Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Halfway to the Grave is the first in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress paranormal series. The final book in this series, Up from the Grave, was just released. Halfway to the Grave is where it all started, the beginnings of the power couple known as Cat and Bones. It’s also the start of one of my favorite author+voice-actor matches: Ms. Frost and Ms. Gilbert.
At 22, half-vampire super-human Catherine “Cat” Crawfield is a fierce red-haired vampire slayer. Slaying has been her nocturnal activity since she turned 16, ever since she found out her vampire father date-raped her beloved human mother. One night Cat meets vampire bounty hunter Bones, a powerful vampire himself who proposes a partnership. In exchange for Bones training her and helping her find her father, Cat will work with Bones as bait for the vampires Bones is hunting.
What follows is a lot of suspenseful gory action, laugh-out-loud snark, combustible sexual tension, and heart-melting romance. In Halfway to the Grave, Ms. Frost sketches a paranormal world with vampires, ghouls, ghosts, their slayers, and “Men In Black” like government agents co-existing under humanity’s radar. More than world-building, Ms. Frost creates these inhuman characters with completely human drama. Some readers have likened it to an amped-up version of the TV show Buffy (Bones is Spike, not Angel). It’s mindless fun, yes, but a totally addicting fun ride. Halfway to the Grave ends with Cat and Bones apart, but trust me, you’ll be immediately picking up Book 2, One Foot in the Grave where they reunite (also narrated by Tavia Gilbert).
Now for Halfway to the Grave narrated by Tavia Gilbert—why do I love thee? Oh, let me count the ways…
- Ms. Gilbert brought dem old Bones to life, a.k.a. Crispin Phillip Arthur Russell III who has been undead since the 18th century. Romance audiobook enthusiasts have a bias towards bass-voiced heroes. Bones is hot, manly, and drool-worthy in print, so hearing Bones as a tenor with a pronounced Cockney accent is startling. The more I listened the more I got it. This is Bones/Crispin, centuries-seasoned ruthless-vampire-with-a-heart. He’s more of an anti-hero, so of course he shouldn’t sound like an “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” commercial! Ms. Gilbert’s portrayal of complex Bones is just spot on—he is both British gentleman and crude former prostitute, domineering and caring, tough and tender, powerful and funny charmer, bad-ass fighter and world-class lover. Can you tell Ms. Gilbert made me fall harder for Bones?
- Ms. Gilbert also brought the hell-kitten, Cat, to life. She sounds stubborn, fierce, and kick-ass, with an underlying hint of vulnerability in those reflective moments.
- Oh, Justina, Justina. Ms. Gilbert so nailed judgmental and prudish Midwesterner Justina Crawfield, Cat’s mother.
- Timmie, Tate, Spade, Cat’s grandparents … all the secondary characters are distinct and true to who they are.
- Pacing is just right. Ms. Gilbert punches it up in the action scenes, and slows it down for those tender moments. Her comedic timing is also perfect. There’s that moment when Timmie squeaks, “I don’t mind foreigners. God save the queen!” and runs off. You can hear how frightening Bones is to him, but the timing of the delivery can’t help but make you laugh.
- I started reading Halfway to the Grave on my Kindle. When I got the audiobook, however, there was no going back. Ms. Gilbert’s narration of the series enhances the story; the audio versions just give me more layers to enjoy.
- And, even if Ms. Frost ended this series at Book 7, I shall but love thee better with re-listens!
Book Content: A
Steam Factor: For your burning ears only
Violence: Escalated Fighting
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Blackstone Audio