Thursday, November 16, 2006

Undead and Unpopular – review

Author: Mary Janice Davidson

Released: 2006

Contains spoilers

This is book 5 of The Undead Series centred around Betsy Taylor, unwitting Vampire Queen. Here’s what the blurb has to say:

“Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen, already has plenty on her plate. For one thing, next week is her 31st birthday – and her 1st anniversary of being undead. On top of that, she still has wedding plans to finalise – and its not helping that the prospective groom is avoiding anything to do with it. And then there’s her decision to stop drinking blood – something she has yet to share with Eric Sinclair, her fiancé.

“So the last thing she wants to deal with is uninvited guests, even if they happen to be the powerful European vampires who have finally come to pay their respects the week before her birthday. Some of them don’t want Betsy as their Queen, and will do anything to get rid of her. As if turning thirty last year (not to mention dying) hadn’t been traumatic enough. And trying to give up blood is making her really cranky…”

Like the others in the series this is a light comedic read that thumbs its nose, joyfully, at standard vampire mythology. If I had a problem with this book it is in the fact that it does contain a lot but little in way of main arc material.

In many respects this consolidates characters and sets up new directions for future volumes. The story of Laura, Betsy’s half sister and daughter of the devil, is left for now – with the character appearing simply as a side character. A level of pathos is added into the comedy with disturbing news about Betsy’s best, and still human, friend Jessica.

There is an on-running gag about Betsy being told there is a zombie in the attic and ignoring the warnings until she is faced with the creature. Davidson aptly captures, from Betsy’s viewpoint, the reason why zombies, as a genre, are scary but the situation is quickly dealt with. It might have been simply a gag but a throw-away line later indicates there is more to this – we just don’t find out what. The situation with the European Vampires is there constantly but dealt with conveniently at the end, I expected it to be more of an issue and perhaps it will be as the series develops.

As I said, a lot of 'future volume set up' appears for the main storylines from the series and, so long as these are carried forward, this makes Undead and Unpopular a worthwhile volume in the series.

7 out of 10, reflects the volume and the series as a whole.

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