we don’t know the reason for yet), but she’s issued an all-or-nothing challenge to fight. If she wins, she walks.
As chapter three opens, Cat and Bones are facing off in the center of a large cavern. He gives her first shot, and of course she charges him full-tilt and he simple dodges her, taunting. (Bones taunts really well, by the way, and I’m wondering why I find this so charming and sexy in a character when, in real life, I’d hate this guy. Calling Dr. Freud!) Then she catches him with a surprise swipe of the knife and rips his shirt. In return, she gets a kick to the midsection that leaves her breathless and in pain. Then he punches her in the head, and she begins lashing out blindly. After he throws her across the room, she throws her cross at him in frustration. It draws blood, which annoys him. So he beats her up good and she passes out.
Cat comes back to consciousness in Bones’ bed, next to him, while he bitches because she’s hogging the blanket. She is amazed at how well she feels, until he says he healed her by feeding her some of his blood. Bones is aghast at how little she knows about her own kind (not that she admits they are her kind). He just wants to go to sleep and says if she doesn’t want to feed him “breakfast,” she needs to shut up. She curls up on the cold floor of the cave and sleeps.
When he wakes her up, he says it’s time for Vampires 101. Then we have a big lesson on Jeaniene Frost’s vampire world. Sunlight doesn’t kill them (just a sunburn). They are slower and weaker during the day but not “dead.” Crosses, wood, and holy water don’t hurt them, but silver will. Guns don’t work on them, unless they’re shot in the heart with silver bullets. Beheading will also kill them. Bones’ mind control powers don’t work on Cat.
Bones assures her that if she even as much as THINKS about using some of this knowledge on him, he will not only kill her, but also her family. Besides, he says, he can give her what she wants—the chance to find her biological father and kill him. For example, since Cat is 22 years old and a vampire only has viable sperm for a few days after being turned, her father is about 23 in vampire years. She should be able to look at young men killed in the area about that time and figure it out. Cat is stunned.
During their lesson, Cat lets out a little more about her difficult childhood than she intended, and Bones is horrified that “Mum” didn’t prepare her, and that she encourages Cat to pick up vampires in bars and kill them. I’m kind of with Bones on that one.
Finally, Bones announces she’ll need five weeks of hard training, and then they’ll tackle her looks. Cat, of course, finds this highly offensive.
“Hard training” turns out to be almost paramilitary workouts. He runs her until she passes out, he brings her around by feeding her some of his blood, and they start again. Bones also tells her she has to quit blushing every time there’s a bit of sexual innuendo. She tries to pretend she’s more experienced than she is (she’s had one short, miserable fling) but he banters the truth out of her.
After four weeks, they go on a “field trip.” Bones wants Cat to talk to a man named Winston Gallagher, a railway worker/moonshiner before he was set up for murder and hanged. Yep, Winston is a ghost. Apparently, ghosts and vampires don’t get along (jealousy), so Cat needs to ask Winston the names of girls recently murdered in the area. To bribe the ghost into talking, Bones gives Cat a bottle of moonshine.
So, against her better judgment, Cat saunters into the cemetery. Sure enough, she’s able to lure Winston out with the moonshine. Oops—a detail Bones “forgot” to mention. For Winston to taste the moonshine, Cat has to drink it while he sails through her. So for twenty minutes, she drinks and he gives her names, until she empties the jug. As she tells him how pretty he is, Bones picks her up and takes her home.
I like that Bones didn’t pull any punches in their fight, so to speak. I like that he hurt her, and then healed her (oh, Dr. Freud????)—showing his power and how lethal he could be if he wanted to.
The exchanges between the two are hilarious, and the whole scene with the ghost was priceless. I’m really enjoying this one so far.