Don't let the title of the book fool you, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between is quite a lively tale!
Rhiannon Murphy sees dead people. But unlike a certain member of the Osment family, she doesn't whine about it, she simply looks the ghosts in the eye and tells them to go find someone else to haunt! But when her abilities to see and communicate with ghosts attract the attention of a vampire named Disco, Rhiannon may finally have found something that scares even her. Someone has been murdering vampires...and stealing their hearts! And as Rhiannon works more closely with Disco, she realizes that he's beginning to steal HER heart. Rhiannon's finds her feelings for Disco are quite dangerous...but not nearly as dangerous as the unknown enemy that's now hunting her!
I entered this book looking for a kick-ass heroine, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Rhiannon is strong, sassy, and there are many layers to her underneath her gruff exterior. Much of the story is focused directly on Rhiannon, and that is crucial to the book's success, as she is a lot of fun to read about. Like many people, I sometimes cast actors as characters while reading, so for Rhiannon, I needed to go with someone who can perfectly portray a tough-talking and even tougher-acting lady. Add to that the fact that the author describes Rhiannon as having dark hair, dark eyes, and a smoky voice, and I almost wonder why Saare didn't just name the character "Eliza Dushku" and be done with it!Dushku says, "Yeah, I know my shoes don't match my outfit. Go ahead, say something about it...I dare you!!!"
In addition to Rhiannon, there are other engaging characters to be found within these pages. Disco is a perfect foil for Rhiannon, as he's much more sensitive and reserved than Rhiannon, yet just as strong in his own way. Disco also associates with a family of vampires, some of which also have personalities that sparkle. Ummm...I mean sparkle in the good way...not the "Twilight" way...
But after Rhiannon, I think my next favorite character would have to be Ethan (who Rhiannon insists on referring to only as "Goose", much to his chagrin). Ethan is a paranormal investigator who tries to help Rhiannon hone her abilities to communicate with the dead, and he is just awkward enough to be charming without being annoying. His annoyance with Rhiannon's methods provide some much-needed comic relief as the story progresses.
And what a story it is! I don't want to give away too much, but I will say that there were quite a few elements that I really enjoyed. One rather compelling plot point involves vampires selling their blood as a kind of recreational "drug" to humans, as it gives humans enhanced abilities for a few hours. The supernatural elements manage to be exciting and even spine-tingling at times. The overall mystery as to who is killing the vampires is also quite gripping, and I never saw the reveal coming. But one crucial subplot involves the growing love between Rhiannon and Disco. Now, personally, I'm not usually one to pick up a romance novel...it's not that I'm "anti-love" or anything, but it's just not my first genre of choice. However, despite that, I felt this paranormal romance was very well executed! There are moments that are quite tender and moving. While there is a little too much "insta-love" on Disco's part at first, overall it really feels like you're experiencing two people growing more and more deeply in love with each other. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance go almost hand-in-hand these days, and while sometimes the romance element can feel shoe-horned, in this case it flowed perfectly.
I was very close to giving this the full 5 stars...but there were a couple of things that did leave a bad taste in my mouth. While Rhiannon is great throughout most of the book, there are times where she's just grating instead! Yes, her sass is fun for the most part, but there are moments where she can be bitchy and just downright mean. One baffling occurrence of this is when she goes to interview a suspect, and she feels the need to make cruel jokes about the receptionist's weight. And then she even tops it off by flipping the receptionist the bird...despite the fact that the receptionist never does anything to warrant this animosity. While I applaud Saare for being brave enough to give us a genuinely flawed lead character, Rhiannon has her moments where she's completely unlikable. And another problem with her was her backstory. Again, I don't want to give away any twists, but let's just say the story of Rhiannon's past have been told many times...and many more times after that! I pretty much knew exactly what Rhiannon's big secret was going to be, as it is one of the oldest cliches in the book...if an author ever wants to do something that's never been done before, how about they write a story where a child actually has a POSITIVE experience with a foster family?!? Rhiannon may be the book's greatest asset, but there are times she winds up in the liability column.
Even with it's somewhat flawed heroine, I still highly recommend this book. As there is a growing buzz around the "Rhiannon's Law" series, I wonder if this story will make it to the big screen someday. If so, I'm holding out hope that Eliza Dushku will get the part as Rhiannon...and for once, I'm not just saying that because I'd like Eliza Dushku to appear in EVERY movie! ;)