Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress World (#1)
Amazon Rating: 4.5
Goodreads Rating: 4.11
Alex’s Rating: 4
First Drop of Crimson is Jeaniene Frost’s first book in her Night Huntress World series, a spin-off of her Night Huntress books starring Cat and Bones. The book follows events after the fourth NH book, Destined for an Early Grave. Cat’s best friend Denise, had lost her husband Randy over a year ago in a New Year’s Eve tragedy one can remember or reference in the third NH book, At Grave’s End. Denise’s husband lost his life in a fight against zombies, the most horrible creatures animated by black magic. Ever since his death, she has shunned the undead world, vampires, ghouls, and even her best friend, Cat.
That is until she discovers the undead are the only ones that can help her in a fight against a demon named Raum. Raum has been killing off Denise’s family members, aunts, cousins, in search of one of her ancestors, a man named Nathaniel. Over a century ago, Raum had agreed to give Nathaniel power, in exchange for something. In dealings with a demon, one can guess this bargain hinged on a soul. This soul was promised yet never delivered as Nathaniel tricked the demon and sent him back to the underworld after summoning him and receiving his power. Once Raum got out, he started to hunt everyone in Nathaniel’s line, searching for the man who betrayed him. Being a demon, he will stop at nothing, including blackmailing Denise into delving in the undead ranks in search of this slippery ancestor.
To do this, and protect the rest of her family from Raum’s evil, she must enlist the help of a vampire. She can’t reach Cat or Bones, so she settles on Spade, the vampire who killed a human right in front of her eyes, and who she is terribly fearful of because he reminds her of those fateful nights back a year ago. Spade reluctantly agrees to help Denise so that she doesn’t involve Cat and Bones, who are dealing with problems of their own. Through their hunt for Nathaniel, Denise starts to fall for Spade and Spade, who vowed to never love a human ever again for his own personal tragedies 150 years ago, begins to fall for Denise. Despite the odds and evil surrounding them, they realize their affections are mutual. Add in the help of Cat, Bones, Ian, and Mencheres, and you can guess what the ending entails.
I was nervous to start this series as I had just finished a second read of the four Night Huntress novels that have been released. I love Cat and Bones and wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this spin-off series. Even with all of my hesitancy, I began the book two days ago and finished it in less than three days. It was extremely good. I have always loved Spade’s character and for once we got to see him in a way that wasn’t through Cat’s eyes. We saw him of his own accord and saw how similar he was to Bones, yet still a different man (and I use that term loosely). Although Spade and Denise were similar to Cat and Bones, they still had their own personalities that were determined by their personal tragedies.
From the introduction of Denise’s character in the second NH book, One Foot in the Grave, we already know how similar her personality and speech patterns are to Cat. And that sarcasm and stubbornness that I love so much about Cat definitely translated to Denise. The same goes for Spade. He is so similar to Bones in his stories, that only the tragedies of their love lives seemed to be their differentiation. For some people, I can see how that might be frustrating. It seems Frost may have been writing lesser versions of Cat and Bones, slapping different names on them, and adding in a new tragedy or two. But for me, it worked. Call me a sucker, but I enjoyed the book also for that very reason. Although it was frustrating towards the end when Cat and Bones did appear and they weren’t written with their usual gusto; I take that as the author’s attempt to distance those characters from Spade and Denise, the two main protagonists in this particular book, but again, I see how that may not be sufficient for all readers.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. I will probably re-read it after I read Eternal Kiss of Darkness, featuring Mencheres and Kira. It was a great way to get a Frost fix in my anticipation for the release of the fifth NH novel in February, This Side of the Grave. I would recommend this to all Frost and NH fans, even though there are frustrations with character similarity. There are enough differences with the plot as the demon angle adds an entirely new dimension to Frost’s paranormal world. I enjoyed it thoroughly, though I can see where others may not. If you are a die-hard NH fan like I am and can look past the similarities that seem to make Spade and Denise a watered down and not as kick-ass combo as Cat and Bones, then you will not be “disappointed.” This may seem like a contradictory review, and that is exactly what it is. I liked the book, enjoyed every second of reading it, but there will never be another Cat and Bones.