Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Title: Deadtown
Author: Nancy Holzner
Series: Deadtown #1
Pages: 327
Publisher: Ace
Format: Paperback
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Won from Amberkatze's Book Blog

They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it

My Review:
Deadtown is just another little Urban Fantasy fish in a sea of more beautiful and exotic fishes. Though it was decent, and checks all of the Urban Fantasy boxes that a paranormal reader wants, somthing about it falls flat and leaves you wanting something more from it. There just wasn't enough originality for me. It's like someone made a checklist for what makes an Urban Fantasy a hit, changed the names of the characters, and re-printed one of the countless other UF books out there. Let's see...Murdered parent(s) which traumatized the MC as a child? (Sookie Stackhouse, Rachel Morgan, Anita Blake, Merry Gentry) Check. Lawyer boyfriend who is a werewolf? (Kitty Northville) Check. Love triangle (Any UF in recent history) Check. Slayer of supernatural despite supernatural abilities? (Anita Blake, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Check.  Really, there were only a few aspects of this book that I haven't already seen somewhere else. It kind of left me feeling bored and trying to just get through it. I will say that if you don't let yourself linger on the similarities to other books in the genre, you will probably enjoy it.

I enjoyed both the idea of having a city set aside for paranormal creature, and the idea demon slayer, but I would have liked to know more about what sets the different paranormal creatures apart. If vampires, shape-shifters, zombies, etc are living together in Deadtown or "The New Combat Zone" and are lobbying for rights, what sets demons apart so that they don't qualify for the same rights? Why are they evil when the other paranormal creatures aren't? Also, I felt that the "coming out" of the paranormal creatures was one of the best and most realistic I've seen. A lot of times, the human reaction to the revelation of the creatures of the night is hideously unrealistic. Sometimes there are riots, or sometimes there is just a nation-wide panic where everyone locks themselves inside, but for the most part, people just seem to accept that there are monsters living among them. They might be prejudiced, but they are typically just like..."Alright then, my neighbor's a vampire, I'll have to go ask him to set me up on a date with Edward Cullen."...While I don't believe that people would nessicarily riot if they found out about vampires, I highly doubt they would just immediately be cool with the late night security guard snacking on their necks or the land-lady going for a stroll as a wolf every full moon. I feel like the creation of a city for the paranormals to live is a very realistic reaction. Humans would want to know that the "others" are seculded and being monitored so that they can be safe. Sure that opens a whole can of moral/civil rights/prejudice issues, but its WAY more likely to happen than any other senario, and I really enjoyed the concept.

I also really enjoyed Holzner's zombies and the originality of the different demons. In Holzner's world, zombies are just people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and just dropped dead, only to rise again as the "previously deceased". I liked that the zombies actually had personalities and continued to be people....only they are people who have trouble with keeping their limbs from falling off their bodies. I feel like Tina, Victory's zombie assistant, was a valiant attempt at humor.  She did inspire some pretty hilarious scenes, but her constant poor decisions, selfishness, and aggressing made me not like her. She could have been a really cool sidekick, but instead I was just really irritated with her and was kind of hoping that the Hellion would finish her off. I don't want to go into too much detail, because finding out about the demons is a large part of the plot, but there are 5 kinds of demons that people are suceptible to. Some of them are vaugely harmless except they can haunt your dreams, but others like the Hellion kill you on contact. The different castes and species of demons were very well illustrated gave a little more oomph to the story that it really needed.

 I was SO not feeling the love for the romantic interests in Deadtown. True to the Urban Fantasy template, there was another love triangle. I am typically all for love triangles, even though it is something that is entirely too overdone. I really enjoy the idea of two guys fighting over a girl (me preferably) but at the same time, there has to be a reason for those boys to be fighting. That girl better be damn well worth the effort, and those boys have to be worthy of the indecision that a main character faces when trying to decide between them. My biggest pet peeve lately is having a love triangle where one of the love interests is by far better than the other, to the point of being a bit ridiculous. When there are hardly any redeeming qualities for one of the loves, it makes you wonder why the MC doesn't just tell him to take a hike. Well...in the case of Deadtown,  neither of the love interests are...interesting, and they certainly don't deserve a main character like Victory. Kane (the werewolf boyfriend) is a work-aholic busybody whose only redeeming quality is being a kick-ass laywer. Daniel, the cop flirty-friend, comes off as weak and boring due to his lack of witty banter and snappy dialogue. Neither character holds a candle to sarcastic, egotistical, hilarious Vicky, and you kind of want to just tell her that she could do better.

The ending was fantastic. It managed to wake be up from the kind of bored-stupor I was in for the majority of the book and allowed me to end the novel on a high note so that I am actually anticipating Hellforged, the next book in the series.If you are willing to struggle through some lulls in the initial story, you will be rewarded with a finale of non-stop action, twists, and fabulousness. The last chapter or two is just constant plot development that not only wraps up the biggest arc of the story, but also takes care of all the side-plots, sub-plots, and questions that you might have had from the earlier storylines. Even the love triangle...though probably one of the most tame and boring love triangle's I've seen in ages, eventually wraps up into some form of conclusion so that you kind of know where the relationships are headed for the next book.
 I give Deadtown 3.5 Keys. I enjoyed it, and I believe that other Paranormal lovers or readers of Urban Fantasy will enjoy it too. However in my point of view,  Nancy Holzner just isn't up to par with other greats of the genre. There is definitely some potential for greatness here, but the writing style and dry sense of humor isn't really my thing. I feel like you would read this series in between release dates of your favorites, for something to keep you occupied until you can get your hands on something you really want.


  1. I really love that you put honest commentary into each aspect of the novel. Even when parts are bad, I really appreciate that you don't condemn the entire novel.

    Great review, as always. I've had this one on my list for a while. Maybe the novels get better as the series goes on.

  2. Good reviews are always honest. How else are other readers going to know whether or not the book is going to be something they will really like. Thanks for th review.