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The Journals of Octavia Hollows: Books 1-6

Narrated by: Brenda Scott Wlazlo
Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

With a touch of her hand, Octavia Hollows can restore life. Yet, she couldn’t save the man she loved from the horrific accident that stole him from her. Octavia thought she could outrun the pain, but ghosts from the past refuse to be silenced. Out of options, she chooses to retrace her wayward journey across the country in search of answers. Surrounded by baffling mysteries of the undead, what she learns about herself along the way might become her greatest weapon. 

This six-novella series chronicles Octavia's adventures in:
Wake the Dead
Dead Man's Hand
Caught Dead
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Dead Ringer
Dead as a Doornail

"This is Rourke at her finest: sassy and completely unapologetic. Proving again why she's a powerhouse in this industry." (USA Today best-selling author Rue Volley) 

"This book has it all: a kickass heroine, loads of action...and a pig named Bacon." (New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Karen Lynch)

©2019 Stacey Rourke (P)2019 The Audio Flow, LLC

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

adorable

Octavia, a very special necromancer, learns who and what she is in these adorable journal entries. she's not alone but has her best friend Bacon at her side.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good fun

Books 1-6. Thank goodness you get them all as it's basically one story. Well narrated and written. Sea monsters, reanimated pig, sirens and a plethora of other folk make this a charming treat. Looking forward to more journals of Octavia.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Quirky and Sassy Necromancer and Her Swinekick

I originally grabbed the first book separately, but I knew within minutes of listening that I definitely was going to love it. At the end, which left thing open for the series arc after closing out the specific suspense plot for that story, I was eager for the next installment. Easy decision to go for the complete series of six books and still enjoy the wonderful audio work of Brenda Scott Wlazlo.

Wake the Dead
The character, the world, and the series arc was introduced while giving the reader an exciting first supernatural mystery to see Octavia in action.
Octavia is a necromancer and through the gift of a mysterious burner phone learns of a family's plight as their son dies of a curse and of the curious death of the baby's nurse. Octavia was in Seattle looking for clues to her boyfriend, Elba's missing body. and about herself, but her generous, if very snarky spirit, chooses to help the family. One thing leads to another and Octavia learns there is more to her than she thought before she and her pet resurrected pig bacon zoom out of town on her bike for the next leg of her journey to find out more about the love of her life.

Dead Man's Hand
Octavia has come to Las Vegas to visit her old construction job boss for clues about her boyfriend, Elba. Instead, she lands another after life mystery when people are dying of immolation. A dead gambling addict resurrected helps Octavia discover what is going on. Meanwhile, she learns she is being followed by a mysterious man in a cap asking about her and she has made the witch coven watch list because of her illegal activities of raising the dead.

Caught Dead
Hiding out from her stalker and still looking for clues about Elba, Octavia finds herself with a new supernatural mystery that leads to reveals about her family. This one ends on a cliffhanger. I think these just keep getting better.

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Octavia ends up at a Siren beauty pageant camp where she's herded in with other half-sirens. Not wanting to get involved in siren politics. She's pulled in when a death occurs. Then things got fun and zany. Another cliffhanger. Must keep going.

Dead Ringer
Worried about the disappearance of the coven who fostered her and knowing they were last known to be with the mysterious man who was stalking her, Octavia shows up in Belle Chasse outside New Orleans at the boxing studio she worked at for a time. Her plan to work while hunt down clues to the witches is sidetracked by her old boss and a ferocious fighter in trouble with an underground fighting ring.
This one was exciting for the boxing and gang scenes, but also because her latest rescue mission leaves her with an attraction sparked and a few emotional epiphanies about her past. But, then yes, cliffhanger with her mysterious stalking throwing down a gauntlet and pointing her back to Florida where her run across the country began.

Dead as a Doornail
Octavia has learned a great deal about herself as she slowly backtracks her way across country over the ground she had once been fleeing out of guilt and sorrow. She's coming into her own and making amends with her past even as she starts to look up and take a look to the future.
However, a malicious enemy has been stalking her and now has her coven. He's leading her right back to the place where her running began- the place Elba died. Can she make peace with that death and find the strength and cunning to deal with the new threat all with Reed her new werewolf pal and Bacon her swine-kick at her side?

Brenda Scott Wlazlo was a brilliant narrator match for this series of books. She captured a young, snarky and trash-talking yet vulnerable and hurting Octavia so well even as all her other voices were distinct so that each character was easy to pick out. She puts a heavier nudge of acting in now and then, but I didn't mind.

It ended with a smash finish that was emotional and complete as well as exciting as all came to fulmination. It left things with a promise of more seasons of Octavia Hollows' adventures. Those who enjoy entertaining urban fantasy involving supernaturals from necromancer to siren and even a mythological beast now and then in a colorful variety of settings should give these a go.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fun, but Not for Serious Fantasy/UF Readers

This book is a light take on urban fantasy that, while entertaining, may not be to the taste of some. The pacing of the stories is good, but the author tries way too hard to be funny. It got to the point where the characters couldn’t even have a normal conversation without someone trying to crack wise or an animal farting. This was the most troubling for me because I prefer a serious world that I can imagine visiting, with characters behaving realistically. As it is, I was continually caught in moments of, “Really? Who says that? Who does that?” For example, There are situations where people are dying, or in threat of death, and for some reason that’s the moment when characters feel the need to make a joke. It became tiring after a while. It reminded me of people playing Dungeons and Dragons where characters entered dangerous situations acting as they had no real threat of personal loss or injury.

This book also lacks explanations for how powers work. Complex magical feats performed with little to no effort “Oops, I tripped, fell, and brought someone/something back from the dead.” (as much as I hate to say it, this actually happens), chant a sing song nursery rhyme banish undead etc. I didn’t get the feeling that the magic abilities and/or powers in this book took any effort.

Again, the book is entertaining, but not for serious fantasy fans that wants complete world building with realistic emotions.

Finally - I’d likely give this collection a higher rating if not for the author’s lack of sensitivity and poor research on a number of issues.

#1 – Real world religions. Wiccans are portrayed as experts on satanic monsters, and people who practice necromancy. I’m not Wiccan, but even I know that the Christian devil isn’t in the same cosmology, and know that the Wiccan rede wouldn’t condone necromancy. It would have been very easy to just call the characters witches (a generic term) rather than referring to them as Wiccans. It’s like… why include a religion if you don’t know anything about it?

#2 – People with disabilities. Speaking as someone who is very close to someone who has albinism in real life, it was really bothersome to hear a guy with albinism called “The Albino” and “Powder” both of which are the disability specific equivalent to dropping an N bomb in the USA (which is where the story takes place). This scene didn’t even do anything to advance the plot it was like “Hey let’s make fun of the really white guy and move on.”

15-20 minutes of internet research on both of these topics (Wicca and albinism) would have educated the author, but instead it was full steam ahead and who cares if people are demeaned if it can sell some books, right? It was just a very insensitive, lazy, and ignorant approach to storytelling. If you’re writing a book that you expect people to pay money for, take the time to know stuff you are writing about before publishing. If the author didn't want to take the time to research, it would have been so easy to just call the characters witches without pinning them to (and thereby misrepresenting) a specific real world faith.

Finally, there are times when the book strays into territory that is very close to political preaching which is not what I look for in a UF novel. Topics that are mocked include the Me Too movement, sexual harassment, addiction, etc.

Actual rating: 3.5 (Would have been 4-4.5 if not for the last few things mentioned above.)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing stories

The Journals of Octavia Hollows books are full of action, amazement, magic, supernatural beings, quirky characters and most of all a snarky heroine. The storyline are well developed and funny as hell. I love Octavia's snarky comments and comebacks. Bacon is simply one smart adorable little pig that is slightly mischievous.
The narration is phenomenal with Brenda Scott Wlazlo at the helm with her many voices she brings the book to life. I can't wait to read Octavia's and Bacon's next adventures. I received this audio book at my request. I am leaving my honest review here voluntarily of my own volition.

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  • sue ward
  • 11-30-19

Loved it

The journals of Octavia Hollows

Bk1 wake the dead:
This is a new to me author and all I can say is where has she been hiding? I loved everything about this book, especially that Octavia’s sidekick is a reanimated pig called bacon, reanimated because Octavia is a necromancer who was working in a butchers shop and that’s where she acquired Bacon :-)
Humour, a good storyline and a very likeable main character make this an entertaining read.

Bk2 dead mans hand:
Octavia can raise the dead but was unable to save the man she loved so our sassy necromancer sets out on a journey looking for answers, what she finds here though is a supernatural being that is turning people into crispy critters and a hitman for the mob!
I’m loving the combination of sassy humour and mystery.
My favourite line ... “All their attention was focused on my favourite little pork rind”

Bk 3 caught dead
Who is the stranger that appears to be stalking Octavia? A threat? Or someone that can help with the answers she seeks? Octavia’s search takes her to Texas, she’s immediately confronted with the finding of a dead man, when the mans wife admits to his murder because of his adultery it appears to be a cut and dried case!

Bk 4 drop dead gorgeous
Octavia May have gotten into more trouble than she can handle this time!
Finding out a bit more about her roots unveils a whole new world to her and one that puts not only herself in danger but those she cares about too. Just who is this elusive stranger that seems to know all about Octavia ?
Another great read full of intrigue, humour and danger. I get the feeling this sassy necromancer is on the way to finding out exactly how powerful she really is.

Bk 5 Dead Ringer
Another stop in her way to finding out just what happened to her dead fiancées body, this time Octavia finds herself helping someone that surprisingly doesn’t involve raising any dead.
An ominous package has our necromancer heading to Tallahassee........ the place where Alba died!
Lots of intrigue and humour but of course my favourite is still that cute little porker called Bacon.

Bk 6 dead as a doornail:
In this book all the intrigue and unanswered questions are finally answered.
The mystery stalker is revealed And with it sees Octavia face her biggest challenge yet, one that could see her lose everything!
A gripping and nail biting finale to this adventure, I’ll be keeping a close eye on any future adventures from Octavia and Bacon.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah (Feeling Fictional)
  • 11-26-19

The Journals of Octavia Hollows: Books 1-6

This book is actually a collection of the first 6 novellas in the Octavia Hollows series by Stacey Rourke. I listened to the audiobook which narrated by Brenda Scott Wlazlo who I thought did a brilliant job with the different character voices. I often find my mind drifts when I'm listening to audiobooks but she did a great job of holding my attention and I ended up devouring the whole series far faster than I usually listen to audiobooks.

I'll talk about each one separately below but lets start with a brief overview of the series. Octavia is a necromancer with a rather unusual ability. Rather than raising a zombie like creature she is actually able to restore a dead body to its original healthy state and the person she raises is effectively given a whole new chance at life. Her life was turned upside down by the death of her fiancé Elba, that wouldn't usually be a big problem for her but when someone steals his body before she can reanimate him it all goes to hell. Now Octavia's only focus in life is to try and figure out where Elba's body is so that she can bring him back from the dead.

This was a fun and light hearted urban fantasy series that I couldn't read fast enough and I really, really hope that Stacey Rourke decides to write more stories set in this world.

Wake the Dead

This is a great introduction to Octavia and this world. We get to find out about her ability to raise the dead and meet the most adorable sidekick in her pet pig called Bacon. The story starts with Octavia retracing her steps to Seattle looking for clues about Elba's missing body. While there she is asked for help by a desperate family whose children both seem to be dying. Add in a dead nurse, a visit to the morgue and a dangerous curse and Octavia is going to need to keep her wits about her if she wants to survive this adventure.

We only find out a little about Octavia's past here but we start to understand how alone she has been since falling out with the Coven who raised her until she was 16.

Dead Man's Hand

The second story sees Octavia retrace her steps to Las Vegas where she's hoping her old boss might have some answers for her about the man who is stalking her. We get to see Bacon cause chaos on a construction site before Octavia gets herself caught up in a new supernatural case after she reanimates an ex gambler who was burned alive. She's trying to stay under the radar of her Coven, dodge the police and a mob hitman while trying to figure out who is behind the murders so it's probably no surprise that things get a little crazy.

I'm really enjoying getting to know Octavia, she may be on a mission but that never stops her from trying to help others along the way.

Caught Dead

The next stop of Octavia's journey sees her in Galveston, Texas. She's still searching for Elba's body but at the same time she's also trying to find out more about the mysterious stalker who seems to be shadowing her every move. While here she witnesses a body being recovered from a fishing net but he's too far gone even for her magic abilities. Unable to ask the victim directly about his murder she has to do a bit more digging on her own here and soon gets caught up in a tale of sea monsters.

This story gives us a lot more information about Octavia's past as she uncovers things about herself and her family that she'd never heard of before. She was an orphan before the Coven took her in but this gives her a chance to find out about the parents she doesn't even remember. It ends on quite a cliffhanger so I was really pleased that I had the entire series on hand ready to continue!

Drop Dead Gorgeous

After her abduction in the previous story Octavia is still at the mercy of a cold blooded siren who would happily see her dead. With Bacon and her new friend Squidface being held hostage and used against her Octavia didn't have much choice but to agree to travel to meet the rest of the siren pod. The last thing she's expecting is to find them running a travelling beauty pageant where they target pervy old men to feed from but it's actually a pretty perfect way for the sirens to feed without going on a killing spree.

Octavia finds herself caught up in siren politics after stumbling across a double homicide and she'll have to keep her wits about her if she wants to save her friends in time. This ends in another cliffhanger so again I was ready to dive straight into the next story.

Dead Ringer

Knowing that her stalker has abducted her entire coven has put Octavia's hunt for Elba's body on hold. She will do anything to save the women who raised her and her search for them begins in New Orleans. Retracing her steps seems to be working well for her so far so she heads back to the boxing gym she used to work at. When she realises her old boss and one of the new fighters Reid have got themselves in some kind of trouble with an underground fight club she knows she has to step in and help but she's definitely going to end up with more than she bargained for this time.

All the way through this series I've been rooting for Octavia to track down Elba and bring him back to life but for the first time I'm starting to wonder whether that's actually the best option for her. She had some great chemistry going on with Reid so although nothing has really happened there so far I find myself almost hoping that will change in the future. We're definitely getting closer to a resolution one way or the other when it comes to Elba though so I couldn't dive into the final book fast enough.

Dead as a Doornail

Her journey has come full circle and now Octavia is back in Tallahassee, Florida, the place where Elba died and where her stalker is now holding her coven captive. Reid has travelled with her wanting to help her and pay back the debt he feels he owes her but her focus remains on finding Elba's body and rescuing her coven.

I'm not going to say too much about this final instalment because I don't want to give spoilers but I will say I was really happy with the way this series ended (although I'm still hoping for more in the future!). This was an intense part of Octavia's journey, she has to face some terrible choices and is forced to face up to both her past and what she wants from her future.

I had so much fun reading this series, I ended up devouring all 6 novellas in less than 24 hours because they kept me totally hooked from beginning to end. I loved the colourful characters and the humour and while this may have been my first Stacey Rourke series it definitely won't be the last!