Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between
Published 2010 244 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
One bad corpse can ruin your whole day. No one knows that better than Rhiannon Murphy. She’s left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she’s managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her – until now.
The deliciously good-looking vampire Disco knows her secret, and when he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, she discovers he’s not the kind of person that appreciates the significance of the word no.
But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market. Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn’t their first stroll around the undead block.
Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between is a beginning of a new paranormal series, one that ticks of most of the must have boxes for urban fantasy. So we get a young necromancer making her way in a big city… Wait, where did I see that before… Anita Blake anyone? Who makes her living standing behind a bar, because traumatic experience from childhood and the dark talent make it impossible for her to lead a normal life – Sookie Stackhouse comes to mind. Then, someone starts killing vampires in her city and the coven leader needs her help. Yep, Anita Blake again. Additionally we get treacherous demons, not unlike the ones in series by Jeanine Frost or Kelley Armstrong.
The book has a good pace and the mystery unwraps gradually as Rhiannon, the main character, sinks deeper into the undead world. The love story meshes nicely with rest of the plots, although I take issues with Disco, the vampire wonder boy. The element of evil and danger is what makes vampire sexy and desirable. To take all the wicked from the vampire is to emasculate him. And even the most beautiful, blue eyes (with sparkles of gold in the irises that get mentioned at least once in every chapter) won’t make it right.
Rhiannon is also a pretty usual heroine for urban fantasy. She is tough as nails and feisty but deeply scarred inside. Self-proclaimed loud mouth, gets on everybody’s (including the readers) nerves, when her verbal diarrhea spins out of control, but does a good job narrating the story and filling in the narration gaps. The cast of back- up characters isn’t maybe especially exciting, but it makes for a believable, urban scenery.
Now a warning: the book ends with a cliff-hanger. I know there are some readers who despise those kind of literature devices and for most of the time, I agree with them. Luckily here the unexpected ending works, distracting attention from the love story that gets all touchy-feely and mushy. It really got me thinking, how will the author deal with the new scenery she obviously chose for her next book?
J. A. Saare work may not be really original, but I enjoyed it more than few of the latest “truly original” offerings (And Falling, Fly was especially traumatic). Still, when you reuse the commonly known material, you should at least try for some unique message or conclusion. This aim was not achieved here. Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between is a decent work of fiction in a way that a school essay is a decent literature analysis. All the right elements, but no flare. A book for devoted funs of the genre who like to divert themselves with a nice improvisation on a well-known theme.
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Visit the author’s website to find out more about the writing of J.A Saare or to read an excerpt from this book. Visit J.A. Saare’s website.