Three Days to Dead
Published 2009 405 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue – in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there – her troubles are only just beginning. Before that night, she and the other two members of her Triad were star bounty hunters -- mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives, but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor – and she can’t even remember what it was.
Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice – and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days, Evy will die again – but this time, there’s no second chance…
Three Days to Dead is the first novel in a gritty new urban fantasy series featuring a resurrected supernatural bounty hunter and a whole host of other paranormal delights by Kelly Meding. It’s also the author’s debut novel but Meding writes with a skill and confidence that belies her newbie author status.
The fantasy world of Three Days to Dead is fairly standard yet well imagined. Vampires, goblins, trolls, weres and various other fey creatures are part of a world that is kept hidden from the general human population. The unnamed city that acts as the setting for the story is lying over a source of magical power that attracts supernatural beings to the area. Occasionally the magical power spills over into the “Gifted” – humans who have some limited talent with using magic – but this is a rare occurrence. Typically the vampires in this story are portrayed as superior snobs – although their superiority to humans is built on their rejection of base human emotions such as lust, greed or vengeance – and not just on the fact that they are immortal or physically stronger. Humans can’t be turned into vampires, once bitten they get transformed into a “halfie” a being with a lust for blood and trouble that both humans hunters and vampires alike hunt.
As a big fan, and dedicated reader, of urban fantasy books the explosion of new books and new authors into this formerly obscure (and sparsely populated) genre has been a mixed blessing. On the plus side there are now plenty of books to choose from and this constant stream of fantastic fiction is large enough to keep even the avid reader supplied with new stories on a weekly basis. On the flip side, with so many writers treading what often feels like the same fictional ground it’s sometimes hard to get past the ever present genre clichés to find novels offering original new twists on this occasionally tired genre. Three Days to Dead makes an imaginative addition to this crowded genre and manages to carve out a couple of original ideas from the standard kick-ass-heroine-tasked-to-save-the-world concept.
For starters the story’s protagonist, supernatural hunter Evy Stone, has already fought, and lost, her last fight. Betrayed by her employers, she saw her fellow hunters murdered before being captured and tortured to death by goblins herself. Raised from the dead she’s resurrected back into a body that’s not her own and finds she has lost all the memories from the week before her death. The resurrection spell gives Evy three days of life. A time that she must use to sort out why she was killed and to rediscover what important secret she carried to her grave – which has been lost along with her memories. The three day deadline is reinforced by a countdown at the start of each chapter adds urgency to the plot, keeping the story fast paced and the plotting tight.
Over-all Evy makes a likeable heroine. Her confusion over her resurrection and her emotional vulnerability from her first death balance the natural strength of her hunter’s character. However my favourite character was Isleen, Evy’s vampire ally. Cool, sleek, collected and capable – Isleen has only a small supporting character role in this story but is intriguing enough that I’d certainly hope to see her in further books.
Three Days to Dead has more than a touch of romance in it too – further adding to the emotional depth and complexity to the story beyond the constant round of investigating, running and fighting that drives the plot forward. The book has a gritty, dark edge, this is a world where bad things happen to good people, but the blood-soaked horror isn’t gratuitous and is sensitively handled.
All-in-all there is plenty to like about Three Days to Dead. Great characters, interesting mythology and an action packed plot. What more could the urban fantasy ask for?
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