Jeaniene Frost – “Halfway To The Grave”

10 Aug

Frost, Jeaniene - Halfway to the Grave
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2007

SERIES: “A Night Huntress Novel” #1

WHY THIS NOVEL: Jace recommended it.


Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father–the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner–are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

There are three things for which I like this novel:

#1: A woman growing up

Cat is a 22 year-old girl in the beginning of the novel. She’s an oddity. She’s half human, half vampire, and she’s made it her job to hunt vampires. She’s living with her mother and her grandparents and about to start college.

It’s a setup that reminded me strongly of Buffy, even more so when she goes and teams up with a vampire to hunt other vampires. She’s also more on the shy side, rather prude, and blushes easily in the beginning but Bones takes care of that.

Over the course of the story, Cat is coming into her own. She has to find out who she really is. Is she the person her mother wants her to be?

In Bones words, this question boils down to:

“[…] All I’m saying is that sooner or later, you’ll have to come to terms with yourself. You can’t wish away the vampire in you, and you shouldn’t keep atoning for it. You should figure out who you are and what you need, and then don’t apologize for it. Not to me, to your mum, or to anyone.” (259)

Is she the person Bones wants her to be?

This isn’t actually the right question because Bones loves Cat unconditionally. But at the end of the novel, Cat has to answer this question and her answer is her last step into maturity after standing up against and dictating her terms to several authority figures already. At the end of the novel, Cat is a 22 year-old woman.

#2: Shades of gray

Since the age of sixteen, when Cat learned about her father and her heritage to help explain her unusualness, Cat lived with the world firmly divided into black (vampires) and white (humans). It’s her mother’s world view and there’s no surprise her mother sees it like that because of her own experiences with a vampire. Being half vampire, Cat believes that something evil is inside her and that she has to fight it.

So when she’s forced into a situation where she has to team up with Bones, a vampire, she’s horrified. But she accepts and slowly goes from wanting to stake Bones, to thinking he’s not all that evil, to sleeping with him, and then to loving him. And while she discovers that not all vampires are black, she also discovers that not all humans are white. This, too, is an important step in her growing up.

#3: Look, it’s a relationship!

One of the first things Cat says to Bones is: “Want to fuck?”

He answers that question on their second meeting with: “I’m ready to fuck now.”

While I can see that this question might be a good way to get a man’s attention, I only have a hazy idea what made Bones fall in love with Cat (what did he see initially in a 22 year-old girl?). But there is no haziness about the fact that he is in love with Cat. His love and admiration for Cat is unwavering, it’s Cat who isn’t so clear about her feelings (see #1 and #2 for why).

Halfway to the Grave is one of the few novels where I actually have the impression that the main protagonists have some kind of a relationship and that’s not just because the story isn’t over after just a few days. Part of that might be because they are together without Cat fully admitting to their relationship. Bones waits patiently for her and is more than ready and willing to deal with all hurdles in their way. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t hurt when Cat doesn’t admit to them being a couple in front of others or that he doesn’t get jealous, like when he meets Cat’s neighbor Timmie.

His apology for being rude to Timmie gives a good idea what Bones is like:

“Right, then, mate, terribly sorry for my unspeakable rudeness, and I do beg your pardon,” he said with admirable humbleness when Timmie cracked it [the door] open. Only I could pick up the slight edge to his voice as he went on. “I can only say that it was caused by my natural affront to the notion of her as my sister. Since I’ll be shagging her tonight, you can imagine how I’d be distressed at the thought of rogering my sibling.” (225)

A nice mix of politeness and rudeness with some sarcasm thrown in. Spike (from the TV series Buffy) anyone?

This and that

  • I liked Frost’s writing style. I thought this novel a fast and enjoyable read.
  • I wrote that Cat is a woman at the end of the novel but I’m doubtful she’s up to the task she’s facing then.
  • There are some inconsistencies and maybe even a few stupid moves in the story.
  • I guess you either like Cat or you don’t. Since Halfway to the Grave is told in 1st person, that’s probably the deciding factor how much you’re going to enjoy the novel.

Verdict: I liked Halfway to the Grave. As I said, it reminded me strongly of Buffy. And the way it ends, I know one or two movies with a similar premise. I’ll have to find out. (4/5)


7 Responses to “Jeaniene Frost – “Halfway To The Grave””

  1. Jace Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    Oh, great review! I couldn’t have written a better one! πŸ˜€

    I’ve never consistently watched any of the Buffy shows so I don’t really know the similarities between Buffy and Cat. However, I do know of Spike and I thought Bones resembles him, BUT the author said she didn’t model Bones after Spike. πŸ™‚

    I like this story because of the love story, first and foremost, or should I say I like Bones. πŸ˜‰ The UF aspect was ok but it got tedious after a while (I’ve also read Book 2 and part of Book3).

    Cat truly had the potential to be irritating in her “UF heroine kickassness” but I did sympathize with her situation. Her irritating-to-the-extreme mother and grandparents are enough to drive one into rash kickassness, don’t you think? So yes, I could forgive Cat’s shortcomings.

    All in all, I like this series and will probably stay with it to the end (Book 7). That’s saying a lot because this is the only series I’m following. πŸ˜‰

  2. Christine Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 3:49 am #

    Phew! I’m so glad you liked it! I happen to have never watched a single Buffy episode ever, so I found this book pretty refreshing and full of verve. I might have read it before delving into UF, too, so I enjoyed the UF feel to the story. I actually like that Cat is young and inexperienced and that Bones is old, smart and powerful. What I like even more is that despite all that, Bones never condescends to Cat and he kind of lets her figure out stuff for herself, even when he knows the answers. And he says all the insightful things like the quote you put in your review. He’s so smart and he really cares about Cat without being overbearing.

    I also read book 2, which I enjoyed, but not as much as the first. Then the other day I bought book 4 only to realize I never bought book 3! Gotta fix that.

    I think you (and Jace) renewed my interest in the series. πŸ˜€

  3. Taja Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 9:38 am #

    Jace – thanks! That’s very kind. Though “I couldn’t have written a better one!” is still up for debate, IMO. πŸ˜›

    Okay, my Buffy comment. I didn’t mean to say that Cat’s and Buffy’s personalities are much alike, but they have parts of the background in common. Both young, both still going to college or school/college, both thrown into a world of supernatural beings, both falling in love with a vampire – that’s what made me think of Buffy. And then there is Bones, even if he isn’t modeled after Spike. BTW, I made that comment just to give others a better idea what Bones is like. I honestly didn’t care about similarities, imagined or real. πŸ™‚

    And Cat, I didn’t find her all that irritating. It’s like Christine said, I see Cat as young and inexperienced (in this novel). In addition, as you pointed out, her mother and her grandparents don’t make it any easier on her. So her attitude didn’t bother me much, it was understandable, IMO.

    Let’s see what I think about her kickassness in the next novel. πŸ˜‰

  4. Taja Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    Christine – glad Jace and I could help! πŸ˜‰

    I had no problem with Cat being young and inexperienced. Yes, I admit, I asked myself what Bones saw in her, but not because of that. In all his years, I would expect that he came across women similar to Cat. So it’s more that I didn’t get what made Cat different (except her being a half vampire, of course!)

    But leaving that question behind, I totally agree with what you said about Bones. I really liked him for that and because of that, I had no problem believing in their relationship.

    Bought book #3 already? πŸ˜›

  5. nath Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    I’ve heard a lot of good about this book, but I can’t bring myself to pick it up. Something just turns me off ^_^; I don’t know if it’s because it’s about vampires or the comparison with Buffy.

    I’m glad though you enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  6. Marg Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    I picked up this book when it first came out based only on the cover. Never managed to read it though! I know I really should rectify that, but I am not sure when I will be able to.

  7. Taja Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    Nath – no problem. I actually had the impression that there were quite a few readers who had their problems with this novel, especially Cat, when I went looking for reviews after I’d finished it.

    Cat and Buffy – Cat goes only after vampires (so far) whereas Buffy slays all kinds of things. That enough of a difference? πŸ˜‰

    Marg – I do that, too! I’m more likely to pick up a book (and buy it) when I like the cover. Good thing I have to order all my novels in English online otherwise I probably wouldn’t know where to put all the books.

    Maybe the book will “call to you” when the time is right for you to read it? I know my books do that sometimes.

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