Night Owls bookstore is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away as possible from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren. She’s experienced that life, and the price she paid was far too high for her to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safekeeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors…
About the Author
Lauren M. Roy started out as an independent bookseller, moved on to Hachette Book Group (where she has been a telephone sales representative for ten years), and is now completing her bookselling hat trick as an author.
She has done some freelance writing for tabletop role-playing games, including Dragon Age, Trail of Cthulhu, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Lauren lives in southeastern Massachusetts with her husband, their cats, and the ghosts of houseplants she forgets to water. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise, the science fiction and fantasy writers’ workshop. Night Owls is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
Father Value had taught Elly everything she knew about living to see another day. His number one lesson, drilled into her over and over since childhood, was: Never get cornered by a Creep. Which was precisely what she was trying not to do as she pelted down the kind of alleyway that tended to host muggings or murders. She figured if someone popped out of the shadows demanding her wallet, she’d toss it to him and keep running. Maybe the Creep would let her go and gnaw on the thief counting her money instead.
Not likely. Her knapsack slammed into the small of her back with every jolting step. The item within pretty well guaranteed an extended chase.
Father Value had taught her other things, just as important: Always carry something silver and pointy. And, If one happens to be nearby, virgins make excellent fodder. Creeps found the flesh of the chaste particularly tasty. It might not be the nicest tactic, but when it was a choice between your own hide or someone else’s, well, she’d been raised as a survivor, not a savior.
Elly had lost her own virginity when she was sixteen. She was never quite sure which desire had been stronger—wanting to get in Billy Chambers’ pants, or wanting to make herself less delectable to the Creeps. It came in handy a few weeks later, though, when Billy became one of them himself right before her eyes. The fact that she’d been deflowered kept him from leaping upon her immediately, and it bought her those few heartbeats she’d needed to reach for her Silver and Pointy and drive it into his chest.
They said you never forgot your first. Every time she thought of Billy, it was his blood on her hands that she remembered, not his come on her thighs. Not so warm and fuzzy, as memories went.
For the most part, she stuck to Father Value’s teachings. After all, they’d kept her alive so far, even if some were steeped more in superstition than survival. Would the universe really notice if, just once, she didn’t leave three strands of hair on the windowsill during a full moon? Would the Creeps win by default if she just wiped up the salt she spilled and didn’t fling some over her shoulder?
Those were things she probably should’ve asked Father Value to clarify, but she’d never gotten around to it, and now he was dead. The police had declared it an accident, but Elly knew exactly what had killed him. The old man had broken one of his own cardinal rules when it came to the Creeps: If you have something they want, sometimes it’s best to hand it over.
That way, you had a chance to live another day.
So what could be so important about this damned book that Father Value had died trying to keep it out of the Creeps’ hands?
And how stupid was she, that she’d gone and stolen it back to find out?
Her feet slapped along the pavement, the other end of the alley getting closer with every ragged breath. She felt like she’d been running for hours; her lungs burned, her muscles screamed in protest. But Creeps didn’t get tired like humans did, and if she slowed down now, the one behind her wouldn’t even have to break his stride to scoop her up.
She burst out of the alley, casting about frantically for somewhere to go. During the summer, this strip of the beach road would be filled with tourists until all hours. But Labor Day had come and gone and the clam shacks and clubs closed up early. She didn’t even bother looking both ways as she streaked across the street.
Two choices: the bus stop or the pier, both of them deserted. The bus stop was well lit, but that wouldn’t deter the Creep. The water, though . . .
Elly’s footsteps thumped hollowly along the wooden planks. For a moment, she fostered the impossible hope that the Creep wouldn’t venture out with her at all, that he’d stand at the place where sand met dock and be unable to follow—did the ocean count as running water? Then she’d just have to wait until morning, until the sunrise drove him back to his hidey-hole.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
So much for hope.
Thirty feet on, Elly ran out of pier. She spun around, shrugging the backpack off so it slipped from her shoulders. She held it in one hand, dangling it over the water as the Creep closed the distance.
“That’s close enough.” Too close, in fact. She could smell him—wood shavings and rancid meat, making her want to gag. He wore the hood up on his sweatshirt, so most of his face was in shadow. But the tip of his snout protruded out from it: thin, angular. Sharp-tipped teeth glinting in the dim light. The better to eat her with.
Or tear out her throat, then eat her with.
The Creep stopped. He held out his hands and spoke in a dusty, raspy voice: “Give it to me and I’ll let you live.”
“No.” She took another half step back, feeling the edge of the dock beneath her heels. “Leave me alone, or I’ll drop it.”
“Do that and you’ll die.”
She let the bag dip lower, until the tails of the adjustable straps touched the water. “Maybe. But you still won’t have your book. Something that old, it’s not going to survive half a minute in salt water. And you can’t go in after it, can you?” Her heart slammed. She should give it to him. She should give it to him and live another day, just like Father Value had always taught her.
But she remembered Father Value’s broken body, how small he’d looked beneath that sheet. The accident report said the fall had killed him, that all those shattered bones were consistent with a dive from several stories up. Bullshit. The Creeps had worked him over before they’d pitched him over the side. Elly only hoped he’d taken a couple out first. For the thousandth time since it happened, she wondered if things might have been different if they hadn’t decided to split up.
The plan was solid. Even now, she knew she’d have made the same calls as Father Value had. Plans can go bad, Eleanor. That was one of his lessons, too.
Was the Creep standing in front of her one of the ones that did it? If he hadn’t pushed the old man to his death, had he been there to witness it? Had he laughed in that dry voice while Father Value’s life bled out on the pavement?
Headlights flashed along the road, their beams reflecting out over the water: the bus, on its late-night circuit. It trundled down the hill toward the stop.
Elly edged to her left, keeping the backpack out over the water. “You stay right here. Take one goddamned step and I’ll drop it.”
The Creep glared. His eyes caught the moonlight, two spots of amber glinting beneath his hood. But he didn’t move to snatch at her as she inched past him and back toward the beach. “We’ll find you,” he said, turning to watch her retreat. “And it will go as well for you as it did for the old man.” Those leathery lips peeled back into a grin. He sounded eager for that day to come. “Always remember you had a choice.”
“Screw you.” She backed up as quickly as she dared, feeling her way along so she wouldn’t have to take her eyes off him. At last, her sneakers sank into the coarse sand. Only then did she put her back to the Creep, as she took off toward the bus.
“Wait! Wait! Oh please, wait.” Father Value had always said she had a hell of a set of lungs. Her voice echoed off the closed-up clam shacks and the shops across the way. With every step, she expected the Creep’s hands on her shoulders, yanking her back. She put on one last burst of speed as she reached the sidewalk, hollering for all she was worth at the idling bus.
The driver heard her. He waited, one hand on the lever that opened and closed the doors, a grin splitting his face. She imagined what she must look like to him, winded and windblown, her mouse brown hair in wild disarray from her run. Her clothes were old and oft repaired, but clean. No one would have called her intimidating at a glance; usually they saw her petite frame and dismissed the possibility of danger altogether. That was usually their mistake. With the bus driver now, it worked to her advantage.
“Didn’t want to say good-bye to your boyfriend until the absolute last minute, eh?”
Fumbling for her wallet, Elly followed his gaze. Out at the end of the dock, the Creep’s silhouette was visible against the moonlit waves. He could have caught her. It wasn’t even a matter of him worrying that the bus driver might see and interfer. He let me go because they like to hunt. This was a head start to him, nothing more. She shuddered and fed a fistful of quarters into the collection box.
That had been another of Father Value’s lessons: Always carry bus fare.
The bus rolled into Edgewood a little after two a.m. It had picked up a few more passengers after Elly’s frantic boarding, mostly college kids coming off closing shifts at restaurants and coffeehouses. Elly watched them as they pulled out their cell phones and texted their friends or dragged huge textbooks into their laps for some after-hours studying.
She wasn’t much older than they were, and yet their world was so alien to her. She’d tried hanging out with normal kids once, a couple of years before. It had been easy enough to slip into the party, which had overflowed from the house into the street. All Elly’d had to do was walk in the door. Whenever anyone asked, she’d said she was “Mark’s friend.” No one had challenged her, which meant either there really was a Mark, or the other partygoers were also only loosely acquainted with the house owners.
She’d lasted maybe ten minutes.
She’d walked into the kitchen and plucked a beer out of a basin filled with ice. She’d stood at the edge of a gaggle of people and listened to the guy in the center holding court. She’d even laughed with the rest of them when he got to the punch line of his story.
But soon enough she found herself eyeing the doors and windows, planning exit routes and scoping out the décor for likely weapons. Silver and Pointy was a reassuring weight along her forearm. Her long sleeves hid the sheathed spike—she couldn’t help but wonder what people would say if they saw it.
She couldn’t help but wonder if she’d need it.
The walls had started closing in then, and from the sidelong glances the others were giving her, she knew she’d gotten twitchy. In the end, she’d deposited her half-drunk beer on an end table and fled out into the night before anyone could question her.
Father Value hadn’t known how to comfort her when she came home with red-rimmed eyes, hiccuping out her story between sobs. Not that she’d expected him to understand. That sort of life hadn’t ever been his.
That was what you gave up, being one of Father Value’s kids: being like everyone else.
Elly managed to hold it together on the bus ride, at least. She’d chosen a seat near the emergency window, the one you could pop out if the bus rolled over or plunged into a lake. If the Creeps decided to descend upon them, she had the instructions to get out of there memorized.
But that wasn’t the Creeps’ MO.
She made sure she was in the middle of the weary pack of late-shift workers when they disembarked in Edgewood. Anything looking to pounce on her would have to go through the coeds first, and while that wouldn’t buy her her life, it’d give her the opportunity for a good running start.
The streets were quiet, for the most part. Light spilled onto the sidewalk halfway down the main drag from a smattering of still-open shops. A coffeehouse, maybe, and probably a copy shop. The college kids shuffled along in that direction, headed for the campus on the other side of town. Elly had to fight the urge to shadow them—there was safety in numbers, and odds were at least one of them was a virgin.
But her destination was the other way, toward the huge white house on the outskirts of Edgewood. With a sigh, she turned away from the cluster of bodies and toward the one place Father Value had said might take her in.
She practiced speeches as she waited for someone to answer: I’m sorry it’s so late, sir, and I’m sorry to be leading monsters to your door. But when the silver-haired woman answered, all Elly could manage was, “Um, hi.”
Even though it was almost two thirty in the morning, the woman was dressed in jeans and a sweater, her hair pulled back in a bun. She might have been about to go out for a late dinner or a PTA meeting, to look at her. She regarded Elly with impatience. “Office hours don’t begin until eight, young lady.”
“Um,” Elly said again. “I’m not a student.” She shrugged off her backpack and held it to her chest as she opened the zipper. “I’m sorry to bother you so late, ma’am, but I need to speak to Professor Clearwater right away.” She let only the corner of the book show, enough so the woman could see that it was old. “A . . . a friend of his sent me.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed. For a moment, Elly was sure she was about to have the door slammed shut in her face. She choked down despair—she had nowhere else to go.
Then the woman’s shoulders sagged and the harshness left her eyes. “You’re one of his, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
“My name’s Elly Garrett. Father Value said that if I needed help, I could come to Professor Clearwater. Please, is he home?”
The woman shook her head. “Not at the moment, no. But if you’re here, alone . . . You’d best come inside.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Clearwater.”
The woman chuckled, a low, rueful sound. “Call me Helen. If things are as bad as I think they are, we may as well dispense with the formalities.”
“What do you mean, as bad as they are?”
Helen pursed her lips, as though searching for a delicate way to put it. “He kept Henry at a distance these last few years. For his ward to show up at our door in the middle of the night, I’d imagine the situation has to be particularly dire.” She stepped back so Elly could get past her, then shut the door and turned the lock. Her hand fell gently on Elly’s shoulder. “Otherwise . . . Tell me, Elly. Is Father Value . . . ?”
“Dead,” she said, and the weight of the last two nights crashed down on her at last. She tried taking a deep breath, but it turned into a sob. Another followed, then another. All she could see were Father Value’s eyes, cold and staring—the only part of his face she could even recognize under the blood and bruises.
Then Mrs. Clearwater—Helen—was there, pulling her into an embrace and murmuring nonsense words as she stroked Elly’s hair.
That set off another spate of tears. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had held her like that, not even Father Value. No, that wasn’t true. She could remember, but it only dredged up a deeper hurt.
“I’m sorry,” she said after a while. She wrangled hold of the sadness and fear coursing through her and gave Helen a watery smile.
“Don’t be. Let’s get you some tea, and you can give me the short version before Henry gets home.”
Elly lifted her pack from where she’d dropped it and followed Helen further into the house. The pack felt heavier than it had before. I thought burdens were supposed to get lighter when you shared them.
Only, she wasn’t feeling any relief. Elly looked out a window into the night. Somewhere out there, the Creeps were coming. A day, maybe two, and they’d find her here. They wouldn’t be kind to anyone aiding her.
Burdens might get lighter, but guilt? Guilt bears down harder.
First thing in the morning, I’ll go.
Excerpted from "Night Owls"
Copyright © 2014 Lauren M. Roy.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"Night Owls is a fast, fun read that kept me turning the pages. Lauren M. Roy delivers a plot that zips, dialogue that zings, and a cast of characters you'll cheer for to the very end. Thumbs up!"—Devon Monk, national bestselling author of Cold Copper
"Filled with great characters and action. Can't wait to read the next one!"—Keri Arthur, New York Times bestselling author of Darkness Splintered
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Our Review by LITERAL ADDICTION's Pack Alpha - Chelle *eARC received from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review --Actual rating 3.5 Skulls Night Owls takes place in a semi-closed society. Our heroine, Val, a bookstore owner who used to be a Hunter (and is a vampire), tries to exist quietly with her Renfield Chaz and a group of unlikely allies, a couple of succubi, 2 ex Brotherhood members, and a human until a group of vicious, bloodthirsty Jackals come to town and the entire gang must go on the offensive. The book was well written, it had delightful characters, interesting world building, fun dialogue, and some cool twists. Did I love it? No. Was it worth the read. Certainly. Miss Roy deserves kudos for coming into a genre so steeped in material that it is hard to find something unique with exactly that, some new material. She also takes us back to the old days of Urban Fantasy where there really was no romance. It was all about the world, the characters and the story arc. Even though I personally didn't love it, it was very enjoyable and looks to be an exciting start to a great new urban fantasy series. I'll definitely tune in for book #2.
In the new series by Lauren M. Roy, the main characters, Elly and Val are as different as night and day but they are both Night Owls. Eleanor has grown up under the tutelage and care of Father Value, a black sheep member of the mysterious Brotherhood. Elly’s entire life has been a lesson in survival. Father Value taught her to fight and ultimately how to destroy the evil supernatural beings known as Jackals (which reminded me of a variant of werewolf). When Father Value is murdered by a Jackal over possession of an ancient and magical book, Elly’s first instinct is to steal it back. With her mentor gone, Elly has no place to turn except the home of a former member of the Brotherhood and friend of her foster father. With the Jackals in hot pursuit, Elly runs to the community of Edgewood where she hopes she can hide the book. Valerie McTeague owns a bookstore in the same town named Night Owls. Val, a recluse vampire, caters to the late night college crowd. When Elly’s contact brings the mysterious volume to Night Owls for safe keeping, it‘s placed in the locked rare book room. The Jackals sniff out its location, igniting a chain of events that causes these two women’s paths to collide and sets the stage for a supernatural showdown of epic proportions. I took this book on vacation with me and I was totally absorbed. Lauren M. Roy’s debut is terrific, and I am already impatient to continue reading the next in her new series featuring these two charismatic ladies. Elly is my favorite. On one hand she is the ultimate killing machine and the other she is a socially awkward young lady who has never known what it’s like to just be “normal”. Val is cool, compassionate and completely badass. She has a close relationship with her human servant, Chaz, but one clouded with secrets. Their relationship was well written, but Chaz was the weakest component of this story for me. Although he is loyal and protective of Val, it took me most of the book before I finally warmed up to him. Val’s other interesting associates include lesbian succubi, leaders of a group of Boston Vampires known as the Stregoi, and Cavale, a warlock with a mysterious past. These characters added layers of amusement, volatility, and promise to the mix. I really enjoyed sharing this adventure with these ladies and their cohorts and look forward to more to come. If Night Owls were a real bookstore, I would apply for a job immediately just so I wouldn't miss any of the excitement.
I enjoyed it. A slightly different take on vampires, werewolves, and monster hunter societies.
Exceptional Debut worth reading! It is: Thrilling. Good book for: Book Clubs, Rainy Days, Gift Giving and Permanent Libraries. Can't wait for book 2 come out by this Author.
There is nothing obviously wrong with this book. The plot is pretty quick and it walks a fine line between being familiar enough not to scare people off while being new enough that it should keep you interesting. The characters involved are realistic enough that you believe that they could exist in this insane situation. And this is one of the only times recently that I have read a book in which vampires are treated in a way that is intelligent and doesn't make me want to hurl. All that being said this book just doesn't jell. There's nothing about it that says why I couldn't get into it because it has all the write ingredients, and the writing isn't bad, but somehow it just doesn't work well enough to make it a good book.
A debut worth reading! The narrative was well-paced and the characters complex, yet accessible. I highly recommend the book and I eagerly await thnext indtallment!
Very twisty and interesting plot, Diverse original characters with plenty of baggage and fight in them! Read it within a 24 hr period. Lots of fun!
Promising urban fantasy series Night owls didn’t disappointed me at all, i admit at time it was a bit confusing as the author switch of characters point of view and setting when we still don’t know all the characters yet but if you don’t give up for that it gets better and better after each chapters. I really loved the bunch of characters so different and at the same time wanting the same thing: a quiet life ( and obviously not getting it) I must say that i prefer Cavale a little bit as he sound to be the most reasonnable from the group. Elly is young and unexperiencied in social relation which make her a little to straight forward but we get to like her netherless... i’m still a little unsure about her though...she seems very sharp ( seeing that strangely they all came to that city without speaking to each other about it and at the same time completly closed up and obtuse when it comes to her own past) . I do like the magic Elly and Cavale are using, they are a combinaison of fighter and magic user and they don’t exactly use the same magic either so i would love to read more on that as well. Val is a vampire and and booksellers ( yes the fact that there was a bookstore is another thing that sold me the book^^;; i can be predictable yes) , she was ( still is) a warrior , called hunter in that world, but after a tragic past event she wants a normal quiet life with Chaz her human follower, so loyal and master of his own mind. She doesn’t want to take part in vampire feud and politic ( really after living so long it’s a wonder why they still go at it like that). The rythm is just the one we need to be kept inside the story and not lost , the action is fast paced but we do get info on each character which is really welcome... so while this isn’t fully original it’s a very enjoyable story. I really loved that the end was only a kind of cliffhanger making me smile, wanting to read the next book but at the same time if it hadn’t been possible it wouldn’t left me in anguish state as we can imagine how it will go as well. If you want a good urban fantasy debut you can try this one!
Hate cliffhanger ending.
I hate half reviews are kid chats
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