Monday, February 22, 2010
Book Review: 'Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between.'
With the explosion in popularity among many paranormal romances and urban fantasies, one would expect a variety in motifs, execution and lore in the stories themselves. While many authors have a knack for bending rules and taking a common theme and making it their own, creating a tangible yet fantastical world becomes more difficult. The goal is to ensnare the reader with an angle that hasn’t been explored, or to revisit one that needs revisiting with a unique twist. You want your work to be original while still acknowledging the typical hooks within the genre, and you want to make sure that, were a reader to stumble into your world, they would know it’s yours and no one else’s.
J.A Saare’s Dead, Undead, Or Somewhere In Between is a rare treat of a novel. In it, readers are introduced to characters real enough to be your next door neighbor and a storyline engaging enough to keep you up well past your bedtime just so you can find out what happens next. The novel is shown through the eyes of its sassy, foul-mouthed protagonist, Rhiannon Murphy. Rhiannon is a bartender by trade, though she has the unenviable ability to see those who have departed from this mortal coil…both once and twice over. This makes her an incredibly powerful necromancer, as well as the unwitting target of local beasties who want to drag her into their world.
Rhiannon spends her nights tending bar, dealing with loud-mouthed regulars and bickering strippers. Her routine is hijacked by a vampire called Disco, who promptly turns Rhiannon’s world on its head. She is introduced to others who possess her abilities—though not quite to her extent—and implored for help in uncovering who is behind a string of nasty vamp-killings. As a necromancer who can see the twice-dead, Rhiannon’s abilities make her an invaluable asset for the good guys and a coveted trophy for the bad.
This story quite literally has everything, but I think the aspect I was most taken with was the Ms. Saare’s ability to weave and write such strong, believable characters. Through the roster of personalities to which readers are introduced, every one of them maintains originality and their own voice. Furthermore, Ms. Saare has an appreciation for wit, and certainly knows how to creatively but tastefully interweave sass and story, especially during parts that demand comic relief. I loved the slow get-to-know-you between Rhiannon and Disco and the build-up in their relationship, but I was also impressed with how other ‘side’ characters were never shoved from “screen-time” for the sake of the romance.
I was also incredibly impressed with the climax. There was no quick-fix or rapid explanation, rather a very serious and “hold your breath” conclusion to the main storyline. The antagonists were well written and appropriately creepy, and the last ten pages? Well…let’s just say I’ll be waiting with my credit card when the next installment is released.
If you’re looking for a good, engaging, well-written story with believable characters, then Dead, Undead, Or Somewhere In Between is definitely the book for you. It’s witty and original, and easily one of my favorite reads in a long while.
Rosalie's rating? 5/5