Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Darynda Jones' Eighth Grave After Dark gives readers exactly what they want...until it doesn't

If you haven’t read the Charley Davidson series before, don’t read this review. Instead, go pick up the first book (or audiobook) and get ready to plow through a series at breakneck speed - because you won’t want to stop. But this review has spoilers…so stop now. If you are already a fan, and you’ve read up to book seven, go ahead and read this review (even though you've probably already read book eight).

Whoever wrote the blurb for Eighth Grave After Dark did a much better job of summarizing the plot than I could, so I'll let them tell you what's going on in book eight:

Charley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they've made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can't get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren't enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.

Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley's tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full…but also tied. While the angry hellhounds can't traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders like evil sentries, so Charley has been forbidden from leaving the sacred grounds. Luckily, she has her loyal team with her, and they're a scrappy bunch who won't let a few thirsty hellhounds deter them.

While the team scours the prophesies, searching for clues on the Twelve, for a way to kill them or at least send them back to hell, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they've accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. Their presence is comforting. But the good feelings don't last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….

Some characters exhibit growth over the course of a few books, getting wiser, making better decisions, even having realizations about themselves and their co-characters. Charley…not so much. She’s still making REALLY bad, even stupid, decisions and not paying much attention to those around her or asking the right questions. On the plus side, she’s still wise-cracking, sarcastic, and willing to risk her life to help people she’s never even met. As I listened I thought this was just kind of a wrap up to the series, tying up some loose ends and giving readers what they wanted…until I got to the ending, which has a very surprising twist and makes me want to read book nine (which, unfortunately, won’t be published until January 2016). Cheers to Darynda Jones. You always keep me coming back for more. 

Note: Darynda Jones will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Southern Magic Reader's Luncheon on November 7th in Birmingham, Alabama. Tickets are on sale now. This is always an excellent event, and I highly recommend the experience!

Jones, Darynda. Eighth Grave After Dark (Charley Davidson Book 8). New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015. 4 Stars. 

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