Saturday, December 11, 2010

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Vicky Vaughn is a shapeshifter and a professional demon slayer, mostly of demons infesting people's dreams, although she's good at taking down harpies too. Like most urban fantasy heroines, she lives in Boston (I don't know what's wrong with Boston in real life, but it's sure a mess in fantasyland). A few years before, Boston was the focus of a short-lived but nasty virus that killed people instantly--and then reanimated them. The resulting zombies, along with other paranormals like werewolves, vampires, and Vicky herself, are forced to live in the restricted section of Boston now called Deadtown. Paranormals have few rights in Massachusetts and none elsewhere, but Vicky's (sorta-kinda) boyfriend, a lawyer and a werewolf, is working on that. Days before a key election, though, Vicky has her hands full dealing with a Hellion--a powerful demon that seems to be targeting her.

I enjoyed Deadtown thoroughly and I'm looking forward to the sequel, which will be released in a few weeks. It's not a perfect book, though. I liked Vicky, especially when she lost her temper and opened the whoopass can (not a moment too soon, either); on the other hand, she misses some pretty obvious hints about what's going on.

The worldbuilding is interesting, but I thought it was a little over-the-top when it came to paranormal rights. Seems like in a world where demons are a real threat and where humans can wield magic, paranormals would fit right in. Still, I do like the way Holzner explores human rights and racism in the coded way that fantasy novelists can.

The plot kept me riveted and I read the book straight through yesterday evening. Holzner has an easy, competent style that doesn't draw attention to itself and her characters feel realistic. I did find Tina the teenage zombie sidekick ridiculously annoying. Hopefully she won't end up in the sequel. The vampires and werewolves are pretty stock, but Vicky's own shapeshifting abilities are different and interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how Holzner develops the world and characters in the next book.

B&N link

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