All Things Urban Fantasy's Reviews > Three Days to Dead

Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding
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's review
Dec 04, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed-by-abigail

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Have you seen the movie D.O.A starring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan or the 1950 original about a man who is poisoned and has only 24 hours to solve his own murder? It’s a great premise that unfortunately didn’t make for a great movie. Three Days to Dead operates on a similar idea with a much more successful execution.

I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born. Vividly. Waking up on a cold morgue table surrounded by surgical instruments and autopsy paraphernalia, to the tune of the medical examiner's high-pitched shrieks of fright, is an unforgettable experience. – first line from Three Days to Dead

Evy Stone, paranormal bounty hunter, wakes up naked in a morgue inside a stranger's body with little memory of the past few. Now she has only 72 hours to figure out how she died, why she was brought back, and who is ultimately responsible. Easier said then done when she’s been branded a traitor by those she used to work with. Not sure who to trust, Evy turns to the one man whom she has always depended on, her Handler Wyatt. Together they begin to unravel a plot that goes deeper then either of them feared and includes a possible alliance between the vampire Bloods and the Goblins that would result in the destruction of mankind.

A lot of first time authors, especially in the urban fantasy genre, struggle with trying to establish a unique and distinct world without reducing their characters to little more than props while trying to tell a captivating story. Kelly manages this task beautifully without resorting to huge passages of info dumping. I have a good sense of her world and the rules that govern it, and yet I feel truly connected and engaged with her characters. Evy especially.

Evy Stone is my kind of girl. She's tough, resourceful, and most importantly resilient. Her second life starts hard and gets harder. The more she remembers the worse it gets. Friends die, allies betray, and her new body turns traitor in desiring Wyatt in a very unprofessional way. And do you know how many pages of the book Evy spends feeling sorry for herself and complaining about her lot? None. Not a one. Zilch. This was such a refreshing outlook from a character that it made up for some convenient plot developments towards the end of the book (more about that later).

And of course Evy isn’t alone in Dreg City. While including the standard fare paranormal beings like vampires and weres (although I've never before read about were owls aka owlkins), though with unique and interesting twists, Three Days to Dead also brings to light other less prominent beings such as gargoyles, gremlins, goblins, and trolls. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word gargoyle I think of fat little statues singing Disney songs. Kelly's gargoyles are a lot closer to their vampire cousins; stoic, wise, and often indifferent to other creatures. And forget short, they can reach 7ft in height.

But its not just additional creatures that set Three Days to Dead apart, Kelly uses an interesting narrative technique in the flashback scenes where Evy is remembering the days leading up to her death. They are all told in the present tense. This was a gamble that I think paid off big time. The connection between Evy and the reader is strengthened by this present tense and a sense of immediacy is created that would have been impossible if told in the past tense. If you've read any of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games books you'll be appreciative and familiar with this tense. If not, it may take you a paragraph or two to acclimate, but after that I think you'll be so swept up in the scene that you won’t even notice it.

There were only a few things that I didn’t like about Three Days to Dead. As I mentioned before, there were a couple of convenient plot developments that weren’t even hinted at prior to occurring, and I could have wished for a few less species to interact with only because they were each so interesting that I would have liked more time to focus on just one or two, even three. And sadly Evy’s love interest Wyatt fell a bit flat for me. He was a bit too needy, too weak to credibly hold Evy’s interest. She is a strong woman who needs a strong man, and I don’t think he will ever be enough. Where’s an alpha man when you need one?

Minor criticisms aside, Three Days to Dead is easily one of the best urban fantasy debuts I've read in a long time. And lucky for us, As Lie the Dead, Dreg City, book 2, is due out next summer, and Kelly has posted some short stories featuring Evy online at

Sexual Content:
A rape is alluded to but not described. A brief sex scene without graphic descriptions.
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message 1: by CJ - It's only a Paper Moon (last edited Dec 15, 2009 08:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

CJ - It's only a Paper Moon I like your review but I have to disagree on the point with Wyatt. There were points when he was a bit...weak compared to her, but he is the complement and the foil for Evy's impulsiveness and 'too hardness'. They have a great repartee and I think there's more to Wyatt than we think. For example his interaction with Max. He's got something underneath him that we can't quite see. He can be a ruthless son of a bitch (I think) but each time Evy stopped him. That may make him a bit weak in terms of PR/UF but I think his strengths/her weaknesses and vice versa fit each other quite well.

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