Undead and Unappreciated
Whew! After reading Ms. Davidson’s last book, Derik’s Bane, I’d begun to worry a little bit. Though she has a proven track record of writing clever dialogue and sharp characters, I was beginning to overdose a little on those very things. In her third novel featuring Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor, the sharp writing is present but it is buoyed by some actual conflict and (dare I say it?) soul.
After vanquishing evil vampires and vampire hunters, Betsy figures her life should be smooth sailing. Not so. Her recently inherited nightclub, Scratch, is in disarray because of the unhappy employees (Betsy refuses to let them feed off the living customers). Her dreadful step-mother is pregnant and has invited Betsy to a baby shower it would be impossible for her to attend (it’s happening while the sun is still up). Eric Sinclair is just returned from a six-week trip to Europe and Betsy still doesn’t want anything to do with him (really, it’s true, she’s not attracted to him, no how, no way…got it?). And if all of that’s not bad enough, Betsy has just learned she has a half-sister who may be the spawn of the devil (who’s cute and super-sweet besides). What’s a Vampire Queen to do?
If you’re Betsy, you jump right in with both feet and deal with the consequences when the dust settles. And dust there is. Betsy’s methods this time around leave her on the outs with her roommates and Eric. So between dealing with her newly discovered sister and fixing her relationships, Betsy has her work cut out for her.
The change in the dynamic of Betsy and Eric’s contentious marriage made for a nice change. Up until now, Betsy held the power position; she knew it and sometimes abused it. For the first time Betsy has to do some of the chasing and that creates some much needed vulnerability in her as a character. In fact if she weren’t already dead, I’d say Betsy did some growing up.
If there’s something that’s for sure, it’s that Ms. Davidson knows how to bring on the funny. From the moment when Betsy visits an AA meeting to get tips on how to stop drinking blood to her meeting with the Devil at an Orange Julius, this book is seriously witty. No surprise there – Betsy and company are always entertaining. However, hilarious scenes connecting sketchy plot points can only do so much. Yes, Betsy’s dealings with Eric and the other people she cares about were handled wonderfully. The plotting involving Betsy’s new sister? Not so much. I’m a fan of Ms. Davidson’s wild and unpredictable story-telling from book to book, but the ideas are getting to be more flash then substance.
I liked the new sister and thought many of her scenes were cute. But it was the growth shown by Betsy and the effects it has on her relationships that kept my grade inching up. Those changes make me eager to visit this group of people again.