If you haven’t yet picked up First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, don’t be surprised if I give you a look of confusion. First Grave on the Right as well as the next two in the series, Second Grave on the Left and Third Grave Dead Ahead, are just fan-friggin-tastic. They’re a must read for all UF fans.
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
What makes the Charley Davidson series a must read? First and foremost, it’s Darynda’s writing style. She is quick-witted and her pacing is just fabulous. While no book can be all action all the time, with Darynda’s writing, even during more “down” parts, the plot is kept moving and the dialogue between characters is awesome. My favorite parts come from our heroine, Charley, and especially when she and her best friend, Cookie, are talking to one another. The one liners from Charley are sheer genius. While Charley does grow with each book, her core personality stays the same. Which means that sharp wit and snark gives us readers a much needed comic relief at times throughout each book.
Another thing that makes the Charley Davidson series unique is the premise and overall plot. You see, Charley isn’t your typical supernatural. She’s not a were, a vamp, a witch or angel. Well, maybe kind of an angel…if you consider the grim reaper an angel, which some do. After all, one of the aliases is Angel of Death and as Charley would tell you herself, don’t go picturing dark robes and a scythe. Although, she’d probably love to have a scythe just to scare the heebie jeebies out of someone (and if you read it, well, she’d probably just hurt herself in the process). In reality the character with these assets would be Reyes. He doesn’t have a scythe per se, but he does wield a nasty sword-like object and he does from time to time look like he has a dark flowy robe on. But he’s not a grim reaper. To find out what he is, you’ll need to at least get through First Grave. And if you’re like everyone else I’ve talked with, once you finish, you’ll need Second Grave stat!
In the famous words of Monty Python…”and now time for something completely different” or some such line…each book gets a bit darker. Darynda isn’t unlike a lot of our favorite authors, she loves to torment her characters, especially Charley and Reyes. She puts poor Charley through hell and back and just when you think enough is enough, the next installment brings something darker. But it has to. Charley’s powers as a grim reaper are no where near fully realized nor utilized. While I haven’t quite figured out where the overall series will go, there’s bound to be a big bad show down between Charley, Reyes and demonkind…and my guess is Charley will need access to all of her powers in order to prevail. So the “tests” Charley has to endure hopefully are meant to make her stronger, learn about herself and her powers and give her the confidence and tools so she can survive the ultimate showdown.
I cannot say enough good things about the Charley Davidson series. By and far what keeps me coming back for more is Darynda’s writing style. The life and vibrancy she gives to her world and the way she writes dialogue is nothing short of amazing. I was instantly hooked when I picked up First Grave on the Right and not just because of the awesome cover (and no, you cannot buy those shoes, the designer died and oh if you do find a pair, they’re over $1000!!). But also because of the new, fresh idea Darynda brought to the UF genre. Add in the fabulous dialogue and who couldn’t be hooked? I promise you, the only regret you’ll have is not having read this series sooner!