Title: Night Owls
Author: Lauren M. Roy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Night Owls (Book 1)
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
ISBN-10: 0425272486 (Ace/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-0425272480 (Ace/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Steph
Night Owls book store is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk?
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren as possible. She’s lived that life, and the price she paid was far too high to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural werewolf-like beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safe keeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors?
Quick & Dirty: Cannibalistic shapeshifters are after a book, one that happens to be in the hands of a group of humans, vampires, and a pair of lesbian succubi. This should prove to be an interesting confrontation…
Opening Sentence: Father Value had taught Elly everything she knew about living to see another day.
I always go into first books in series with a little trepidation. With world building, character introduction, etc., they can sometimes be a bit rough. While Night Owls did have some issues, especially in regards to some of the character development, overall, it ended up being an enjoyable first book in a series that manages to wrap the main plot up while leaving enough open to instill a sense of excitement about the next book.
Elly doesn’t remember her parents. The only life she has ever known has involved being raised by a man known as Father Value. He taught her everything she knows about hunting Creeps, vicious cannibalistic shapeshifters. When Father Value is killed by the Creeps after stealing a book that holds the key to reviving Creeps’ ability to create more creatures like them, Elly takes the book and runs to the one person Father Value told her she could go to if something ever happened: a college professor named Clearwater.
Val is a vampire. She used to be a Hunter, specially trained to hunt and kill Jackals (vampires’ codename for Creeps), until a mission went terribly wrong. Now, she owns a college bookstore, running it with her Renfield, Chaz. One night, she discovers that Jackals are in town, but she has no idea why. The next day, one of her employees shows up with a book his professor asked him to bring to Val to keep safe. That night, Jackals attack, telling Val she has three days to deliver the book, or they will bring their entire nest to the bookstore. There’s just one problem: some of the pages in the book are blank, and the information seems to have transferred to her employee Justin’s head. Now, she, Elly, Chaz, and Justin must work together, along with Elly’s brother Cavale and a pair of lesbian succubi, to get the information out of Justin’s head and back into the book before the three days are up. Will they succeed, or will they have to fight?
While I largely enjoyed most of the book, I did have some trouble connecting to a few of the characters. Elly was the hardest for me to connect to, and I found myself not enjoying the chapters from her point of view as much as I enjoyed chapters from Val or Chaz’s point of view. While we learn a lot about Elly’s past, I just could never get a feel for her character, other than she’s had a hard life and isn’t very good socially. Chaz and Val, on the other hand, were much easier for me to connect to, and I loved their chapters. I loved seeing how their relationship as vampire and Renfield works. There is a lot of unspoken emotion between them, and I can’t wait for the day that it all comes out. Of the other characters who don’t act as narrators, I’m most interested in Justin. He goes through a lot of changes in this book, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how he adjusts.
The book moves very quickly. This is largely a good thing, but there were times that I felt I was missing something, almost as if there should have been a prequel. All of the information I was missing gets explained, but I didn’t like feeling lost in the beginning. It should also be mentioned that romance lovers might want to look elsewhere. This is definitely old school urban fantasy, with no romance going on, at least not in this first book. As much as I love romance, I don’t think this book suffered for not having any.
Overall, this is a promising first book in a series, filled with action and moments of humor. The issues I had were not enough to make me want to give up on the series. In fact, the way it ended left me very curious to see what’s going to happen in the next book. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Lauren M. Roy has to offer!
“Call me Helen. If things are as bad as I think they are, we may as well dispense with the formalities.”
“What do you mean, as bad as they are?”
Helen pursed her lips, as though searching for a delicate way to put it. “He kept Henry at a distance these last few years. For his ward to show up at our door in the middle of the night, I’d imagine the situation has to be particularly dire.”
She stepped back so Elly could get past her, then shut the door and turned the lock. Her hand fell gently on Elly’s shoulder.
“Otherwise…tell me, Elly. Is Father Value…?”
“Dead,” she said, and the weight of the last two nights crashed down on her at last. She tried taking a deep breath, but it turned into a sob. Another followed, then another. All she could see were Father Value’s eyes, cold and staring–the only part of his face she could even recognize under the blood and bruises.
Then Mrs. Clearwater–Helen–was there, pulling her into an embrace and murmuring nonsense words as she stroked Elly’s hair. That set off another spate of tears. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had held her like that, not even Father Value. No, that wasn’t true. She could remember, but it only dredged up a deeper hurt.
“I’m sorry,” she said after a while. She wrangled hold of the sadness and fear coursing through her and gave Helen a watery smile.
“Don’t be. Let’s get you some tea, and you can give me the short version before Henry gets home.”
Elly lifted her pack from where she’d dropped it and followed Helen further into the house. The pack felt heavier than it had before. I thought burdens were supposed to get lighter when you shared them.
Only, she wasn’t feeling any relief. Elly looked out a window into the night. Somewhere out there, the Creeps were coming. A day, maybe two, and they’d find her here. They wouldn’t be kind to anyone aiding her.
Burdens might get lighter, but guilt? guilt bears down harder.
First thing in the morning, I’ll go.
Night Owls Series:
1. Night Owls
FTC Advisory: Ace/Penguin provided me with a copy of Night Owls. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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