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Halfway To The Grave

Jeaniene Frost

Published 2007         358 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

If Buffy and Angel had a daughter, she’d be just like Cat Crawfield, a vampire hunter with some vampire blood and an attitude.

Cat’s got a few skeletons in her closet… and some buried in the backyard.  The half-vampire is out to rid the world of these hideous night creatures, and when she’s captured by Bones, she realizes the master vampire has a few things to teach her.

Teaming up with one of “them” wasn’t in her plans, but now that the stakes have been raised, she is faced with the most difficult fight of all….

The Review

Halfway To The Grave is the debut novel from new author Jeaniene Frost.  It follows the story of Cat a vampire/human hybrid, as she goes from being an amateur vampire slayer to being a force to be reckoned with after she teams up with Bones, the master vampire who teaches her all about killing vampires.  Along the way they manage to kill some evil vampires, destroy a white slavery ring and fall in love, making for an action packed novel.

Halfway To The Grave is a mixture of the urban fantasy and romance genres and it is hard to say which genre it fits into best.  While it is not impossible for urban fantasy and romance to co-exist within one story these genres do seem to pull their characters in opposite directions. 

The urban fantasy genre likes strong female protagonists with complicated love lives.  The romance genre likes characters that a reader can empathise with and a HEA (happy ever after) is pretty much a given.  To me, this often makes the romance and urban fantasy genres uncomfortable bedfellows and reading Halfway To The Grave I suffered with genre-confusion as I kept changing my mind about whether the book was urban fantasy (as I had first assumed) or romance (as the story turned out to be) or urban fantasy (as the novel ended up.)  Finally, once I decided to pigeon hole the novel as urban fantasy my genre-confusion cessed and I was able to concentrate on the story.

Halfway To The Grave is the novel that Buffy fans have been waiting for.  If you still mourn the loss of the TV show, then help is a hand in the form of Cat and Bones.  While Cat engenders less empathy than Buffy Summers, there are similarities between the two characters.  They both have special vampire slaying abilities, they are both young, both have heavy burdens to bear and they are frequently misunderstood by the world.

Probably the biggest difference between Cat and Buffy is their mothers.  While Mrs Summers may have occasionally nearly caused the end of the world by inadvertently grounding Buffy on a night when she was needed to save the world, it was clear that she loved her daughter.  Cat’s mother however, is a character that it is really had to like.  She hates vampires, has taught her daughter to hate vampires and willingly sent her sixteen year old daughter out to kill vampires without a thought as to whether her daughter might get hurt in the process.  It is almost like she hates her daughter - and Cat’s feeling towards her mother aren’t much better - making the relationship between them seem somewhat one dimensional.

There are other similarities between this novel and the Buffy TV show.  The author was clearly channelling Spike when she wrote the character Bones.  While he makes an entertaining character and is the romantic interest in this story, he is something of a mystery.  Why, when or how Bones became a vampire bounty hunter is never explained or explored, which means that the reader is left guessing about his motives for a large part of the story.  In fact the reader is told very little of Bones’ story - we hear how he became a vampire but what he’s been doing in the two hundred years or so between now and then is not mentioned at all. 

For a debut author Jeaniene Frost shows great promise and with a follow up to Halfway To The Grave planned for 2008 it will be interesting to see how she develops the ideas and characters further. 

Summing up – Halfway To The Grave is an action packed, fast paced read with vampires and vampire slaying that will certainly appeal to Buffy fans - and should win some fans of its own too!

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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