by Sela Carsen, paranormal (2006)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-184-X
Oh, look at me, I'm still smiling. No, no, it's not that I am smiling because I have fresh meat to rend asunder on this website, hmmph. It's because when I open a book not knowing what to expect and I have a very good time, it's a great kind of serendipity that has me smiling. Sela Carsen's Not Quite Dead is absolutely fun to read from start to finish.
Sabine Harper finds herself keeping watch one cold night in a graveyard over her cousin Lily as Lily and some dingbat friends that Sabine calls the Moron Squad attempt to raise a zombie. Sabine is of course confident that those silly Goth-wannabes will go home disappointed but at least watching the Moron Squad will be more exciting than an evening at home in front of the TV.
When a man comes out of the dark woods to say hello to Sabine right after Lily has finished the incantation, that's just a coincidence, right? But coincidence along with all hells break loose with a guy jumps out from the grave that the Moron Squad were just mumbo-jumboing over. Sabine finds herself quickly enough entangled in an adventure involving a fellow given a second chance by the Fates to avenge himself on his former good-buddy turned vampire who killed him and stole his girlfriend and the vampire himself.
The graveyard avenger is Willem Breux and he's no rotting zombie, thank heavens, just someone who knows how to make a melodramatic entrance into the world the second time around. The vampire - the one whom Sabine met earlier in the graveyard - is Richard St Ivraie. With a name like Richard St Ivraie (not to be confused with Richard St Ives, of course), I suppose that fellow is just begging to be a vampire, sigh. The two men were good friends until Richard supposedly stole and turned Willem's beloved Rose and the two of them managed to kill off Willem just before his wedding with Rose can take place. Sabine may or may not be the reincarnation of Rose but the attraction is there between her and Willem. What will happen now?
Not Quite Dead is correctly marketed as a novella-length book since it clocks up to a mere 83 pages (including the cover and all). However, this book feels much longer than 83 pages because I am completely engrossed in the story while I'm reading it. The pacing is well-done - the story moves fast like a rollercoaster ride to Hip-hip Hurray land or something - while the romance is actually very convincing despite the fast pace and short duration over which the story takes place. I can't expect depths of characterization in a story of this length, of course, but Sabine is funny, intelligent, and capable of taking care of herself while Willem is a noble "bent on vengeance" kind of guy who also happens to be caring and romantic at the same time. These two are really fun to read and their chemistry is pretty good.
This book has action, romance and comedy and packs a pretty hard punch as well. I really have a wonderful time reading it. Sure, it's short, but it's also very enjoyable. A quick bite-sized read that feels so good is exactly what I find Not Quite Dead to be.
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