Fashionably Dead

Fashionably Dead_RobynPeterman_18455548

 

THE LAST TWO PAGES RUINED IT

3 STARS

I absolutely hate it when an author takes a fantastic, page-turning, into-the-middle-of-the-night read, gets to the end, takes a 180-degree twist and screws the story – and the reader – up. All Peterman had to do was stop two pages before she did. But more about that later!

Astrid has just buried her beloved grandmother. Her mother has despised her since birth and she has never known her father. And she needs to quit smoking. Since she can’t bring her grandmother back or determine the identify of her father and since she can’t seem make her mother love her regardless of what she does, she decides that the only thing she can control is the smoking.

However, when Astrid resorts to hypnotism to deal with the smoking issue, the supposed hypnotist forces her into a trance. Thirty-six hours later, Astrid awakens as a vampire. And she also awakens to a houseguest – a guardian Angel named Pam, who looks exactly like Oprah. Shortly thereafter, she acquires another houseguest, a Fairy named Kevin, who looks like Schwarzenegger and who has been brought in to teach Astrid how to fight.

It seems that Astrid, unknown to her, was originally born a demon-human hybrid and has been reborn as a vampire called The Chosen One, the long-prophesied savior of the Vampyre King and the ultimate protector of the Vampyre race. It also appears that she is fated to be the mate of Ethan, Warrior Prince of the North American Dominion and son of the Vampyre King.

From the opening chapter, the book is captivating. It is hilarious and profane one minute and deadly serious the next. Told from Astrid’s first person POV, the thoughts expressed in her internal monologues flow so naturally – profane or not, complete sentence or fragment – that you can’t help but think that this is the exact same way the author thinks in her own head. Peterman even throws in, when the reader least expects it, a bit of paraphrasing on some of the more famous quotes from Twilight. And it is a fantastic take on the we’re-fated-to-be-mated, love and lust at first sight, paranormal vampire story.

Before you can wipe the tears from your eyes that result from the spot-on snark and sarcasm, Peterman flips the mood and plunges the reader into some serious psychological maneuvering. One of the most succinct quotes that I have ever read regarding the acceptance of responsibility and duty occurs in an exchange between Astrid and Ethan:

Astrid: “I’m not ready for all this.”

Ethan: “Ready does not factor into the equation, Angel. Life happens whether we are ready or not – the only choice or control we have is whether or not we will rise to meet its challenges.”

So with all this praise for the book, why did I rate it at only 3 stars and why the sharp opening paragraph to this review? The answer is three situations – one irritating, one inexcusable and one disgusting.

First, the irritating problem is that no major character has a last name provided, and few of the supporting characters have last names either. Somewhere towards the end of the book, Astrid’s last name seems to slip in, but I’m really not sure. Fortunately, no two characters have similar first names but the device does not help the reader become attached to the characters or feel that they have more than two-dimensional depth.

Secondly, the inexcusable problem is the presence of multiple editing errors – transpositions, missing words, misplaced words, missing punctuation and misspellings. This situation is more prominent toward the end and could have been avoided by a good proofreader or a team of qualified beta readers.

And then Robyn Peterman ruins it. She ends the book with a cliffhanger. Mind you, this is not a tantalizing hook meant to entice the reader into continuing the series. Oh, no – this is a nasty, depressing, oh-you-did-not-just-do-this cliffhanger! As I stated earlier, all Peterman had to do was stop two pages before she did and the reader would be satisfied, with the hook for the next novel set in the reader’s mind. Granted, what she wrote in those two pages is not as bad as the last page of Karin Slaughter’s final book in her Grant County series, but it is definitely a teeth-grinder.

Because Peterman’s writing is so fresh and enjoyable and because she has built a fine paranormal world, I will continue to read her Hot Damned series. However, since she has established a precedent for blind-siding her readers, I will not purchase additional entries in the series, nor read them, until the series is complete. That way I can read straight through and minimize the damage to both my anger quotient and my blood pressure. 

Cover Art from Goodreads

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