by Lauren M. Roy
Series: Night Owls #1
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Night Owls book store is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk . Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren as possible. She’s lived that life, and the price she paid was far too high to ever want to return. Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural werewolf-like beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on. When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safe keeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors.
I grabbed Night Owls the first book in the new urban fantasy series by Lauren M. Roy for the setting. The tale takes place in the college town of Edgewood at a bookstore called Night Owls. Roy offered an engaging tale with a motley crew of supernatural and human characters. Mini review: With a new supernatural creature and interesting characters, it holds the promise of an exciting new series.
Valerie McTeague is the proud owner of the Night Owls bookstore and a vampire. Her Renfield, Chaz, helps her by running the business during the day, along with Jason an undergrad student from the local college. Elly, is a young girl of sixteen who hunts Jackals or Creeps; flesh devouring creatures, with her guardian Father Value. When Value is killed after stealing a book, she takes matters into her own hands. The book causes Valerie and Elly to cross paths and team up to stop the Jackals. The tale that unfolds has us conjuring up spells, hang out with Succubus and learning more about this world.
Roy shared this tale using third person with multiple perspectives. It was a unique attempt and gave us insight into the characters. There are five characters who work against the Jackals or Creeps. Why the two names? Elly Garrett was raised by the Brotherhood under the guidance of Father Value, and this little girl is one tough cookie. Roy showed us Elly’s bad-ass skills but also revealed the child beneath. Valerie our store owner and the local vampire has an interesting history. She is fearless, and for the most part avoids interaction with the supernatural world. When one her “own” is in danger she quickly steps into action. I liked Valerie, and her Renfield, Chaz (who clearly has a crush on her). The author skimmed the surface of how they came to be, and I am anxious to learn more. Justin Kennedy the undergrad who works for Val unwittingly gets himself in trouble and becomes a target. Cavale was a fascinating character. He does odd jobs like removing poltergeists and casting spells. He is also connected to Elly, and I found the thread interesting. The succubus; Lia and Sunny were funny, and could kick-butt.
Night Owls, was a fast read, and I quickly consumed it. The world-building was solid but not as in depth as first books in this genre typically are. Roy still managed to give us enough details to keep me engaged, and the shorter length will appeal to some readers. There isn’t a romance, although one character has hidden feelings for another. The perspective helped flesh out the characters, and they worked well together as a team. Each offers different strengths, and I am anxious to see how they develop. I loved the blending of spells, myth, secret societies and the paranormal creatures we encounter. The casting of circles, wards and secret archives gave the tale a vibe similar to the television show Supernatural. The tale was not without flaws; there were a few minor inconsistencies but didn’t deter from my overall enjoyment and fascination with the story. Night Owls could have taken on a darker tone with the Jackals and that element missed the mark. Whether by intent or not, it is one I would have preferred. We aren’t given much of a history on these new supernatural creatures leaving them shrouded in mystery. I have it on good authority that the next book will provide some of those answers. Intense moments where infused with humor making this a lighter tale.
Night Owls offered a solid start to this new urban fantasy series. Fans of old school urban fantasy will find this appealing. I look forward to reading the next book in the Night Owls series.
Notes obtained from a Brotherhood research file
Five Things to Remember When Hunting Jackals
1. Jackals like the taste of fear. They’ll snack on any kind of flesh available to them, living or dead, but if their victim’s terrified out of his mind first, all the better. Occasionally, this works in the Hunter’s favor, since a Jackal playing with its food means the victim might live long enough for help to arrive.
2. Jackals have two methods of procreation, both of which have been working less and less over the last few decades.
The old way, the easier way, is similar — but not identical — to the bite of a werewolf. It’s not a guaranteed resurrection, and it involves more than simply gnawing on the victim’s arm. How that particular transformation comes about is not entirely known, but it doesn’t seem to take much thought on the Jackals’ parts.
The other way is more obscure. Some Jackals are able to reanimate the bodies of the freshly dead. Where Jackals created by a bite retain some aspects of their original personalities, Jackals who spent some time pining for the fjords are entirely new entities in slightly used bodies. Where these minds come from is unknown. Jackals aren’t overly cooperative about being interviewed.
Rumors occasionally surface regarding a third method, one that relies heavily on sorcerous means, but if such a spell exists, it’s been lost to time.
3. Jackals can shift their forms any time they like. The phase of the moon has no bearing on this abilitiy. While they can appear mostly human, many Jackals prefer to hide their faces beneath hats and hoods, keeping potential victims from spotting their yellow eyes or their protruding snouts.
4. They have their own language and alphabet. Jackal script (or “Creepscrawl,” as certain branches of the Brotherhood refer to it) is not fit for human eyes. Those who attempt to learn it must do so slowly, in increments that span years. Some Brothers and Sisters dedicate their entire careers to becoming fluent in this language, so they might serve as translators for Hunters out in the field. However, most Hunters quickly come to recognize obscenities written in their twisty lettering.
5. Jackals aren’t above a bit of sorcery, even if it takes some arm-twisting to obtain. It’s rare for a Jackal to have supernatural talents beyond the ones they gain with their transformation. However, if a human had abilities before they were turned, a small percentage of them might retain those powers in some form. More often, however, the Jackals will hire or coerce a witch or warlock to perform spells for them: scrying, healing, warding. Some whisper of Jackals using magic to be able to walk in the sunlight, but our research finds no evidence such a thing would even be possible without a human partner willing to take on the sun’s damage in their stead. The agony that would cause is unthinkable.
A special thank you to author Lauren M. Roy for granting Caffeinated access to her file on Jackals
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