I’ve read each of the ten (so far) Jane Yellowrock novels as they came out but I don’t usually bother with the short stories.
I sought out “Off The Grid”, which is just under two hours long in audiobook format, because it was referred to frequently in Faith Hunter’s latest novel “Blood Of The Earth” and I wanted to see what I’d missed.
The answer was a pretty good short story that liberates Jane from what I’m increasingly finding to be the claustrophobic world of Vampire politics by sending her on a mission to rescue a vampire that has been abducted by “God’s Cloud of Glory” a polygamist cult living off the grid in the Appalachians.
It was a little odd, reading the short story AFTER having read the novel that followed it, because I knew a lot more about the cult and Nell, the main character of “Blood Of The Earth”, a young woman with the weird magic who was raised in the cult but now lives outside it, than Jane does.
It had one unexpected benefit. It made me see how goal-focused Jane is. She’s all about the mission. Do whatever is necessary to get the vampire back. If that means pushing a young woman into danger and stripping away the privacy Jane knows is important to her, well, that’s just how life is.
I really enjoyed the tension between Jane and Nell. They are both tough in their own ways and yet both show compassion.
The short story is action-packed, yet Faith Hunter still finds time for character development. Jane’s vengeful reaction to the cult and the anger it brings out in her illustrate how other-than-human she has become, how outside the law she is and yet how she is still motivated to protect the week and take off the heads of those who do them harm.
We get an intriguing pen sketch of a vampire Jane nicknames “Yummy” who is a fierce, vengeful warrior, comfortable with her vampire nature, yet willing to offer comfort to women who have been abused. She also appears briefly in “Blood Of The Earth” and I hope she’ll be developed into a main character who will give a contrasting view of what it means to be a vampire.
And then there is Nell. This is a shadow of the Nell we meet in Soulwood. It’s the small part of herself that she let’s Jane see. Yet she is still intriguing.
If you’re familiar with Jane Yellowrock, then “Off The Grid” works as a stand-alone story that’s worth the couple of hours it takes. If you’re planning to read “Blood Of The Earth” you don’t have to read this story first but it is fun to read afterwards.