Grave Secrets (The Lavington Windsor Mysteries #1) by Alice James

GraveSecretsMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Sookie Stackhouse meets Bridget Jones

Grave Secrets is the start of a new series involving romance, vampires, murder and necromancy.  I requested this one because it promised something fun and light and in that respect it does exactly what it sets out to do.

Toni (Lavington) Windsor is a real estate agent from Staffordshire.  By day she’s a bubbly, vivacious character with a head full of curls and snippy comebacks – at night she sneaks into the local graveyard to raise the dead.  Toni is a necromancer, she has to keep her strange ability to herself because necromancers are feared and hated in equal measure by vampires who in the past have hunted them down and killed them whenever possible.  And, yes, vampires are an accepted part of this world.  They live in the open (in Europe at least) and have an accord that allows them to live amongst humans (although there was a lot of deaths in this book alone that did give me pause for thought about how comfortably the two really can live together).  As the story begins Toni is seeking a property for a vampire, a hot, sexy vampire who wants a remote property with lots of cellar space.  At the same time Toni begins to experience trouble, people trying to kidnap her and all sorts of other shenanigans and the body count starts to rise.

This was a fun read, fast paced, a trifle silly maybe in places, but it was the sort of light popcorn read that I wanted at that particular time and so it fit the bill.  I did have a few issues and at this point I’m not entirely sure if those can be laid at the door of first ‘book in series syndrome’.  I would probably pick up No.2 to see how things develop though.

Firstly, the plot. It felt a little scattered to me.  There is a mystery but it mostly revolves around vampire politics, not a cosy murder mystery which is the vibe I was originally picking up.  That being put to one side, I enjoyed the writing style and the injection of humour and the pace definitely has legs.

The characters.  Well, and this does sometimes happen for me, I found myself liking the peripheral characters rather than the main couple.  So, for example, I really liked one of the characters that Toni kept raising from the grave, and I liked the old lady with the chocolate box cottage who loved to bake, but I felt that Toni was very blaize towards people in general, death and the like didn’t seem to really have an impact on her and considering some of the scrapes she got into I think I would have liked to see a bit more emotion.  That, together with the instantaneous ‘love’ between Toni and the client she’s finding a house for didn’t really endear me to either of them.  Particularly as, whenever Toni was being harassed by the vampire ‘boss’ her would-be boyfriend seemed to be nothing more than an idle bystander.

In terms of the world building.  It’s a little skimpy.  I would like to know more about Toni’s abilities which for the moment seem to be accredited quite simply to the ‘some people can and some people can’t’ school of thought.  I don’t particularly have a problem with that and it’s possible that more information may be forthcoming as the series progresses.

I realise that probably all sounds a little negative, which isn’t really my intention.  I can see this building up into a good fun series . I think it need a few things ironing out, particularly with Toni and her boyfriend because I’m not buying into that particular romance at all at the moment, but, if the author succeeds in generating a little more chemistry and sizzle then this could be a winner for many readers.

A UK-style Sookie Stackhouse with a character not completely unlike Bridget Jones and a few vampire and zombies thrown in for good measure.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars



16 Responses to “Grave Secrets (The Lavington Windsor Mysteries #1) by Alice James”

  1. sjhigbee

    A great review, Lynn:). I enjoyed this one a bit more than you did – though I’ll grant you that Toni is very offhand about the characters around her and rather self centred. However, given the Agatha Raison reference in the blurb, I was expecting that vibe. I did enjoy the humour, though.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ahh, interesting, I haven’t read any Agatha Raisin, so maybe I would have been more clued in if that reference had meant more to me. I did enjoy this and I would read more to see how things progress.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Yes – I confess, I haven’t read the books, but I have seen the TV series, and she is an older version of Toni!

  2. Tammy

    I love the idea of a Sookie/Bridget mashup, but it seems like it didn’t quite get there. Still it would be interesting to see if the next book worked better for you😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I would try the second book to see how things move forward.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    A three-star rating for a “popcorn read” does not sound too bad at all – and I think the overall tone of the story might be surmised by the cover, with that cartoonish car taking down the gravestone as it runs along… 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Exactly, I think the cover gives a very good indication of what you can expect.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Maryam (@thecurioussffreader)

    This sounds like a lot of fun, it might not be the best book of the year but, sometimes I’m in the mood for some fun vampire books and it looks like it would probably work well for me then! 😉 Thanks for the review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, if you’re in the mood for something light then this could work well for you.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    This sounds interesting! I’m not sure if it’s a genre for me, but I definitely want to branch out into different kinds of mysteries and try them out.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It has a paranormal romance feel to it and the mystery plays a bit of a backseat really.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Ola G

    Sounds fun, and I totally relate to sometimes liking secondary characters more than protagonists! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yep, it’s not unheard of really. This was a fun read but the main character, Toni, feels a little self centred in some ways. I’m hoping she’ll change a little in the next book otherwise this probably won’t be a series for me.
      Lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    This sounds very relevant to my interests LOL! I might put this one on my list of things to check out. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, yes, this might be one for you. A bit of a romance, vampires and fun.
      I understand that the main character is a little like Agatha Raisin in that she’s a little self-centred which did put me off a little, but I would like to try the 2nd.
      Lynn 😀

  8. jessicabookworm

    Staffordshire you say? That’s my neck of the woods, although promise I am neither a vampire or been raising people from the dead! 😉I feel this could be like a supernatural Agatha Raisin series for me. 😏

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