First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I confess I have already read book three, Third Grave Dead Ahead. It's a great thing that I liked that one enough to go back and start the series from the beginning. I am glad I did.
This was a fun book on audio. The narrator clearly had fun with her job too. She dives in headfirst into the puns and verbal wordplay, imbuing Charley's voice with all the sassiness and spunk that is so much a part of her personality. At times, her cadence was a bit strange, but overall, I thought she was a good narrator. She narrates characters of various ages, sexes and ethnicity very well.
First Grave on the Right has an interesting concept, although a main character seeing ghosts isn't novel for urban fantasy. In this case, Charley is a portal in herself, a conduit for the spirits of those who have passed on to go through in order to leave this plane and to go to their final destination. She has had this ability since she was born. Charley is a Grim Reaper. No, she doesn't carry a scythe and doesn't wear a cape. Instead, she looks like a bright light to spirits, irresistibly bright. At twenty-six years of age, she has come to terms with her identity. It wasn't easy, and still isn't. But she has developed coping mechanisms, and she has embraced her ability to help spirits move on. Just this idea is great fodder for a series. On top of that, Charley is a private eye who helps her police detective uncle solve crimes. Yes, some of the cops thinks she's weird, but she has her snark to fend them off. But how about The Big Bad? The mysterious, caped entity who has watched over her since she was a baby just born. What role does he play and how is he related to a young man she knew a long time ago who called her "Dutch?" That's a mystery you have to read the book to find out about.
I can't speak too much about Reyes, because there are too many spoilers involving him. But what I will say is that he has won me over. Reyes is smoking hot, no pun intended! He's a good foil for Charley. I also like Garrett Swopes, who has a frenemies type relationship with Charley. It's clear to me that he has a crush on her. Charley's friend and secretary, Cookie, is a lot of fun too. One thing I couldn't get past was Charley's evil stepmonster. No excuse for how she treats Charley and treated her as a very young girl with a strange ability that she couldn't help possessing. I wonder why her dad lets her get away with that.
First Grave on the Right is one of those books that will have you laughing a lot. Jones is not above a bad pun or too, but they are too endearing to be annoying. And the humor is needed, because it can be quite sad to see these specters whose lives ended in various ways, many not from natural causes. The reader cannot help but feel for Charley, since she has no buffer against the dead. It would be enough to drive a person crazy, but not Charley. It's who she is and she doesn't know any different.
On top of the humor, there are some good mystery components, and the supernatural elements are well done. Darynda Jones lays a foundation for a very good urban fantasy/paranormal mystery with this book that teases me into coming back for more.
View all my reviews