It’s been almost a year since Garnet Lacey changed unimaginably, on that Halloween night a year ago when her coven was slain by six Vatican-sponsored witch-hunters, leading her to invoke the Goddess Lilith and execute the men. Though she thinks of the women often, particularly in the lead up to Halloween, she has created a new life as the proprietor of Mercury Crossing, the ‘premier occult book store and herb emporium’ of Madison, a Midwestern college town. Sure, not everyone has a two hundred year old vampire living in their home, let alone one that’s a secret from their thousand year old, artificially generated and therefore sun-immune vampire boyfriend, but Garnet’s life is mostly normal. Okay, Lilith dwells within her, and her cat’s allergic to magic, and all of a sudden there seem to be a lot of zombies about, but otherwise it’s all rather mundane.
Until FBI Special Agent Gabriel Dominguez enters Mercury Crossing, looking for her. The photo he has shows Garnet when she was living in Minneapolis. Then a typical midwestern prairie flower with blue-eyes, long fair hair and everything but a bonnet, her innocent coven name of Meadow Spring suited her. Madison Garnet has short-cropped black hair, loads of makeup framing her Lilith-purple eyes, and went extra heavy on the face powder, so she passes herself off as an employee. From his aura she can tell than Dominguez is a strong psychic, a power he can’t tap into because he doesn’t know he has it.
I’m not sure if it’s Hallaway’s style or just that this series is only two books in, but I found the exposition considerably less intrusive than has been the case with some paranormal books recently encountered. It’s been a while since I read Tall, Dark and Dead, which opens on the night of the murders, and there was just enough detail to refresh me without bludgeoning me over the head.
There were a few thinks that briefly interrupted my flow, including the reference to thousand-year-old Sebastian dying “before universities were invented,”* and an irritating tendency to tell with looks (eg “I gave him the I-hope-this-is-some-kind-of-fetish-and-not-the-real-deal look”) that, once noticed, grated (though I’ve seen worse). But otherwise the writing was better than average, the plot was believable within the confines of the genre and not too convoluted, and there were some moderately surprising twists.
Unfortunately, as I re-read this review I see that most of my praise amounts to Dead Sexy being better than the less good novels of this genre, and that’s fairly accurate. I wouldn’t run screaming from a sequel, and will certainly read it if I happen to some across it, but I don’t think I’ll be tracking it down. - Alex
Addit: please note that, as mentioned in the review above, I read Dead Sexy quite some time before writing the review, accounting for the rather generic summation. However, In fairness to the author I will seek out the next in the (four part this far) series and write a contemoraneous review.
* When I read this it jarred, as I was fairly sure universities had been around longer than that. As it happens I was both right - the world's first university opened (China's Nanjing) in 258AD, the first degree-granting ones opened in the 9th century, the oldest continuing university (Cairo's Al-Azhar) was founded in 969AD - and wrong. Europe's first university (Bologna) opened in Sebastian's lifetime, and Britain's shortly thereafter (1167). However, having enlisted the services of Google and Wikipedia to check all this I grant you that "before universities were invented" is actually a fair enough statement and I take it back