Monday, September 27

Undead and Unwelcome - MaryJanice Davidson

Marc Spangler's become used to life with paranormal creatures, but he's becoming increasingly concerned about the Satanists coming to pay homage to Laura. Sure, his brilliant idea to put them to work doing good deeds seemed to get them out from underfoot, but Laura's acting kind of weird, and Tina has most uncharacteristically vanished. He can't ring Betsy, because Laura's done something to all their cell phones, and even though he keeps emailing Betsy she stubbornly won't reply.
Reluctant vampire queen Betsy (not Elizabeth!) Taylor and her husband Sinclair, accompanied by their ward and her half-brother BabyJon, are accompanying the body of Betsy's friend Antonia to her estranged family, a pack of werewolves in Cape Cod. Antonia died saving Betsy from an assassination attempt, which has made the wolves none to happy to see her, and with a potential vampire/werewolf war on the horizon Betsy has only a little space to ponder the wolves' weird responses to BabyJon. She has no time at all for the increasingly text-jargon-heavy emails coming from her housemate, Marc, and refuses to respond until he sends one in English, with actual grammar. With Sinclair's factotum Tina, and her half-sister Laura (technically the devil's daughter, but a sweet girl) at home, how much trouble could there be, anyway?
Undead and Unwelcome is the eighth in an ongoing series about the adventures of an accidental vampire who'd have been more interested collecting shoes and going to the beautician than deposing leaders and correcting barbaric practices. Though more substantial than many similar series, particularly now some of the deaths are striking closer to home, the Undead series does suffer the same problem common to the sub-genre - in addition to an introductory "The story so far" there are several expository sections catching the reader up on recent events, and some of these sections lack a little finesse. Not only that, when they continue at least to page 63 of a 236 page book it can get a little teeth grinding.
The majority of the novel is told in first person; to allow simultaneous description of what's happening in Minneapolis while Betsy et al are in Cape Cod, Marc conveniently starts a journal, addressed to "Dear Myself Dude" or Dude for short - the references to 'dude' became increasingly annoying the further I read. It's in these sections in particular that the exposition is chunkiest and clunkiest. And I'm not even going to address the fact that this doctor either has only one adrenal gland or doesn't know the normal human body comes with two (which I admit is a snarky note). I also found the use of TXT, though necessary for the plot, really irritating; I could decode GYBBH (get your behind back here) and IDKWTD (I don't know what to do) unaided, but TSIATHTF, CBRACBN and LHM? I was SOOL.
I did like the theory that vampirism is a virus that, among other things, induces severe suggestibility, explaining why even atheists who are turned can be deterred by crosses. I prefer the Westerfeld explanation in Peeps but this isn't bad. I also think the cross-over with Davidson's werewolf novel Derik's Bane (which I've not read) would please more dedicated readers, and more information on the reincarnation of Morgan le Fay would round out that (admittedly small) section. And I enjoyed the reading enough that I've got the ninth in the series out from the library, but going from something like Shinn's work to this is distinctly anticlimactic, and I think my future Davidson reading would benefit from being timed to follow weaker and less well enjoyed works. - Alex

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