Book Review: Grave Secrets by Alice James

Summary:

An adventure with zombies. And vampires. And romance. And croquet.

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…

…but first she’s got to deal with zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve.

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. Really, what’s a girl meant to do?

Goodreads

Thoughts:

This book took a little bit of getting used to and there were a few things that made me raise an eyebrow but overall….I really, really, really loved it. What can I say, I’m a sucker for vampires. (Pun totally intended.)

The story started off kind of cute with lots of humor and at first it had a very Bridget Jones’ Diary but if she’s necromancer feel to it. Just the way the dialogue is written very much put me in mind of that. And also that Toni, our main character, always seems to find herself getting in situations that are a bit over her head. Toni has a very breezy feel to her at first and, if I’m honest, she also feels little shallow at times–especially when it comes to the men she’s interested in. That being said, I didn’t mind that she wasn’t little Ms. Perfect because that would have been pretty grating all on its own. So. Toni. She’s a character that I found a little hard to get behind at first but by the end I was rooting for her. She’s loyal, fierce, resourceful, and she’s surprisingly resilient. Or maybe not so surprising. We’re told from the start about the tragedy of her parents and grandfather’s deaths and yet here she is making the best of things with a seemingly positive outlook on life. She’s also a bit of a stereotype of a fiery redhead at times, but I didn’t mind that because I don’t mind a temper when I feel like it’s warranted.

I’m not sure this is much of a mystery despite being billed so. It’s much more of a urban fantasy with a mystery on the side. The mystery is very much buried (again, pun intended) beneath everything else that’s going on with the vampires and their silly vampire politics. Or maybe not so silly as there’s a lot of death and destruction involved.

This book is at once cute and funny and filled with gore, violence, and a marathon sex scene with lots of other innuendo. I’m not quite sure where to place it but it felt very much like a weird mix of Bridget Jones, Betsy the Vampire Queen by Mary Janice Davidson, and Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series. Which…I mean, I loved all of those things and somehow despite the tonal shifts, it worked well for me. Nothing in this story is new or ground breaking, but it was still fun. And it had a surprising amount of depth at times. Yes Toni is shallow when it comes to certain things but at others she really opens up and shows another side of herself, someone who genuinely cares a lot for people, even strangers, and she’ll fight for them, sometimes literally.

As for the other characters, there’s a lot to love. Except. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Oscar, Toni’s love interest. But I also get the feeling we’re not supposed to be? Speaking of shallow…maybe that’s why they are so attracted to one another. They met and then were shortly there after declaring love for one another which did make me roll my eyes a lot. Her relationship with Peter, Oscar’s other significant other, of a sort, seemed to have more of a basis than her and Oscar. Even her zombie friend who she raises for nightly picnics…there’s more between them than her and Oscar. Also, I get the feeling Oscar isn’t really who she thinks he is and I can’t fathom the attraction other than ‘he’s hot and looks good in a suit’. Of course, then there’s Benedict, who is sort of the local vampire lord, and he is….well, I kind of like him a lot more than Oscar even though at first he’s made out to be a lot worse. Hmmm, where have I seen this before? Hahahaha. 😀 Anywho, I really did love most of the side characters, I thought they were all rather well done, even her brother Wills and his boyfriend Henry were a joy to spend time with.

The plot is harder to pin down. There is a mystery but it’s very much in the background until the end so it’s more of a subplot, even though it’s introduced in the beginning way before the main plot. The rest is a bit of a mess as there seems to be several climaxes of action, one at the halfway point. But it’s basically ‘bad vampires came to town and after they attack they have to be hunted down and exterminated’. As a result the pacing can be a bit wonky at times, but it was still a very quick read (I read it in a single day).

Overall, I thought this was a fun book, even though it was a little bit uneven at times. That said, it did have a lot of the things that I loved and they were, for the most part, done well here so I had a great time reading it and at the end of the day that’s really all that matters. 4.5/5 stars.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Grave Secrets by Alice James

  1. Tammy says:

    I’ve seen mostly positive reviews for this book, and it does sound like a ton of fun. I mean, look at the cover! It has “fun” written all over it😁

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