Numerous authors are benefiting from the huge spike in vampire popularity since 2005 when Twilight broad-jumped onto the New York Times best-seller lists and took over YA fiction in one fell swoop. Carried along in the slipstream of Stephenie Meyer’s juggernaut are a variety of thriving paranormal romance or urban fantasy series featuring female protagonists involved with vampire boyfriends or lovers. Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series is typical of these. Destined for an Early Grave is the fourth book in a story arc that began in October, 2007 with Halfway to the Grave and continued with One Foot in The Grave (April 2008) and At Grave’s End (January 2009). The titles are available only in mass market paperback or Kindle editions and are being released about six months apart. Frost says on her website that she plans to do seven or eight books in this storyline, but she’s already begun a spin-off series starring secondary characters from the Night Huntress novels.
Frost’s universe and novels owe more to Buffy the Vampire Slayer than Twilight. The first book in the Night Huntress series introduces Catherine, or Cat, Crawford, who hunts and kills vampires out of sympathy for her mother, who hates vampires fervently. To her shock, Cat had finally learned that she is a half-vampire herself, born after her mother was tricked by a bloodsucking seducer, and her ultimate goal is to find and kill her undead father. As a rare “hybrid,” Cat has a number of extraordinary abilities, mostly related to enhanced senses, strength and agility. These don’t help her escape capture by a vampire bounty hunter, Bones, who trains her to assist him. Cat is pulled deep into a supernatural underground that includes vampires, demons, ghosts and ghouls, a government task force keeping the paranormal critters under control, elaborate inter-species politics, and a great deal of manipulative conniving. Amid all the adventure, Cat and Bones become lovers, and then “blood bond,” which is the vampire subculture’s equivalent of permanent, monogamous marriage.