Review of UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED by Mary Janice Davidson
Jove, April 2011
Betsy Taylor, queen of the vampires, seems to have it all. She's married to a handsome male who loves her, she's got an adopted child whom she loves, and she's queen of the vampires. A spat with her husband and an offer from Satan convince her to go to Hell along with her half-sister, Laura the anti-Christ. Their journey to Hell quickly becomes a time travel exercise. In a series of pivotal moments in the past of her ancestors, or of the pre-vampire Sinclair, Betsy intervenes, either creating the present she and Laura enjoy (sending Sinclair back to rescue Betsy before she became vampire queen) or fixing that present by changing events that didn't go as well as intended. Ultimately, however, Betsy ends up confronting herself--a distant-future self that's gotten serious and business-like, and that seems to have lost her sense of style and love for shoes.
Author Mary Janice Davidson (see more fantasy by Davidson) has been working the "Undead and..." franchise for a number of years. There's something endearing about Betsy's combination of cluelessness, willful indifference to the people around her, and her basic good-heartedness. In UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED, Davidson continues to deepen Betsy's character, making her regret some of her past indifference to others and attempt to change her personal history to correct some of the problems she created.
UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED also clears up some mysteries established in earlier books. Why, for example, is Sinclair not as dependent on his maker as are other vampires? Why did he have the patience to put up with a self-centered female like Betsy--once he'd consummated their relationship and become king?
For me, UNFINISHED was ultimately less than the sum of its parts. After nine books, I'm tired of Betsy going through the same character arc in each story. Likewise, Betsy going back in time to correct her mistakes smacks of the "I was only dreaming" sequence from Dallas--a chance to bring back characters fans liked but that were sacrificed to move earlier story lines forward. Davidson is a capable writer and UNFINISHED held my interest, but it didn't really grab it. I'd recommend this one only for serious fans of the series.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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