Review: Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson (Undead #1)


Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson // VBC ReviewUndead and Unwed (Undead #1)
MaryJanice Davidson
Published: March 2, 2004 (Berkley)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Elizabeth “Betsy” Taylor (she knows) didn’t think things could get worse after losing her job. That is, until the night she’s hit by a car and killed. If waking up in the morgue dressed in her stepmother’s cast-off clothes and knock-off designer shoes wasn’t bad enough, she just can’t seem to stay dead no matter what she tries. After the shock wears off a bit, Betsy realizes she’s not dead but undead—as in, vampire.

Betsy tries to insinuate herself back into the land of the living by showing her parents and closest friend that she’s not dead, and moving on with her life, despite her seemingly constant thirst (and I’m not talking for a soda). But then she meets other vampires—including the frustratingly sexy Sinclair—and suddenly Betsy finds herself being regaled as Queen of the Vampires. I mean just because she can speak the Lord’s name, withstand holy water, sunlight, and control her thirst is normal, right?

Getting ready for the final book in this long-running series, Undead and Done, releasing October 4, I really tried to keep in mind while reading this book when it was written. Where the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres have come from and gone to in the fourteen years since its publication.

In Undead and Unwed immediately what popped in my head was Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse) and Molly Harper (Jane Jameson). But I was also a little surprised to get hints of Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress) in there too. Undead and Unwed is not only funny, but it has some subtler, darker aspects that might be a little masked by the overt humor in the book.

What makes Betsy Taylor such a great character is not only the tongue-in-cheek idea that she’s every vampire cliché’s nightmare. She doesn’t give into the conventions of what a vampire is supposed to be or do; not only because she can withstand the sunlight and wear a cross, but because she refuses to lose who she used to be when she was human and become what society (or lore) dictates she needs to be. She is single-handedly trying to change eons of mythology. Shining such a light on the oft-used legends of old and humorously calling them out was brilliantly done. But none of it could have been achieved if Betsy didn’t try to buck convention in the first place.

Undead and Unwed is definitely a story of how the Queen came to sit upon the throne, so to speak, and for all that, there’s a little bit that suffers due to having the background information and world building aspect to attend to. The issues with the current vampire “ruler” Nostros don’t come across as dire as I think it’s supposed to be. The story takes a bit too long to warm up to that conflict.

But the semi-quasi-whatever-relationship between Betsy and Sinclair is an interesting one. It doesn’t have the normal slow-burn development because, let’s face it, they get a little more than friendly by the end (I’m racking my brain trying remember another pool I’ve read about that’s been so excellently used). But all the slow-burn elements are there. They don’t get along from the get-go. While Sinclair is in awe of Betsy, he’s equally frustrated by her abhorrence to learn anything about living like a vampire. This leaves plenty of room for growth in their relationship down the line.

Soon, it will be the end of our dear Queen Betsy’s reign. While she’s definitely kept things interesting in the last twelve years, it’s always nice to be reminded where she started out.

Sexual content: sex


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4 Responses to “Review: Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson (Undead #1)”

  1. Katie says:

    Looks good!

  2. sarah says:

    ooh la la, this looks like an entertaining read

  3. Laura Lovejoy Brunk says:

    I read like the 1st 3 books and got side tracked….gotta finish this series for sure

  4. This started out as a fun series but after a while, I had to drop it because Besty didn’t grow much.

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