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Undead and Unemployed, by Mary Janice Davidson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 6/17/2009
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 6 out of 10

Undead and Unemployed, by Mary Janice Davidson

Book Review by SJ Higbee

Have you read this book?

This is one of the fluffier offerings of chic-spec I've read. In a sub-genre that generally doesn't take itself too seriously, this book is more firmly tongue in cheek than most -- think Clueless rather than Buffy.

For starters, the protagonist is a ditzy blonde with a thing for shoes. Nothing can make Betsy Taylor give up her shoe fetish -- not even dying and rising as the new Queen of the Vampires. Only being royally undead doesn't mean there aren't still credit card bills to be paid. Luckily, Betsy lands her dream job: selling designer shoes at Macy's Department Store.

But then there's a string of vampire murders in town and Betsy has to enlist the help of the one vamp who makes her blood boil: the oh-so-sexy Eric Sinclair. Only the last time she ran into Sinclair she accidentally fulfilled an ancient prophesy -- and ended up married to him...

Written in first person POV, the story might be fairly light-hearted -- but it is well crafted and the character is convincingly dim. Which I find endearing -- and I am conscious that writing a stupid heroine isn't as easy as it might seem, having tried it and thrown the result across the room in disgust...

If I have a niggle, it is that Betsy tends to go on and on about how much she dislikes Eric -- while the reader knows that in stories of this type that means that it is a sure thing the pair of them will finally get together. I also found the liberal use of the f-word rather jarring. I realise that swearing and graphic sex scenes are par for the course in this sub-genre. But in this particular book, it just didn't seem to fit the chirpy and humorous mood. Having said that, I'm aware that I am older by several decades than the target audience.

But do I celebrate the fact that this book -- and a slew of others like it is out there? You bet. If only I'd had this sub-genre to fall back on, when I wanted to chill out from the grittier stuff -- instead of tired old Mills and Boon! Young women brought up on a diet of quality fantasy want something 'other' than the clichÚd staples of secretaries dating bosses... nurses dating doctors... in their light romances. And now they have it with vamp chicks strutting around, biting/agonising over human lovers and/or solving murders. The love interest might be just as trite -- but at least the heroine is less annoyingly vapid and the hero is less worryingly chauvinistic.

And if your taste runs to this sub-genre, you could do a lot worse than Undead and Unemployed.

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