"Martin is very fast, Quietus nearly as so, but Pat lags behind at a very slow and human pace. So, Martin wheels and scoops them up in his arms. Pat squawks and slings a death grip around Martin's neck—but luckily Martin's already dead. . . . It's an anxiety [Martin] hasn't felt in years, that heady thrum in his chest, creeping up his throat, and he begins to fret, frantic and tearing, of things undone. Of Quietus, there for him and at his heels. Of Pat, a friendship begun and doomed in the same second. . . . Of how he really, really, really wanted to do this PodCon panel" (141).
E. G. Reger's Grave Mistakes: The Story of a Podcast by the Undead, for the Living, is one of those books that completely captivates. It starts innocuously enough: Martin, a vampire, and Quietus, a supernatural being whose exact species is uncertain, have a podcast called (of course!) Grave Mistakes. The podcast is modestly successful, but they hope for more, so when they're invited to present at PodCon, they're thrilled.
What begins then is a bit of a picaresque as the two friends take off an an epic—and rushed (Quietus found the email buried in Martin's email inbox, just before the conference begins)—adventure. They're attacked by a jelly monster, confront a pair of hunters, and save a person named Pat who becomes their companion. And that's all before the hellmouth opens. (Okay, I did think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer more than once.)
I absolutely loved the tenderness of the friendship between Martin and Quietus, the way that they are so accepting of each other and of those they adopt into their friendship circle. The book is funny and sweet and often suspenseful, and I was eager to discover just what force was behind the evil that seems to chase the podcasters. There are layers upon layers here: Martin and Quietus pretend to be pretending to be supernatural creatures, which adds some fun moments to the story.
After each chapter that advances the plot, there's an excerpt from one of their podcast episodes, and those moments never failed to make my heart happy. (While I'd say that humor prevails through most of the book, I did tear up more than once—there are some really sweet moments, too.) For me, that focus on friendship, on the essential kindness of Martin and Quietus that survives all of their adventures, is the heart of the novel.
This is Reger's debut (it's available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats), and she's already working on her next. (Check out her Twitter account @egregerwrites—she's a great follow, and I love the updates about her work.) I'll definitely be following her career!
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.