Friday, December 26, 2008

Honourable Mentions: Pretty When She Dies

The Blurb: Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disorientated, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry…

…in a new, horrific, unimaginable way…

Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature.

All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and what’s worse is that he’s a necromancer, one who has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind.

But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation… or her death?

The Mention: I wondered, before I even started reading Pretty When She Dies, at how I would tackle the book in respect of the blog. Normally, of course, I would review such a tome but author Rhiannon Frater is a friend of the blog, we have reciprocally linked each other – her blog is the wonderfully named Zombies, Vampires and Texans! Oh, my!!! – and she was kind enough to send me an e-copy of the book. Now folks do, on occasion, send me their product and I pride myself on being honest with my reviews but, with the linkage and everything, I felt that giving you a few thoughts but not actually reviewing the book would spare any tendency I might have towards bias.

This is, as the blurb tells us, the story of new vampire Amaliya and her first faltering steps as a new born undead. It is also the story of an older undead named Cian, and the effect that Amaliya has on his world. Rhiannon has gone on record to state that “when I wrote Pretty When She Dies, I wanted to get back to that danger. I wanted to get back to that feral, dark power. My vampires are sexy and alluring, but they will rip your throat out.”

So how did she do? Well, regular readers will be aware that I want my vampires powerful and dangerous. Sexy is fine too. I am not as impressed if I am faced with a romantic vampire, with a whinging, angst-ridden member of the once living fraternity. Oh I will watch/read the exploits of such creatures but I want some tooth and nail, fang and claw.

I was impressed with the visceral nature of Amaliya’s rebirth. These vampires need to feed to the point of insanity when reborn and, indeed, many do go insane. However, I was even more impressed with the handling of Cian’s character. Here was one of the gone human, softer and more romantic vampires (though thankfully not angst-ridden) and Rhiannon took him as a character and rebirthed him into vampiredom (as it were) through his interaction with Amaliya. In many respects he was like the genre itself having gone soft, tried to be human and then remembering what it should be.

Rhiannon is also a writer of zombie novels and we do get some of the shambling dead appearing, controlled by the necromancer the Summoner. More interesting are the constructs he creates, dead creatures created from bits and bobs of many a corpse – it adds a darker tone to the proceedings. The main lore for the vampires was genre standard, sunlight burns, no reflections, holy images repel – especially if faith is behind them, (most) vampires have to sleep when the sun is up though they have defensive reflexes, stakes through the heart and silver are destructive. There is one of the more unusual, I was going to say slay but it is actually a weakening of the vampire pre-slay, that you’ll come across – better, it works really well. For me one of the nicest lore touches was the idea that a cross within a tattoo, which Amaliya had pre-turning, seared itself from her body on rebirth.

Rhiannon warned me that the book was very Texan – though I don’t think I missed any nuances due to this. Occasionally the language would fall back on the vernacular but I assumed that was the Texan roots appearing through the literary topsoil and as such added a regional flavour to the writing.

The book is available via Rhiannon’s blog and Amazon US:


Rhiannon said...

Thanks for the lovely mention of my novel in your blog. I wasn't really anticipating a review, but wanted your honest opinion of what you thought. I think your shout out is very well done and I do appreciate it.

It seems you liked it, so I'm smiling.


Taliesin_ttlg said...

No problem Rhiannon, and yes I did enjoy