Val is a vampire, running her bookshop with Chaz, her Renfield and living a normal life – very normal, away from all the messiness of vampire politics or of her past
Until Elly enters her life. Elly, protégé of the great hunter, Father Value, has a book that the old hunter gave his life to acquire – a book that may hold the key to the Jackals (or Creeps) increasing their dwindling numbers. Since the Jackals are monsters who eat human flesh with a special taste for virgins, no-one really wants that.
But the Jackals are very eager to get their prize back and as they amass in greater and greater numbers, Val and Elly have to take greater risks and make some dubious deals to keep the book safe.
Especially since the book has decided to lodge part of itself in a college student that they’d both rather didn’t die.
That was fun.
Which is odd, because this book is also pretty involved with several well developed characters who are interesting and nuanced, more than a few difficult and fuzzy situation and a decent plot that draws all of them together. Such books tend to be deep or interesting or fascinating or exciting – but they don’t tend to be fun. They don’t usually have the lightness to them to be fun.
Night Owls is fun. It manages to hit that balance that keeps all the dark, heavy scenes and all their impact – while still keeping a lightness that is fun which is really really hard to do. Usually one or other has to be sacrificed
The star of the book – and this balance – was the characters. We had a number of characters and I honestly can’t pick a protagonist – either Val or Elly are prime candidates. But all characters have some depth and motivation behind them giving them a strong history and strong presence and motivation. There’s Val with her past as a hunter, bad experience with vampire clans and general wish to lead a nice, peaceful life – which is so much BETTER than a legion of Musty vampires we’ve seen who randomly decide to normalise for some random, ill-defined and ill-explained guilt. Elly has just forcibly been ripped from under the shadow of Value, her mentor and a truly great hunter; she has an excellent mindset of finding her future, her chosen past while at the same time having her hero-worship of her former father-figure slowly chipped away. Both these character’s experiences and growth are showcased through others – Chaz, the Renfield and in many ways the very avatar of Val’s normality and Cavale, another former student of Value’s whose anger brings home to Elly their mentor’s flaws as well as underscoring how ill prepared she is for the world. But even these characters have their own motivations and issues that go beyond mere extensions of the characters they complete.