Title: The Vengeful Dead
Author: J.N. Duncan
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Deadworld (Book 2)
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
ISBN-10: 0758255640 (Kensington Books)
ISBN-13: 978-0758255648 (Kensington Books)
Reviewed by: Kristie
Jackie Rutledge just cannot put her past to rest. Her Bureau partner is dead, but not gone. And her sanity is becoming as fragile as her career. Worst of all, a wrenching journey into Deadworld has given her unwanted new abilities – and exhuming memories she hoped to keep buried. Now a merciless force capable of possessing humans is on a killing spree, destroying the guilty and innocent alike. It isn’t long before Jackie is a prime suspect, struggling to stay two steps ahead of her savvy new partner, and her undead P.I. and paramour, Nick. But to clear her name, she’ll have to take on her greatest challenge yet: confronting an inner darkness as inescapable as the one she hunts – and capable of annihilating more than her soul.
Quick & Dirty: This dark urban fantasy contains a decent ghost story, but a stubborn, whiney character slows the story down.
Opening Sentence: Detective Thomas Morgan threw the empty pill bottle out of his cruiser into the manicured hedge separating a pair of half-million-dollar Sterling Heights homes.
The plot in The Vengeful Dead is pretty straightforward. The story picks up two weeks after Jackie survives being thrust into Deadworld, a plane where ghosts reside. Unfortunately for Jackie her trip into Deadworld, left her with some new psychic abilities. Along with her new abilities, Jackie is still mourning the loss of her friend and FBI partner, Lauren, and is in the middle of a mandatory leave from the FBI when Nick and Shelby take Jackie to the scene of a murder to determine what she can do. At the scene they discover a vengeful ghost that is determined to go after her murderers and she will not stop until they are dead. Jackie finds herself locked in a battle for her body while trying not to find herself permanently locked in Deadworld.
The Deadworld plays a major part in the story and the world building of this ghost world is explained in more depth than in Deadworld. I like J.N. Duncan’s take on ghosts and the world that the spirits go to either move on or stay as restless spirits. There are two things that I don’t understand about the human world though. One is how some people seem to be so accepting of the supernatural and the use of the paranormal “abilities” yet they make sure it stays hidden so others cannot find out about its use. The other thing I really don’t understand about this series are the vampires, except for the facts about how they are created, nothing else about the vampires has really been explained. The fact that two of the characters are vampires really just seems like it is a side note to the story. I would like to see more development there.
For the first 200 pages, Jackie is an annoying, whiney, stubborn and self-deprecating character. She also comes off very selfish. Every time she complains it really slows down the story. If you can make it past that to the last 200 pages, Jackie really tries to change herself. Her character finally grows and if she can keep at it, I may see her character in a more favorable light. Nick, the cowboy vampire, is more strongly developed. He has been able to move forward from his past and become a more positive person. He does treat Jackie timidly at times when I think he should be more forceful about his feelings towards her. I really would like to know more about his vampire side.
The Vengeful Dead does contain action and suspense but there is a lot of filler in-between the action scenes that also seem to slow the story down. I could have done without a lot of Jackie’s self-deprecating ways. There is quite a bit of build-up to the climax, but if you are familiar with Deadworld, the battle may be a little predictable but not overly so. There is 40 pages of filler after the final battle, that helps set up the next book in the series, The Lingering Dead, and shows quite a bit more character development. That actually didn’t bother me, since I do like the story to wrap itself up instead of just being “battle’s over, see you next installment with the aftermath”.
Overall, The Vengeful Dead, is a so-so ghost story. Jackie finally grows into a more bearable character, which I really hope continues into The Lingering Dead.
Jackie stepped over to the basement door and squatted down on the balls of her feet. Nick smiled down at the finger that hovered in the space between with the slightest tremble. She glanced back at him with a worried little furrow between her eyes. “I touched blood the last time, but I could hear the baby before that.”
“Likely because it still lingered at the scene. The blood allowed you to turn up the volume, so to speak.”
“Does it always work like that?”
“I find there are no absolutes,” Nick replied, “with the living or the dead. All you can do is try and see. We’ll go from there.”
Jackie laid her hand down flat on the door, covering some of the blood spatter. A moment later her body went rigid, frozen in place, eyes wide, staring at nothing. Nick could feel the urge coming through from the other side, a wash of energy flooding back through the doorway that had been closed for several hours now, but at the touch of her finger had sprung open. No effort at all. Astonishing. She cried out, stumbling away from the door.
Nick stepped forward, using his leg to block her backward motion and scooped his arms down around her waist. Something not remotely close to surprise or fear boiled up out of her throat.
“I . . . will . . . kill you!”
She turned in his grasp, and Nick was so startled by the twisted snarl that warped her mouth and pulled the lines of her face into something he could have scarcely imagined, that he did little more than take a stunned half-step backward. Consequently, his reactions were all too humanly slow and the swinging roundhouse from her small, but effective fist caught him square in the mouth.
The Deadworld Series:
FTC Advisory: Kensington Books provided me with a copy of The Vengeful Dead. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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