Monday, January 7, 2019

The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

In a small village in New York lives Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she's more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.

But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her—even from her new and trusted friends—the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn't help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she's lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.

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Book 9
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I don't know what to say about book nine in the Charley Davidson series, except it isn't my favorite book. Maybe this should be titled Janey and the Diner as that would be more closely matched to the subject of the story.

After book eight, I don't know what I was expecting, but it was NOT this. Charley is nowhere to be found. We've been transported to New York (from Arizona) and all of the friends seem to be here too. This book lacked the normal sass of Charley, the excitement of the investigations, the steam of Reyes. There wasn't much scenery, as this entire story (until the last few chapters) took place in the Twilight Grill. As disappointed as I was on the whole, the last few chapters made this a three-star read.

FINALLY some action happens, and we meet the evil demon Kuur (sent from Hell). Not only do we meet him, but we learn some really interesting facts about all the dimensions, Heaven, Hell, and the origins of the gods that we know.

This story just felt totally different from the rest of the series, and I was happy to be done with it. I'm hoping that book 10 will resume Charley's normal antics.

Well, with the ending of the last book, I really didn't know what to expect.

I felt so sorry for Reyes in this book, that's not something I've said in this series before.

Charley has no idea who she is; however, she is still herself at her core. She is still helping people and solving cases.

It really was hard to watch Charley struggling in this book.

She thinks she is alone, but little does she know that the whole gang is there for her.

This was another great book in the series, on to the next book.

I love that this book pushes the reset button on the whole series. The whole supernatural storyline is put on hold while Charley suffers from amnesia and restarts her life in Sleepy Hollow.

Nothing about this series is plausible, so the daytime soap amnesia storyline at the centre of this book isn’t really any stranger than the storylines about angels, gods, demons, and the Grim Reaper.

I’d started to dislike Charley in book seven and I have to say that I like her much better with amnesia. Charley with amnesia is vulnerable and resourceful and capable. I still don’t understand the purpose of her friends and family members all moving to New York to support her (without telling her anything about herself), but I liked getting to see everyone from a fresh perspective.

I have to admit that I didn’t completely follow the storyline about Mr. V and his family but I found the stalker storyline quite creepy. The last scenes in this book perfectly pull this story into the wider story arc and there is one horrible sacrifice at the end that made me cry.

This book does reset the series and it also reset my interest in the series. The writing is tighter and the characters are more clear. And Charley is likeable again. This book is a somewhat bizarre interlude from the main story in New Mexico but it works and it pulls an increasingly unwieldy series back together.

3.5 Stars

The Dirt on Ninth Grave is obviously the ninth installment of the Charley Davidson series. I strongly suggest against reading it as a standalone, as well as every other book in the series. Please read in series order for the maximum payoff with world-building, as well as with relationship and character building.

To say I struggled would be an understatement, not that the novel wasn't an easy, quick read for me. Just as I'm struggling with the series as a whole and this review itself. I'm conflicted on how I feel, because a part of me is so close to just throwing in the towel, but a larger part of me is going to stick this out until the end. Not for Charley, but for the rest of the cast, whom I've come to hold in high affection.

This plot didn't go where I expected, so I'll give the author that. With an amnesia premise – which I have never been a fan of, whether it be a book or in a soap opera – I expected something vastly different than was delivered.

Charley was more mature, adult-like, which I've been praying for since book four or five, but it's a false sense of maturity, as she didn't evolve her character but simply has amnesia. So it didn't feel like I was reading a Charley Davidson novel because her personality is what makes it a Charley Davidson novel. Losing one's memories shouldn't alter their personality, as that is innate. It's her narcissism under the guise of being selfless, along with her immaturity that rub me raw time and time again throughout the series – her grim reaping and familial, relationship, and friendship bonds are what keep me coming back. I am holding out hope to see REAL character evolution and maturity, where Charley acknowledges her actions have far-reaching consequences affecting more than just herself.

Charley helps a town solve mysteries, which I felt was odd, since they don't know her any more than she knows them, so where is this trust coming from? It just falls into her lap too conveniently. Anyway, it didn't feel like Charley, and I knew these people and this place has ZERO to do with the series as a whole, so for everything but the ending of the novel, I knew it didn't truly matter what happened on the pages, as it was simply...


A detour.

Not Charley.

After giving nine books worth of my time, I felt let down, simply because by this far in the series, with only a small handful left in the series, the focus should be on propelling us toward the conclusion, not things of zero consequence.

I have much hope for the next installment, but I do believe some of this is on me. Attempting to read such a long-standing series in the span of a few weeks' time in anticipation for the final installment, versus the ability to read when the craving struck, when I wasn't raw or annoyed by the direction a few of the plots and the characterization had taken. So that is on me, as normally, if I read as a book was released, I would have looked forward to the next in the series, knowing I would only get one or two per year. But being slightly annoyed and having to start the next novel straight away, that affects my mood and overall enjoyment, and that is most definitely on me.

This is (not surprisingly) the ninth book in the series – and you most definitely need to read them in order to have any hope of understanding even a small part of this book. Never was that statement more true!

I only read book eight a week or so ago, but when catapulted into Sleepy Hollow, I was truly confused (admittedly I have read five books in between and it is Christmas, so busy!). A quick reread of the last few pages reminded me of the crazy ending and that Charley had transported herself there whilst in great distress. Sadly, she still doesn't remember who she is, and in spite of being surrounded by all her family and friends who have moved to support her... but will not tell her who she is due to her sister, Gemma, saying it will be bad for her. I have to admit that it got old quickly. Partly because not all the characters are named as they are in every other book, so the reader has to work it out... and I just found that annoying. There were no reminders anywhere, as we are as in the dark as poor Janey/Charley/Dutch.

The amnesia idea was fun for a little while, then I just got frustrated. Thankfully, Reyes and Cookie were consistently good reading, although I disagreed with their decision. What's more, when we get to the big conclusion, which did reveal more of what we need to know, the person who finally gives her her memory back does so at an enormous personal cost – and which felt too soon.

I am going straight into book 10, as I can't risk breaking the momentum. I am very hopeful that Charley is in better form and finally grows a little more responsible. I also want the humour back, as really the laughs were not plentiful in this installment.

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Darynda Jones is the winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Novel for her manuscript First Grave on the Right. Darynda can't remember a time when she wasn't putting pen to paper. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than twenty-five years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson #9) by Darynda Jones to read and review.

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