Undead and Unpopular
Despite the perks, being the Queen of Vampires isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. True, her Vampire Highness Betsy Taylor gets to live forever, is perpetually thirty, and is about to marry vampire hottie, Eric Sinclair, but even a Vampire Queen has to deal with unpleasant house-guests, relatives, wedding plans, and bad hair days. Betsy’s plans for her birthday celebration (not to mention her long-awaited wedding day) are side-tracked by the arrival of a high-level European vampire delegation supposedly come to pay homage to their new Majesty. The only problem is that Betsy’s loyal subjects don’t seem, well, very loyal. Between the snide comments and innuendoes, Betsy is starting to think that vampire politics are best left to her toothsome fiancé. But, things worsen when Betsy finds out that one of the delegates, Alonzo, was responsible lo those many years ago for “turning” her friend Sophie (see MJD’s contribution in the Bite anthology).
True, Sophie’s been undead for about a hundred years and may bring her current human honey over to the dark side. But when she sees Alonzo gnoshing in Betsy’s living room, Sophie’s cries murder most foul. Sophie expects Betsy, both as Queen and good friend, to avenge Alonzo’s “murder” of her. True, Sophie is technically dead, but that hasn’t slowed her down one bit. After all, she has a boyfriend, a great veterinary practice, and excellent taste in shoes. Betsy’s not sure of the protocol on this one – her Queenship is rather new and there’s no official handbook for being Queen of the Damned. She wants to help Sophie, but she doesn’t want to further estrange the European vampires. Since Betsy became Queen, she’s already made several faux pas – like giving out her life story to a friend who published it (as fiction, of course), and writing a weekly “vampire advice” column that has been syndicated in the “regular” press. Another mistake could doom (literally) Betsy and Eric.
There’s also a side-story involving Betsy’s best friend Jessica, who is critically ill. As Betsy struggles over the Sophie-Alonzo dilemma, she learns that Jessica may be dying. Naturally, Sophie’s hostility over being “turned” paired with her desire to “turn” her own boyfriend, Liam, raises some questions about what would happen if Betsy offered Jessica a chance at immortal un-life. And, ironically, in this very funny book, it also raises many questions for the reader as to what makes life worth living and what it is that makes us “alive.”
Having read several of Ms. Davidson’s other books, I had certain expectations for Undead and Unpopular. I liked those other vampire romps, but they were ultimately light reads with little character depth. This book goes a step beyond and in a very subtle way probes the human condition. Betsy would’ve probably agreed that she was better off dead in previous books, but I’m not so sure she would agree at the end of this novel. True, there are plenty of hi-jinks, steamy kisses, and laughs, but there are also some tense moments. The character interactions and dialogue are as strong in this book as ever and there is a good deal of development in Betsy and Eric’s relationship and in their personalities. Betsy’s relatives continue to be a source of angst for her, but then, her half-sister is the Daughter of the Devil (no kidding.)
All together, this is a great read. True, it’s not Edgar Allen Poe or even Anne Rice, but it is entertaining and just the thing to lighten your mood. Read it for the laughs or, if you’re in an introspective mood, for a deeper look at yourself. But, most of all, just read it. Good work, Ms. Davidson!