Shannon C.'s Reviews > Deadtown

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
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Aug 11, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: magic-special-powers, shapeshifters, vampires

2.5 stars: Mediocre urban fantasy in a genre filled with other great offerings

Victory Vaughn, a shapeshifter and professional demon slayer, lives in an area known as Deadtown--Boston's quarantined section for shifters, vampires and zombies. The monsters have recently come out of the closet. Many 'Paranormal Americans' are fighting for their rights, including Vicky's on-and-off again boyfriend Alexander Kane, lawyer and werewolf. The fast paced plot includes demon-plagued clients, police consultations, family dramas, a suspicious research facility studying shifters, and an incredibly annoying and foolish zombie apprentice Tina.

The plot was a pretty good mix of action and suspense. The author's explanation on zombies and shifters was original. The author also did a good job with world building. She didn't make the mistake so many authors do with long boring 'data dumps' of explanation, but rather let the world build through dialogue and actions. I liked the backstory about the death of Vicky's father by the demon. The family interactions added depth to the story. While I was annoyed with her sister Gwen, I understood her viewpoints and thought the decisions she made seemed in keeping with her character. I enjoyed some elements of the leading female character Vicky--strong, a great fighter, and loyal--but several times felt she could have been smarter, for example when thugs tried to kidnap her she immediately wondered if Alex could have been behind it...what?!? What about the crazy research scientist or demon-calling sorcerer who is after her? That made no sense to me.

The lack of humorous dialogue is a big element missing in the series. When I think of some of my favorite UFs (e.g., Briggs' Mercy Thompson, Andrews' Kate Daniels, Chance's Dorina Basrab, Neill's Chicagoland Vampires), all of them have elements simliar to this one--strong leading lady, interesting UF plotlines, high action/suspense--but what they all have that this one doesn't is funny, snappy dialogue. Tina, the irritating zombie apprentice, I think was introduced to be a humorous side kick but she reminded me of Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars--a character that you just want to smack and certainly have no interest in reading about. She consistently made poor choices that put Vicky's life in danger. I didn't buy that Vicky would keep hanging around a 'too stupid to live' character.

Another thing that bugged me was the way the relationships were handled. The interactions with Alex, the supposed boyfriend (who seemed more like a 'friend with benefits' rather than a boyfriend) and mild flirting with Daniel, the detective, were flat. If an author is going to introduce potential romantic relationships, they need to be done well--make the reader feel something, i.e., romantic tension, conflict, etc. I didn't feel much of anything for these characters. There wasn't much to the interactions and the character development was weak. I missed the snappy dialogue that is typical in the genre between potential partners, e.g., Kate & Curran, Mercy & Adam, Merit & Ethan, etc.

Overall this was a mediocre urban fantasy. Other series I'd recommend over this one:

Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs (Don't miss the anthology in On the Prowl,which is a prequel to Cry Wolf)

Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

World of Lupi series by Eileen Wilks

Sookie Sackhouse by Charlaine Harris

Cassandra Palmer and Dorina Basarab Dhampir series by Karen Chance (I like Dory better than Cassie, but from a timeline perspective Cassie comes first. Dory is a great kick b*tt character reminiscent of Kate Daniels.)

Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill

Fever series by KM Moning

Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland

Jane True by Nicole Peeler

October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Ctanner (new)

Ctanner Shannon I have had this on my "to buy list" but after your review I am thinking I should cross this one off.


Shannon C. It was the author's first book, so maybe her second book will be better.


message 3: by James (new) - added it

James I notice that you didn't mention The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher; if you haven't read it yet you should. I consider it the ruler by which all other works in the genre are judged.


Aana Loved your list of books. Have read all but two. Will be adding them to my to read list, Thanks


Shannon C. Ana, have you read:
Others and Black Jewels by Anne Bishop
Charlie Davidson by Darynda Jones
Tinker by Wen Spencer
Raine Benares by Lisa Shearin
The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

These are some more good ones! :)


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