Grave Secrets by Alice James
Another week, another book review. Now this is a real departure for me! A vampy rom com kinda thing. Not usually my fare, but I have to say I enjoyed this one.
Toni Windsor is trying to live a quiet life in the green and pleasant county of Staffordshire. She'd love to finally master the rules of croquet, acquire a decent boyfriend and make some commission as an estate agent.
All that might have to wait, though, because there are zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve.
And it's all made rather more complicated by the fact that she's the one raising all the zombies. Oh, and she's dating one of the vampires too. Really, what's a girl meant to do?
"Perfect for fans of Charlaine Harris and Gail Carriger." -- Library Journal
"If you enjoy stories about women who won't take cr@p from anyone, vampires, zombies, and British humor then I highly recommend this book." -- San Francisco Book Review
Ok, let’s start this off from the outset. This was well outside my comfort zone. I stopped reading the sexy vampires thing after I had finished with the Sookie Stackhouse books. Although I like things to do with vampires (I think that they are still one of my favourite horror monsters), but I tend to be up at the bloodier end of the scale, more like Necroscope or the 30 Days of night kind of end. You know where they generally rip your throat out and cause complete panic and mayhem.
Not only that, I have a typically male response to whole romance thing. You know, never moved on from the twelve-year-old perspective that kissing and stuff is yucky. Now please don’t hassle me coz I know that there are men out there that do like the romance thing, it’s just not my kind of thing, and I tend to like my yuckiness to be around blood and guts, and a bit more blood and guts thrown in for good measure.
However, from the moment that I met part time necromancer, part time estate agent Toni (or Lavington if you want to use her Sunday name) Windsor attempting to raise the dead in her local graveyard with packets of crisps and loads of ham butties, I was hooked.
I have got to say that I breezed through this book and this was mainly due to Alice James’s light touch in the writing department. She manages to make everything light and airy and fun, except when it is not! And then she throws in the right amount of jeopardy.
The stary take place in an alternative version of earth, where vampires can live out their lives in comfort and aren’t threatened with the numerous methods that can kill them like steaks to the heart ( sorry, I meant stakes, but the image of people fighting vampires with a lump of charred steak amuses me, so there! I ain’t changing it!). Well, if you live in Europe anyway, coz this enlightened acceptance of the old sharp toothed blood suckers doesn’t extend to the USA who have adopted a stake (steak! Still not letting it go) on sight kinda attitude and subsequently we have a vampiric immigration problem. Anyways, back to the story! Our little hero of the piece (her words not mine coz she is only about five foot in her stockinged feet) is Toni Windsor, crack estate agent by day. Raiser of the undead by night who perchance gets involved with a vampire wanting to buy a house. This leads to all sorts of complications, for one, Toni has quite lascivious designs on the bloke, but two, this brings a whole heap of trouble, including a far-right extremist group of anti-vampers, meeting the leader of the nest of vamps and a whole load of other stuff.
Now be warned. If you don’t like a bit of rumpy pumpy spiciness in your novels, then be warned that there is some. However, if you do like a bit of sauce then this may be up your alley.
The book is really enjoyable. Like I said, it’s a very easy read. At times, it can get a bit bloodbathy, but who doesn’t like a good bloodbath or two. I know I am definitely up for them (can’t go wrong with a good blood bath, cleans out the pores and gives you a nice shiny complexion. Just ask that Lady Batharoy woman!) At times there were some aspects that I didn’t get to grips with as they niggled me a bit as I thought they were a bit out of character for Toni and didn’t seem to fit. However, I can live with that, and it certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
Now, I know on the tagline that it mentions Sookie Stackhouse, and there are definitely vibes of that, but (and I know that this might just be my opinion and completely falsified) I thought I saw quite a lot of references to Anne Rice in there. I mean there’s a character called Louis (only brief mind!) and the leader of the vampire coven seems to bear a resemblance to Armand and there were other bits. I only mention it coz I loved the Anne Rice books, and it was a fun little game for me whilst I was reading the book, and a little bit of an aside.
The characters in the book are all good. I especially liked Peter who I thought was more of a better fit for Toni (notice how a bloke who doesn’t do romance is now talking relationshipy stuff😂). At times the vampires could get a little too vampy, but again I can live with that, especially when Toni starts to poke fun, especially at Mr rippling biceps/lover boy Oscar. The other standout character was Bredon, the zombie. A 17th Century lord, dandy, not quite sure….but who cares on the perpendicular semantics (I don’t know what that means, but I like it so it’s staying, I’m just making shit up now!)
Anyways, to cut a long story short, really enjoyed this book. There you go!