AUTHOR: Jeaniene Frost
SERIES: Night Huntress #6
GENRE: Urban Fantasy-Vampires
PUBLICATION DATE: August 30, 2011
READ: September 2011
Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans' voodoo queen just keeps on giving--leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.
Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity--forever. But how do you kill a killer who's already long dead?
NOTE: For those who are new to the series, please be aware that, while I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, there may be spoilers for the books that came before One Grave at a Time.
I just discovered Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series at the beginning of this year and glommed all the books and novellas in less than a month. So I was excited for this lastest installment in Bones and Cat's paranormal adventures and I was not disappointed. While it may not be my favorite of the series, it definitely moved the overall story of the series along and provided me with a great afternoon of reading.
When we last saw Cat and Bones, they were dealing with the aftermath of an almost-war between vampires and ghouls. They were also trying to adjust to Cat's temporary powers from the ghoul queen of New Orleans. It is these temporary powers that cause most of the conflict within One Grave at a Time by introducing the couple to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the ghost of a medieval midwife who was accused of being a witch and executed by famed witch-hunter Heinrich Kramer. She comes to Cat and Bones to ask for their assistance in defeating Kramer who rises from the grave once a year to hunt and torture women.
Elizabeth's request results in a fast-paced, multi-setting ghost story that provides background on the little known world of ghosts in the Frost universe and introduces readers to some highly entertaining characters. My personal favorite of the new characters is Tyler, the medium who helps Cat and Bones with ghost knowledge as well as some much-needed humor in the darkest moments. Elizabeth is another intriguing character who is determined to help Kramer's victims even at the expense of her own sanity at times. She also provides Fabian, Cat's ghost friend, with companionship and possible even a little romance.
We also have a new "minor" villain that is introduced in this book. Jason Madigan takes over Don's position at the government base and it is obvious that he has his own agenda within the agency. His immediate distrust of Cat, Bones, Tate, and the rest of the group causes massive shifts as well as complex situations when dealing with the relationship between humans and the supernatural world. I will warn readers that there is not a definite conclusion to the Madigan storyline in this book, but there is nice foreshadowing to some conflicts to come in the series.
And then we have Heinrich Kramer. Cat and Bones have dealt with some evil villains in this series, but nothing like the pure insanity that is Kramer. He hates women with a passion, but is not above using them to get what he ultimately wants. In order to avoid spoilers, I won't go too much into how Kramer manages to hunt his victims even before he is able to retain physical form, but I will say that the manipulation and mental torture rivals any psychotic serial killer I can imagine. Cat and Bones must rely on more than their supernatural powers, their friends, and their wits to figure out how to defeat Kramer before he disappears again for another year.
In terms of recurring characters, any reviewer would be remiss without mentioning the developments that Bones and Cat go through in this book. My favorite thing about the couple in One Grave at a Time is that they seem to be in a very comfortable position in their relationship. They trust each other completely yet still retain the insane protectiveness and jealousy that makes them so much fun in the first place. While there is not a super-hot, sexy scene ala Chapter 32, there are still plenty of heart-clenching romantic moments that remind readers how much Cat and Bones mean to each other.
As a character, Cat seems to have grown beyond the impulsive girl that she was at the beginning of the series. She understands her limitations and rarely steps into situations she cannot handle. Bones remains just as sexy and sweet as always. His powers, like Cat's, seem to be growing at a rapid pace and I sometimes worry he will become a type of superpowered god-like creature rather than the powerful yet still vulnerable vampire we all love.
This book also has alot of interactions with Spade, Denise, and Ian. I loved seeing Spade and Denise again especially after re-reading One Drop of Crimson. Denise's demonic powers are one of the most fascinating aspects of Frost's universe and I love seeing them in action. Also, Spade and Denise's relationship provides readers with wonderfully sweet moments similar to Bones and Cat. Ian provided some of my favorite scenes in this book. His sense of humor is so warped and perverted that I found myself both in shock and in stitches. It was also fun to see evidence of Ian, Spade, and Bones's friendship in this book. These men deeply care about each other, despite their differences, and they show how much they would be willing to sacrifice for their friendship.
The biggest disappointments for me in One Grave at a Time was the lack of some of my favorite characters. I understand that there are alot of people involved in Bones and Cat's world and it is difficult to arrange them all within a specific storyline. But, I truly missed characters like Tate, Cooper, and Juan. Readers get small glimpses of these guys during the Madigan sections, but not nearly enough for me. I'm hoping the lack of conclusion on that front means more from these guys in the next book.
I also missed Mencheres, Kira, and Vlad. I thoroughly enjoyed Mencheres and Kira's story in Eternal Kiss of Darkness and was hoping to see them interact with Bones/Cat and Spade/Denise. Plus I wanted to see how Mencheres would react to the whole Kramer situation. Vlad is probably my second favorite character, after Bones, in this series so I was disappointed that there wasn't anything about him. The banter between Vlad and Cat is always hilarious and a surefire way to bring out Bones's jealous side. I guess I'll just have to wait for Vlad's own book next year, Once Burned!
In conclusion, One Grave at a Time may not be my favorite of the entire series, but it was enjoyable and entertaining. The characters were fun and complex and the plot moved along quickly. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Frost's work and Bones and Cat. Can't wait for more!
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
"For the first time in years, our relationship is solid, no one's actively trying to murder us, and our closest mates are happy." --Bones
“You're shagging a woman who can turn into a dragon? Blast you, Charles, I am sick with envy!” --Ian
“There were words for what he meant to me, but if I studied every language ever spoken for the next thousand years, I still wouldn’t find enough of them to describe it.” --Cat
“I’ve watched you barely escape death several times, and each instance killed me a little inside. They may be dormant now, but we have enemies both cunning and cruel. Knowing you possess the power to defeat most of them doesn’t threaten me, luv. It relieves me to my very core.” --Bones
"Reckoning" from Unbound (novella-prequel)
Halfway to the Grave
"Happily Never After" from Weddings From Hell (novella)
One Foot in the Grave
At Grave's End
"Devil to Pay" from Four Dukes and a Devil (novella)
Destined for an Early Grave
"One for the Money" from Death's Excellent Vacation (novella)
One Drop of Crimson (side story)
Eternal Kiss of Darkness (side story)
This Side of the Grave
One Grave at a Time
"Home for the Holidays" from The Bite Before Christmas (novella) (UPCOMING)