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Dead Matter, by Anton Strout
Genre: Modern/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Published: 2009
Review Posted: 6/10/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Dead Matter, by Anton Strout

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

I finished Dead Matter the other night and I have to say that Anton Strout is definitely improving as a writer as this series progresses. With the first book, I thought there were some "debut book/new writer" issues (of which I suffered from myself with my books). Mostly these were things like a little bouncing around and looseness in the plot and a few odd emotional reactions from the characters. Things like an extreme mood swing that wasn't properly motivated, etc. In the second book, the plot issues smoothed out tremendously (although there were a few bumps in the road), and the character things weren't so extreme although I did think Simon Canderous, the main character, got angry too often for extremely minor issues.

The third book is much more solid. The plot (involving vampires, but not the expected way for an urban fantasy) was very straight forward without any odd twists and turns. There were twists and turns, of course, but they didn't feel thrown in. Everything happened for a reason and for a purpose and the actions of the characters were dictated by the plot, so there was no random "Simon goes here for no apparent reason" kinds of things. (OK, there was ONE spot where I felt that three scenes could have been accomplished in just two, but this is minor.) As I said, the plot was tighter in the second, but it was MUCH tighter and fluid in Dead Matter.

But what really impressed me most about this third book was the advancement in the characterizations. The beginning of the book focuses in on Simon and his relationship with his partner Connor. This is what drives the plot forward at first. We also deal with Simon and Jane's relationship. These relationships aren't necessarily complex, but the plot depends on them, whereas in the past two novels the plot didn't. Simon gets angry here, again, but not as extreme and his reasons for getting angry make sense (again, there are one or two places where this slips, but those are rare). This improvement in characterization doesn't just apply to Simon, Connor, and Jane either. The main conflict comes down to one of the Enchancellers named Allorah, and her back story and emotional state are integral to the plot.

In addition, this book has some significant connections to what happened in the second book. So overall, the characters and the plots are getting much more complex, and the writing itself is improving dramatically in each book. I'm looking forward to the fourth novel, Dead Waters, coming at the end of February.
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