Night Owls by Lauren M. Roy (Ace, Feb. 25th, 2013)-So, maybe you’re like me, and there hasn’t been a ton of stuff in the urban fantasy realm lately that’s floatin’ your boat. There are a couple of standout series, but other than that…but I digress. What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that I think Lauren M Roy might be onto something with Night Owls. As the book opens, a young woman named Elly is on the run from something she calls a Creep, but their kind are also called Jackals. In her possession is a book that the Jackals want, but Elly doesn’t know why, she just knows that her mentor died for it and she can’t let it fall into their hands. What she thinks is a safe haven turns out to be just the opposite, and she finds herself asking someone she hasn’t seen for two years for help, a young man named Cavale, who she was raised with and considers her brother, if not in blood, certainly in spirit. Cavale’s friends end up getting involved too, and that’s where the real fun starts, because Cavale’s friends are actually pretty awesome. Val McTeague is a world weary vampire that runs the titular bookstore along with her friend, and Renfield, Chaz. Also in the mix are two lesbian succubi, Sunny and Lia, that delight in taking the form of your biggest crush, although they only crush on each other. And here you were thinking “oh no, not another vampire.” I like that Val is a bit of a loner and doesn’t like to call on other vampires unless absolutely necessary, and she loathes having to feed. She’s a conflicted lady, but she has a heart of gold, even if it’s not beating. Chaz is to-the-bone loyal to Val, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for a scene between him and the succubi that’s very revealing, but it’s probably not what you think. Elly is adrift without her mentor, Father Value, but she’s quite a hand with magic and she’s glad to be rebuilding a relationship with Cavale, who left her and Father Value under unhappy circumstances. There’s also a student, and Night Owl employee, Justin, who becomes involved with the book very intimately, and his sweetly awkward scenes with the tough, but somewhat naive, Elly are adorable.
So, yes, the book! This book could have the power to bring the Jackals down, if only it can be decoded, but it could also help them increase their numbers, so you can see how it’s a very big deal, and it’s up to the gang to make sure they don’t get it. Easier said than done, because the Jackals are nasty, nasty customers. There are some crackling fight scenes and plenty of action, but where this book was strongest was in how it defined a family as much more than flesh and blood. I have to admit to liking Val the best, and the last third is especially enlightening since the Boston Strigoi (those vamps that Val wants nothing to do with), is called in to help. There’s quite a history there, and it made me want to learn so much more about Val (can you say vamp politics and a painful past?). Night Owls is a solid, just plain fun urban fantasy with flawed, but interesting characters, and some very nasty baddies,and I’m looking forward to spending more time with this very peculiar group of friends.