I’m really excited for this one because I get to be one of the early reviewers for it and because I really enjoyed the first book in the series. I’m even excited enough to get this one posted on time, so wow. On a less literary note, I’m also probably not going to be posting any more regarding the DC reboot for a bit, this is just a delay until September when I’ll actually get some of the rebooted comics. On the the review!
Agent Jackie Rutledge is still haunted by the death of her partner. She’s falling apart with no anchor and a forced vacation. In comes a vengeance driven serial killer from the wrong side of Deadworld and powers that she doesn’t understand, the side effects of her previous trip into the land of the dead. Jackie’s going to have to pull it together long enough to stop the furious ghost of a grieving mother and prevent herself from becoming suspect number one.
The Vengeful Dead by J.N. Duncan continues the story from Deadworld almost from its end. Jack is still stuck dealing with the emotional upheaval of having failed her partner and being dragged into Deadworld. She and Nick are still uneasy around each other, though he seems much more able to move on that she does. They have to rely on each other to find Rosa and convince her to stop, and convincing her to stop could easily kill them both and destroy all they care about. It’s also one of the most entertaining urban fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time with elements of a murder mystery police thriller and the best parts of a good romance novel. It’s quickly becoming one of a handful of series that keep me interested in urban fantasy and make me want more. In fact, the only low point I can think of is that the antagonist was painfully one note for most of the book, and I’m fairly sure that she was written that way on purpose.
It’s the character growth here that makes the book excellent Jack is still damaged, still angry and confused, and still incapable of standing on her own. She’s stubborn beyond belief though and hits rock bottom quickly thanks to her new powers and the stress of literally chasing ghosts. Nick is still prone to melancholy and worrying about Jack being afraid of him, but he grows enough of a spine to decide to live his unlife and try for the relationship. Shelby seems to be growing more and more into Jackie’s trickster mentor, pissing Jackie off enough to make her tear down her own walls and grow as a character. I’m a little disappointed with Laurel’s use in the book, she’s the only one who doesn’t seem to grow much and remains for the most part just Jackie’s worried friend who wants Jack to heal enough to function on her own. That said I also expect that she’ll get more character development as the series continues and that makes me happy.
I’m OK with waiting for the next Deadworld novel only because I only have to wait until next April and because I get to be an early reviewer for this one. The series is good enough and The Vengeful Dead is enough better than Deadworld that I don’t particularly want to wait, but I can. Duncan is now an immediate add to my “to read” list. Where does that leave my review of The Vengeful Dead? It leaves it at a four and a half out of five because I still can’t get Rosa out of my head as just a horribly driven monster.
So, editing on 8/31/2016, I stopped doing half stars in my reviews pretty quickly since most places that host reviews require an even number out of five. So, for the sake of the new “Rating” category, this is counted as a five star book.