Monday, May 9, 2016

Wrong Side of the Grave (Mothman Mysteries #1) by Bryna Butler Review

Hey readers! Happy Monday to you all. I am so excited to bring you a review this evening that I've had on my TBR for almost a year. So awesome when you finally get a chance to read those books that have been teasing you, right? This time on the chopping block, Wrong Side of the Grave by Bryna Butler. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and our author:

When Eric Jansen takes a seat behind his drums, every girl in the place takes notice. Not that he’s surprised. He’s had decades to practice. The guy is almost perfect. Still, there’s that one tiny thing…

Eric Jansen is an alien. Offworlder. Take me to your leader, fall from the sky, space invading, phoning home, UFO jockey. A swipe of the tattoo on Eric’s arm will reveal his true form which locals call Mothman, a winged creature formed of ashen gray skin and glowing red eyes. Eric is one of the last of his kind.

So when the recently deceased of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, start walking and talking, the Men in Black mark him as suspect number one. It will be up to Eric and his inner circle to solve the mystery before the black suits lock him up and throw away the key.

A fun read, Wrong Side of the Grave is a fast-action Teen Sci-Fi Mystery with a paranormal twist.
Parent Approved: Contains no profanity or sexual content.

Bryna Butler 

Indie author Bryna Butler pens an outrageous take on the legend of the tooth fairy in her debut Midnight Guardian series. Butler’s young adult romance novels feature strong female leads and are woven from elements of comedy, horror, suspense, and mystery, all in a contemporary setting.

She is an accomplished financial corporate communications professional who authored hundreds of publications and press releases before her jump into teen and young adult fiction in 2010. Butler believes the heart of teen fiction is in creating realistic relationships with strong teens who feel the full consequences of their choices. Her work is considered “clean” making it appropriate for both teen and preteen readers.

Butler holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and was named Outstanding Communications Student of her graduating class at the University of Rio Grande. The idea for the Midnight Guardian series came to her in 2008 on a commute from her family farm to the nearby historic small town of Gallipolis, Ohio. [pronounced GAL-uh-POLICE].


My Thoughts:

I have to say, I really didn't know what to expect when I first picked up Wrong Side of the Grave. The synopsis really left me interested, but I didn't quite know where to place it in my head. It's definitely not something I'd ever read before, but I couldn't wait to take the plunge. What did I think? Well, it's complicated.

I guess I should start out by saying that I love paranormal, but I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan. When the genres cross paths, I've seldom seen good results. Thankfully, to my surprise, Butler pulled it off pretty well. You see, I love vampires. They're among my favorite of all paranormal creatures, but I'd never quite seen anything like what Butler has done to the trope. Vampires depicted as otherworldly beings? Now that's a twist.

This being said, I'm not entirely sure the vampire aspect was quite what I was looking for. Butler did a great job with the world building in this novel. Keeps the mysterious, yet historical setting for the novel at an incredible pace, giving readers just enough to keep them reading, but not spoiling any surprises until the very end. This is were the vampire-aspect of the characters gets a bit odd. In all actuality, I don't see why it was important for the characters in question to be vampires, because in the end, the fact that they are actually aliens is what drives the story. When it comes to vampires, you really have to hit the historical aspect pretty hard on the head (in most instances), but, aside from one scene, this one fell flat on the vampire-trope for me. 

Now that doesn't mean I didn't fall hard for the story, just don't go in expecting your standard run-of-the-mill vampire novel, because you will be disappointed, 

Now, the alien, other-worldly aspect of Wrong Side of the Grave? Butler killed it. Seriously. Alien technology, secret government agencies, hidden spaceships: what's not to like? As I mentioned before, I'm generally not a sci-fi fan, but Butler did a great job capturing my attention from the very beginning. 

Now that we've covered the genre aspect of the novel, let's talk about the story.

I have to say that I found the plot of WSotG to be very original. Butler has twisted an intriguing local legend (one that I even researched myself after reading) to craft a story that will delight readers young and old. I was genuinely surprised by the finale, but the exposition of the novel really created a literary world that left me flipping each page with anticipation. 

The plot was fun. It was a pretty quick read. If anyone has read any of my reviews in the past for mystery novels, you'll know that mysteries are one of my least favorites for a number of reasons. They are often entirely too dramatic, predictable, and leave me more than disappointed. I am so glad to say Butler passed the mystery test. They always say the culprit in a mystery is supposed to be the last person you suspect, and I have to say I didn't see the mystery Butler gave us to be unraveled as it did. 

As per the characters? I found them to be fairly relatable, but above all, realistic. I liked the characters sense of responsibility, but also their down-to-earth demeanor and maturity on most subjects. I'd really like to see more from Butler in the same vein as WSotG, as these characters were spot-on.

Now as you guys can see from the synopsis, this is a safe read for all ages. No sexual content, profanity, etc. That being said, I was actually kind of put off by how safe this read was. I give full respect to Butler for taking this approach as it is a great way to grab readers across all age groups, however I really would have loved to see this novel take a more adult direction. Rock stars in a small town high school? Attractive-otherworldly male lead? Corpses rising from the dead? I think this story could have really excelled as an upper-YA/NA or even adult series. While Butler does an incredible job appealing to all readers, I definitely believe an opportunity was missed here by not appealing to an older crowd. This is just my opinion. While I enjoyed the novel overall, I would have loved to see some adult content. Especially regarding language and adult content. At times WSotG read more like a middle-grade novel than a YA stories with Butler's word choices. 

Butler really hits on some deep themes in WSotG. Especially regarding death. It's a strong subject that takes a truly talented author to explore its' depths. Too many authors merely lay it out there with little-to-no explanation or explaining the psychological impact it can have on characters. Butler used these events to further explore the psyche of her characters to really allow the readers to get into their minds and enjoy their story even more. 

All of this being said, I was slightly let down by the ending of this one. Butler sets up the world for many more potential stories in the series, but we really don't have a clear vision if any are to come. I know that I would personally like to see more of this world expanded upon in future stories. As with most mysteries, the story does wrap up most loose ends and leaves you with a warm feeling in your bookish heart. 

As you can see, I had some conflicted thoughts on Wrong Side of the Grave. It may not have been my favorite novel in either of the genres that it dabbles in, but I was still most definitely impressed by the story as a whole. I look forward to what Butler does with this series in the future. That being said, I am granting Wrong Side of the Grave a 3.5-star review. While it wasn't without it's issues, it was still a fun, past-paced read that left me finishing each chapter with anticipation. If this sounds like the story for you, don't miss out. Add this to your TBR today!


Alright folks, that's all I've got for you on the topic of Wrong Side of the Grave by Bryna Butler. This was my first trip down the rabbit hole with Butler and I can definitely say I'll be trying more from her in the future. Be sure to add this one to your TBR today! I'd also like to note that Bryna has one of THE BEST author websites I've ever seen so be sure to head over for all kinds of awesome goodies and exclusive content! Thanks for stopping by! Until next time, Happy Reading!


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