CHICK-LIT IN URBAN FANTASY CLOTHING!
A HEROINE WHO MAKES SOOKIE SEEM DEEP. A TALE SO BAD IT’S GOOD ENOUGH TO BE A GUILTY PLEASURE.
Undead And Unwed
(Queen Betsy Series, Book 1)
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 288 Pages
Date: 2nd February 2006 (First Published 2004)
There are certain books that can only be enjoyed when approached as guilty pleasures, not to be taken too seriously (or at all). MaryJanice Davidson’s comedic urban fantasy debut, Undead And Unwed is one such book that’s so bad it’s good enough to qualify. But in taking the comedy route the author cleverly sidesteps a lot of potential criticism of her story’s lack of literary merit by establishing that this is a book not to be taken seriously. It is played for laughs from beginning to end, and reads much like a supernatural incarnation of Ally McBeal.
Any reader well versed in urban fantasy will know it to be a genre that is awash with incredibly irritating female protagonists; so it takes quite some doing to create a main character insipid enough to rise head and shoulders above the crowd. But Davidson succeeds in doing so with aplomb, creating a protagonist who makes Sookie Stackhouse seem like a deep and complex character. When coupled with all the usual overused tropes of the genre, this is a book that could be a dream come true for readers who like a shallow, light-hearted book that is quick to read, and even quicker to forget. Readers with different sensibilities, and gravitate to more serious, deeper fare will, in all likelihood, be aggravated by what Undead And Unwed has to offer.
The book’s heroine, Betsy Taylor, is very much like one of those vapid female participants found in reality TV shows…on steroids. She is an incredibly shallow, materialistic character, with an excessive love for shoes. It frequently feels as though the author went overboard with this portrayal; it’s hard to imagine most readers not becoming exasperated with Betsy―her personality and behaviour wears thin very quickly. On the other hand, as the target audience for the book are probably people not too dissimilar from Betsy, her annoying quirks may very well be viewed as endearing, and she herself deemed compelling.
The story, such as it is, begins in earnest on the day Betsy is killed in an accident, and subsequently rises from the dead not realising she is a vampire. But she’s no ordinary vampire, of course. Betsy has a prophesied destiny to fulfil and, unsurprisingly, she spends most of the book trying to escape that destiny. All the while, a powerful rival vampire wants her eliminated so she can never bring the prophecy to fruition, while the cliché (will they, won’t they) love interest struggles to get her to embrace her destiny.
As is expected of a run-of-the-mill urban fantasy, Undead And Unwed progresses in a predictable manner. But to give the author her due, the narrative avoids being boring for almost the entire duration of the story. It’s only really the final 40 – 50 pages that become a chore to read, though that has a lot to do with how grating the main character has become by then. Fortunately, this is a short novel, and it’s actually well written―enough to be a surprisingly engaging read that few people will have difficulty breezing through it.
Telling it like it is. Giving you honest and balanced, spoiler free reviews. Completely devoid of irrational fanboyism, or shameless astroturfing.