Stephen Blackmoore's Dead Things
What It Is: Necromancer Eric Carter has been away from his hometown of L.A for fifteen years believing that his absence makes everything safer for those he loves. When his younger sister is brutally murdered, he is compelled to return in order to find out why. Maybe draw a little blood himself... not his. Someone else's. Preferably the party and/or parties responsible for the death of his sibling.
Why It Is Awesome: Within this book there are about a bajillion twists and turns and whiplash action. (Okay, not, like painful whiplash. The gentle kind. Maybe, like, your ponytail whips into your face and stings your eye. I mean, this isn't a fast moving car, it's you in a chair reading an awesomely fun book. So not, like, literally whiplash.) Did I mention it's a fun, pacey read? 'Cuz, it kinda is. It's noir with elements of horror and fantasy. (I am thinking of all the blood and magic.) There are very few moments in this novel where the plot rests so that the reader can sort of take a breath and catch up, yet Blackmoore manages to establish and advance relationships between characters in a substantial way, lending greater weight and tension to the action. So even as we (okay, me) are wildly entertained by the nonstop forward momentum of plot, Stephen Blackmoore makes the reader care about what happens to the folks carrying all of that momentum.
I mentioned in the plot description that the main character Eric Carter had been away from home for fifteen years. In that span of time, people and their circumstances have a tendency to change. So, not only does he have confront a bunch of angry ghosts and demi-gods and magicians upon his return, he also has to face the afore-mentioned changes and how his leaving impacted those closest to him. What it means for the reader is that we get the rare treat of wicked action plus character growth.
Let us review.
Meg Cabot's Insatiable
What It Is: Soap Opera dialogue writer Meena Harper has some serious issues with vampire stories, the main on being that vampires, even as a trend, just won't die. The network running the soap Meena Harper writes for wants them and in the interests of job-havery, she decides to go along. She has enough problems getting through her day to day with being able to foretell the death of every human being she meets. Then one night, she reluctantly accepts a party invitation by her neighbor where she is told she will meet a Romanian Prince, Lucien Antonescu. It's her equal reluctance to write about vampires that prompts her to go. Turns out that Lucien is the only person's death she can't foretell which holds more than a little appeal. Until it turns out that she can't see his death because he's a... wait for it... vampire!
Why It Is Awesome: Fun. Funfunfunfunfun. Insatiable carries that cute quirky humor that readers know Meg Cabot for in other work, for example, The Princess Diaries. It also really does an excellent job of talking about a popular fictional monster while making fun of it and pointing out how use of the vampire in fiction has some pretty worrisome trappings, while at the same time she uses the very trappings that the main character is critical of in order to make the story work.
It's sooo meta.
While there is much in this vampirical tale that the reader will find traditional in terms of stories about blood-sucking humans, there are some real questions about desire, agency and choices that underlay the novel.
And it's a pretty entertaining read.