ONE GRAVE AT A TIME (Night Huntress #6)
Available August 30th
Received from publisher for review
Cat is still experiencing the residual effects of the voodoo queen of New Orlean's blood donation, slowly acclimating to her bevy of new ghostly companions. When longtime spectral friend Fabian brings a ghost with a special request into the home she shares with her husband Bones, she can hardly refuse her assistance after all he's done for them.
Turns out Fabian's friend is one of the many victims of Heinrich Kramer–famed witch hunter, hater of woman, and serial murderer. Though he's long dead, his spirit is still haunting this world and every night on Samhain, his ghostly form gives way to flesh and blood and he returns to the activities he so thoroughly relished in life.
Unable to bear the thought of more woman dying at the hands of such a monster, Cat and Bones immediately set to work in figuring out how to stop him in life and death, but Heinrich proves to be a formidable foe whose hatred has had years to fester and become stronger than ever, and Cat finds herself more deeply involved than she ever imagined.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Night Huntress series as a whole is Ms. Frost's ability to write characters who grow and progress a little in each book, so even when one particular story isn't as action packed or as emotionally intense as others before it, the vibrancy of the characters ensures we can never be anything short of entertained. Some installments offer blistering romance and palpable sexual tension, others have us positively guffawing and sucking in huge breaths like dying fish in between bouts of laughter, and then still others present different levels of drama, each aspect guaranteeing us a different type of reading experience from one story to the next. We are teased with the presence of just a couple of her trademark elements in each book, knowing we'll have to wait for the next installment to get a taste of what is purposefully left out of the one we're reading, and we can't help but smile while flipping the pages as we enjoy creativity at its best.
Cat is particularly remarkable in this newest release, still exhibiting the maturity she began to embrace in the last book by refusing to allow Bones to steamroll her with his protective instincts but also not reacting to that protectiveness by leaping into danger without formulating a plan and utilizing his input first. She listens and discusses problems and solutions with him, and when he begins to slip into his alpha-male role and seeks to keep her safe by his side, she intelligently and rationally compromises with him while still trying to help and defend those who need her like the Cat we all know and love. There does seem to be a little spark missing from the two of them however, and we find ourselves longing for just a touch of the relationship drama that plagued them in the first four books. This is most likely a "grass is always greener" situation though–when the petty (though understandable) jealousies were running rampant we wished for them to be happy and melodrama-free, and now that we've been given our wish, we desire that familiar and incendiary sexual tension resulting from their heated arguments.
While This Side of the Grave moved at a slightly slower pace than the previous books, One Grave at a Time returns us to normal Night Huntress speed, providing us with a truly despicable and diabolical villain constantly on the offensive as he focuses all his considerable animosity on Cat and Bones. His sense of righteousness is enough to make us cringe, and his views on women and witchcraft are more than enough to make bile rise in our throats as he executes his warped understanding of God's will, causing us to read as fast as possible in order to get to the moment where he gets his much-deserved comeuppance. Heinrich is an impressively disgusting specimen, joining the ranks of Cat's father and Gregor as individuals for whom our hatred burns especially bright.
Ms. Frost introduces another new character into the mix in this installment, a man who piques our curiosity and has our instincts on red alert as he worms his way into the government compound with Tate, Juan, and Cooper. It's clear he will be a recurring problem for Cat's former team and Cat herself, and despite his only brief appearances he makes himself memorable and has us itching for the next book to see how he will put into motion the the questionable ideas we can see flickering through his head. Disappointingly, Vlad is noticeably absent in this book–though we are slightly mollified by the fact that he's getting his own series–but Ian is present in all his ridiculous glory, his outlandish arrogance and humor making us feel right at home in a world we love so very much.