Night Owls by Lauren M. Roy
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away as possible from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren. She’s experienced that life, and the price she paid was far too high for her to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural 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 safekeeping, 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.”
Okay, any book that takes place in a bookstore has my attention. Boy, I wish there had been a store like this when I was in college—I’d have definitely worked there! The setting is guaranteed to appeal to all book-geeks like me. Night Owl Books is open extremely late, carries all kinds of cool books, and even has a rare book room. Plus, it’s run by a friendly vampire. What’s not to like?
There are some fairly typical fantasy elements at play here: super-secret organizations that fight monsters; books that hold magical secrets in strange languages; kindly professors with esoteric interests; and so on. I’m not saying that these things make the book trite or boring, but you’re sure to see some familiar tropes here that are combined in a way that’s fun to read.
I would have liked some more background on the Jackals (or Creeps, as Elly calls them). Most of the other creatures are common enough not to need explanation, like vampires or succubi, but Creeps are something new. I’m certainly willing to grant an author the right to make up their own things that go bump in the night, but I do want them to have some reason for existing.
Something that amused me was a running reference to Sacramento. Apparently, Val was part of a hunting group in Sacramento where something went horribly wrong, and the details are dangled in front of us for most of the book. We do eventually get the gist of the tale, thus saving it from becoming like the Calvin and Hobbes “noodle incident”, and it both explains why the story takes place back East and also seems to sow the seeds of maybe heading out West in a future novel.
Night Owls was a decent read with some unique monsters and a good dollop of action. I’ll be curious to see what the author does with this story next, and very curious to see if her characters head out our way.