A little over a year after the last Charley Davidson book came out, Darynda Jones revisited her characters (or what’s left of them) with a brand new novella, The Graveyard Shift, which came out yesterday. This novella, which can be read as a standalone, is part of the multi-author 1001 Dark Nights series. Hence, it is not necessary to have read the 13 Charley novels before getting into Garrett Swopes’ story.
However, from a Charley reader point of view, this was a huge, enormous bonus because I have missed these characters so much!
How much? Well, let’s take it this way: a paragraph talking about Uncle Bob without naming him had me squeeing very loudly in my living room, thus waking Mambo (the cat), who was sleeping completely at the other end of the apartment. Then seeing Robert and Cookie again had me welling up. Afterwards, a scene with Elwyn, Donovan, Eric, and Michael had me outright bawling my eyes out from sheer emotion, and seeing Angel again just after having dried my tears had me bawling all over again (then laughing, but that’s a detail).
The novella is Garrett-centred, but!
Yes, the novella is about Garrett Swopes, skiptracer extraordinaire, hot as Hades dark-skinned and silver eyed hunk, and integral part of Beep’s Army. Beep, a precocious five-year-old, daughter of two gods (Charley and Reyes) who prefers being called by her real name, Elwyn, who just up and disappeared in front of Garrett’s very eyes.
To help find her, Garrett has no other choice but to ask the only person who could help him, the one he swore he would never get involved with again: his ex and mother of his son, Marika. That is the Garrett-centred part, and the love story which comes with it.
Nevertheless, the quest to find Elwyn answers many questions that Charley readers have had, including the very last sentence of Summoned to Thirteenth Grave: “Where is Osh?” For some, the answer will come as a complete surprise. In my case, as I said in my Goodreads review, it was something I thought had happened, but the how remains something that surprised me.
How is Cookie coping since Charley and Reyes are gone? That is another question that I had prior to this read. After all, even though Charley and Reyes have been gone for five years, Cookie was still like a sister to the Grim Reaper and she and Robert loved her deeply. She is still the same, although her BFF being gone took a toll on her.
So yes, the novella is Garrett-centred, but for the Charley readers, it is a visit to old and very dear friends, five years after the end of their last adventure together.
Out of the park
I’ll start by the only negative part of my review: it was too short!! I do love novellas, because they are to the point and still contain loads of action. However, when it involves characters that I love and hold dear in my reader’s heart, they always end up being too short, no matter how much I stall while reading them. Such is the case of The Graveyard Shift. I would’ve taken much, much more, for those reasons.
This said, my saying that it was way too short is also a compliment to Darynda Jones’ writing, because she really, seriously knocked it out of the park with that story! It was impossible not to fall head over heels in love with the five-going-on-five-thousand Elwyn, whom we had last seen as a wee baby, or to be all sorts of happy seeing the Hellhounds again (and she named them all!).
It was also impossible not to die of cute with the part of the Osh doll, or having a mushy smile when I found out about the bracelet Osh had made for Elwyn.
All the components of the Charley stories were there: coffee, departed souls, Cookie’s dubious fashion sense, the sense of extended family, demons, everything! And laughs and emotions and more laughs, which made me only looking even more forward to Darynda’s return to this world, which might or might not be The Gravedigger’s Son, another 1001 Dark Nights novella which will feature Amber and Quentin and will come out on 11 May, 2021.
May or may not? Yes. Because as Darynda mentioned in a quick Facebook live on her author page, it is possible that the first book (book, not novella) of Elwyn’s and Osh’s story will come out before that novella.
Are there more surprises in the novella? Of course, and I will not tell you about it! For this, you have to read until the very end. I will only say that it involved another moment of squeeing so loud that I woke up the cat.
A much deserved five stars! ✰✰✰✰✰
My Goodreads review
The Graveyard Shift by Darynda Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Forgive me if a squee for half an hour, then cry for half an hour more, then laugh for an hour, then cringe (some descriptions were pretty vivid, you know), then sit on the edge of my seat, then reread everything again and again.
Have I missed Charley’s gang/Beep’s Army? Oh, yes!! It was with pleasure that I got reacquainted with them. When I saw Uncle Bob… sorry… Robert, and Cookie for the first time, then Donovan, Eric, and Michael, then Angel… I welled up. I love those characters so, so much!
I’m also glad to know what happened to Osh, and I have to say that I was partly right in what I thought. (That’s all I will say.)
And the coffee shop!!!
Can’t wait to see them characters again!!
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