Review of UNDEAD AND UNPOPULAR by Mary Janice Davidson (see her website)
Berkley Sensation, June 2006
Betsy, Queen of the Vampires, is having a tough time. Her wedding is only three months away and she is unready. She's sure her friends are planning a surprise birthday party that she doesn't want--and hopes they will throw. When a visiting delegation of European vampires visit, it turns out that one of them was responsible for turning one of Betsy's vampire friends. What, exactly, is the penalty for a two-hundred year old murder? Especially if the victim is still around. Meanwhile, Betsy's friendly ghost keeps announcing that there's a zombie in the attic, Betsy's best friend is sick, and Betsy has decided to give up on sucking blood--causing all sorts of problems for her fiance/husband/king Eric Sinclair.
Author Mary Janice Davidson (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Davidson) has followed Queen Betsy's progress through several novels now. The concept of a scatter-brained blonde becoming the Queen of the Vampires because she isn't subject to most vampire weaknesses is a strong one that generally creates interest. Romantic foil Eric Sinclair is tough enough to be sexy, yet completely fixated on satisfying Betsy's needs. That and he's a super-rich vampire--hard not to like that.
Davidson's breezy first-person narrative creates a strong flow, encouraging the reader to tackle just one more page, one more paragraph. Wide-spaced lines and plenty of white space ensure that even the most book-averse reader can make it through. Still, I was expecting more from this book. Generally, characters should change and grow in a novel. That really didn't happen here. Betsy's self-absorbtion is funny, but it does make her less sympathetic, and it became hard to really care about her problems--reducing the story conflict. I found the resolution to the problem of the European murderer unsatisfactory as it had nothing really to do with Betsy, and the whole zombie thing left me scratching my head trying to figure out what that was about and why I should care.
Mary Janice Davidson is a talented writer and there are some truly funny moments in this book. If you need your Queen Betsy fix, definitely give UNDEAD AND UNPOPULAR a read. If you happen to miss it, don't worry--nothing much happened.
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