Recently I’ve been listing to Darynda Jones, specifically her 12-book series about a woman who was born with the ability to see and talk to dead people (I don’t know if she’s done any other series).
I have listed to almost all of the twelve books, except for 2,11,12 and I’m listing to the 8th (look, I’m a weird person). So in this blog I’m going to tell you the rough idea of the plot, and my opinion of the series so far.
First thing when listing to an audiobook is if the reader is good, because if the reader is bad it can completely ruin the best of books, and the reader in this series is very good, with both female and male voices. For voices I haven’t had a moment of “wait who was that” and all the voices are very distinct and pleasing to listen to.
Now onto the actual bookie stuff. One of the first things you might be thinking about is if all of her books are good, I mean doing a series on the same subject for twelve straight books and keep readers interested seems like quite a hard feat. But Jones does it very well, and one of the ways she does it, is that the main character is also a detective of sorts. This book is also written with many small but funny jokes, like at the beginning of each chapter there’s a funny quote like “If one door closes and anther one opens you house is probably haunted”, and then puts at the end where its quoted from (meme, bumper sticker, T-shirt, and once in a while a person). Quotes aren’t the only funny thing in this book though. The main character always has something funny to say even in the direst of situations. The plot is also very strong although I’ve had a couple of moments thinking that what just happened was a little confusing. But considering it’s a series of twelve books, it’s very well done.
We’ll come back to the plot later but first I want to tell you about the main character and some others, then some things in the plot will make more sense.
The main character, known as Charlotte Davidson (she doesn’t like the name Charlotte though), Charlie Davidson (most of her friends call her Charlie), and Dutch (only Reus, her boyfriend/husband calls her that). As you may have noticed she goes by a lot of names, for our purpose we’ll call her Charlie.
The entire plot is effectively based on her and her powers. She starts off in the series with nothing horribly special, but she starts to grow into her powers as the series goes on.
Her basic powers slash the reason she’s on earth, is that she’s the Grim Reaper, but not in that way you’re thinking right now. You’re imagining a scary spooky skeleton with a hood and a scythe, well forget it (side note, most reapers in this world don’t live past the age of five and she is 25ish, reapers do their job after they’re dead, the reason she’s lived this long is because of another character that we’ll learn about). Her job is to help souls pass, but not all of them, most pass immediately after they die, but some that are murdered stay because they want their murder solved, and this is how Darynda keeps the books fresh. Or somebody will come to her private investigator business and ask her to solve a murder or disappearance. I’m describing it quite badly, but oh well. The way dead people find her is because to them she is really bright.
Now the way Charlie has survived for so long (compared to other reapers), is Reus, the son of Satan/Lucifer. Now its not as bad as you think. Luckily for the main character Reus fell in love with her. And he was born on earth so he could protect her. Because he saw her before she was even born he arrived on earth three years before. Because of this he was old enough to protect her. All did not go well for our little Reus though, when he was deciding a couple for him to be brought up by, he chose a nice couple but then life through two curve balls at him. First, he was abducted by a lady because she thought the mother was undeserving. Then because the cops were getting onto her she sold him to a very horrible person. Let’s just say that man liked boys more than women. When Reus is twenty he is thrown into jail for murdering that man (he didn’t do it), and after 10 years in jail he breaks out to prove his innocence. After that he moves in beside Charlie and then buys her dads bar and later in the series they marry.
Cookie… yep that actually somebody’s name in this series, she is a single mother, assistant of Charlie, and also Charlie’s best friend, also the comic relief of this book. She is slightly overweight and is clumsy and just all around good person. She and Charlie are constantly having funny discussions and getting themselves into trouble. Charlie and Cookie (also called Cook sometimes) bonded over many things, one being their absolute love of coffee. They drink wherever and whenever they want no matter what.
I can’t really explain her true personality, it just has a je ne sais quoi. Without Cookie this series would definitely be half baked.
Auch, a deva (slave demon) that fought like a gladiator for the amusement for the Hell hierarchy. He was the best of the best, so good in fact that in a hand to hand fight with pure skill he would be able to best Satan himself. He was allowed luxuries that other deva didn’t have. Eventually he escaped Hell to live on earth as a card dealer/player. Only his currency was whatever deal humans wanted for their souls (menacing isn’t it). Although he didn’t do just for a pass time, without souls to feed on his human form would die and he would be sent back to Hell. After Charlie met him, after some “persuasion” she convinced him to only feed on bad people, like murderer, rapists, and people who skip the line at movie theaters (ok, not people who skip lines). After some stuff happening he joins forces with Charlie.
Her father, an ex police detective whose career got greatly enhanced by the help of Charlie’s ability to see dead people (it helps when you can just ask the dead person who did it).
Her uncle, much like Charlie’s father her uncle is also a police detective and helps Charlie out with info that the police sources have. In turn Charlie solves mysteries for her uncle. Also, he is in love with Cookie and they eventually marry.
Her Sister, a psychiatrist and the “good sister”, also she was the pet of the stepmother.
Her stepmother, she doesn’t really appear to much in this series, but her actions affected the books a lot. She treated Charlie very horribly as a child while treating her sister like gold.
So that’s about it for the super main characters, there are lots of other character that mean a lot to this series, but I thought these where the ones that affect the book the most. I also admitted some characters as to not spoil all of the story.
The main plot starts off with Charlie meeting Cookie and the solve a murder of three lawyers. All through her childhood Reus took a for of a billowing smoky cloud (kind of like a classic grim reaper), she doesn’t know he is Reus, and as a child he is one of the only things she’s scared of, she called him the “Big Bad” (constantly having dead people talk to you probably creates a hard shell against scary stuff). She learns later who the “Big Bad” is, after finding out who Reus is they quickly fall in love.
The first big thing in the plot is Charlie and Reus proving that Reus is in fact not guilty of murder.
Then a friend of Charlie finds some prophecies (what would a fantasy book be without prophecies) about Charlie killing Satan, as you can imagine this is pretty flooring for Charlie, although the prophecies turn out to be slightly wrong later.
Now I know this doesn’t seem very exiting but for one I didn’t want to spoil the story for you, also the way the plot works in each book is that Charlie trying to solve one or two mysteries (she often does multiple in one book), and then the last hour or two (each book last 8 to 10 hours) is devoted to the “Big” plot (the one that lasts through all the twelve books).
I hope this convinced you to listen to the series, but I don’t know if I can really describe the genius of this series.