Published 2009 336 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…
Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.
But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it.
Writing is a hard work. Especially when you specialize in such a stereotypical genre as urban fantasy. It is nearly impossible to avoid some repetitions and clichés. Let’s take Deadtown. Where did I read about werewolf, lawyer boyfriend? Yep, Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn. Vampire roommate? Kim Harrison anyone? The weird feeling of déjà vu was hanging over my head for the most of the book. And I am not saying it is a bad book either.
The story of Boston’s only demon slayer is well structured and consistent. In fact the parts about typology of demons and their different shapes and species are probably the only original ideas in the plot. The main character, Victory Vaughn, makes also for a highly likable heroine. She is down to earth, egoistical and guilt driven. It sounds like a horrible personality, but works surprisingly well in the universe of Deadtown.
I also enjoyed the “District 9” vibe the whole book emitted. The story takes place in the world where the monsters came out of the closet as an aftermath of the zombie plague. A closed district for monsters in the middle of Boston and a surrounding neighborhood being called New Combat Zone? That sounds much more accurate than a “friendly” coexistence that is described in most of the books that share the same initial idea.
I am not down with the idea of treating zombies as the comic relief though. What happened to the flesh eating monsters from “Resident Evil”? They where much more interesting than the pathetic, moping creatures from Deadtown. In fact most of the humoristic episodes in the book somehow missed the beat. The zombie scenes that were intended as hysterically funny turned out to be incomprehensibly complicated. Even if it was a preplanned device to convey the wrongs of discrimination, it simply did not work out.
Luckily everyone who is willing struggle through the initial clichés and narrative lulls of Deadttown is rewarded with a pretty awesome ending. The last twenty or so pages are an ongoing action sequence that wraps rather nicely all the different plots and episodes. Even the excessively dry romantic triangle between the heroine, the lawyer werewolf and the curly-haired police detective is resolved on a light note, which proves that the author is aware of her own weaknesses. In the marketing world Deadtown would be described as the premium class. Nothing extraordinary but highly satisfying for the statistical reader.
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You can read the first chapter of this book and find out more about Nancy Holzner’s writing on her website. Check out Nancy Holzner’s site.