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Undead and Done

March 6, 2017

I often peruse the shelves of audiobooks at the public library, and about a year ago I happened upon an entire row of supernatural/comedy books about a woman named Betsy who loves shoes and becomes a vampire. Starting with Undead and Unwed, I listened to four or five of them, in order but out of sequence, because for some reason the library doesn’t own them all. They were kind of fun but got irritating if I listened to one too often—too many of the same jokes and references—Betsy’s last name is Taylor, so don’t call her Elizabeth, she loves smoothies (vampires can’t eat solid food in this world), and fashionable shoes (I’d never heard of some of the designers she’s fond of, but I looked them up and they’re real).

When I found Undead and Done on the shelf of new books and read that the author claims this is the last one, I decided to speed-read it and find out how everything ends.

And things do end. There’s a wacky time travel/alternate universe plot in some of the middle books, and it’s resolved. The group of friends who live with Betsy and her (undead) husband Sinclair all get happy endings. Marc–who always stands up for her and says, in this last book “I’m for Team Betsy. Always have been”–finally finds a man worthy of his love. There’s even a David Bowie reference (newsflash: he is not in hell).

The ongoing confrontation between Betsy and her half-sister the Antichrist comes to a head, and I enjoyed Betsy’s familiar style of interior monologue in response to her sister’s accusation that “you cheated me of my birthright” which goes like this:
“So not in the mood for the ‘Satan and I tricked you into running Hell but now I want to bitch about the consequences’ chat. I’d warned her at the time that getting your own way was often as much a curse as it was a blessing. See: Sinclair’s life, death, and afterlife, also mine, the Ant finally landing my father, and anyone who voted for Hitler back in the day.”

I think that much of the delight of these novels comes from the irreverent tone and the frequent asides, like this one:
“’We’ve got an Assembly of vampires about to descend on us in all their fang-gnashing rage.’
‘Are you pronouncing assembly like it’s capitalized on purpose?’
‘Yes. Murder of crows. Pack of wolves. Flock of geese. Assembly of vampires.’
‘Asshat of vampires,’ Marc suggested, and I giggled like a kid—couldn’t help it.
‘Nice to see you lighten up, Betsy. You’ve been pretty grim lately. Well, grim for you.’
‘Well, weird shit is happening. More so than usual, even. Perfect example: we’re hanging out on a dock waiting for a mermaid to swim up and say howdy.’
Sinclair glanced at me. ‘Undersea Folk, my queen.’
‘Sometimes she’s got legs; sometimes she’s half fish.’ At all times, she’s a grump. ‘Mermaid.’
‘You can’t use that word!’ Marc faux snapped. ‘That’s their word!’”

The comic footnotes are also fun. For example the briefest one, to a train of thought from a woman Betsy has “paroled” from hell to make amends on earth for what she did in the 1970s:
“’Great to see you again, sorry I ruined your life and let you rot in prison for a crime I committed, and wow, I did not see the heart attack coming! My sad.’ That’s what the kids say, right? My sad?*
*Yeah, no.”

Betsy’s sarcasm is always a delight, too:
“Sinclair walked into the kitchen, BabyJon slung over one shoulder….’This child is getting tired,’ he said by way of greeting, gaze glued to his phone. Just like a man, or a monarch: make an announcement and wait for everyone around you to scramble to fix it.
‘Thanks for the update,’ I said sweetly.”

Undead and Done is good escapism, which is all I was looking for. Take my advice, though–if you’re going to read it, start with the first one, pick one from the middle, and then read this last one. It’ll be quite enough.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2017 12:41 pm

    Not something I would read but they do sound like fun entertainment. I always enjoy snarky asides in book s like these. One of the reasons I like the Discworld books so much.

    • March 7, 2017 10:28 pm

      Since I started this blog, I have read a lot more horror/comedy. It’s a growing genre.
      I should try a Discworld book; I have a number of friends who like them.

      • March 8, 2017 8:25 am

        It’s fun to look back and see where blogging has influenced your reading choices. I never used to read graphic novels/comics and these days I generally have at least one on the pile and a bunch more on hold at the library. You’ve never read a Discworld book? You are in for a treat when you do!

  2. March 8, 2017 3:49 pm

    We all need escapism! (Especially now!) We’ve got some of these here at the library but I’ve never read them. I like your recommendation on how to approach them. Sometimes authors just drag a series out way too long.

    • March 8, 2017 3:52 pm

      Yes–I’m usually a fan of beating a joke to death (my favorite movie has always been Young Frankenstein), but these jokes just didn’t stand up that treatment.

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