Dead, Undead or Somewhere In Between held me captive from the moment I started it to the moment I finished it. It lingered for days. It’s just that kind of novel. But with a stripclub bartender who can see ghosts for your guide in this dead-filled NYC, it’s easy to see why. Description below.
One bad corpse can ruin your whole day.
No one knows that better than Rhiannon Murphy.
She’s left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she’s managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her – until now.
The deliciously good-looking vampire Disco knows her secret, and when he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, she discovers he’s not the kind of person that appreciates the significance of the word no.
But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market. Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn’t their first stroll around the undead block.
I enjoyed Rhiannon from the moment she started laying down her laws, starting with the stripclub 101: when the heels come off, there’s going to be an ass-kicking. She’s a protagonist whose hard-shell is bitter-sweet: you don’t want it holding her back, but it’s fun to read all the same. And it may be the only reason she survived the supporting characters and plot that follows.
Rhiannon is drawn into a world where big bad vampires are being taken out, so how can she survive? On wits, street-smarts and natural talent. Luckily, she has an abundance of each.
Once she’s asked for help by a chain-smoking vampire named Disco, her life is not her own. Using her necromancy, she tries to find out how and why vampires are being killed. The mystery and cinspiracy is all wrapped around a blood-ring: a small network of vampires and humans selling vampire blood to the highest bidder.
She’s the mentee of another necromancer who shows her the ropes, but even with this guidance and the word of Disco, nothing but a vampire’s mark will keep her safe from other, scavenging vampire group. So she joins Disco’s family. From there, she’s an amateur PI and it gets her knocked around silly until (amidst a budding love with Disco), she discovers the terrifying truth.
The characters in this novel are well-drawn; there is none of the all-too-familiar tropes, despite Rhiannon’s ass-kickery. Each new character is unique and complimentary to the story, which kept me guessing until the end. And even then, I was wrong.
Saare’s style is filled with snappy comparisons and crisp descriptions. It’s clear she did her research with the settings and the work pays off. It’s believable; it’s unique; it’s absorbing. The attention to detail carried through the novel, the characters and the world-building, which is why I giveDead, Undead or Somewhere In Between an A+.
It’s a gold star kind of read and I encourage you to try it out. Need more reasons to convince you? I’ve got six below in this great interview with J.A. Saare.