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Author: Nessie Strange

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 234 pages

Available: Amazon

Publisher: Etopia Press (January 2014)

MY RATING: 4.0 stars

I received the Kindle edition of this book a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. I started reading it and had to give it some thought. It’s hard to put it into a category. It’s New Adult (most of the major characters are in their 20s). It’s romance, even paranormal romance, though nothing like what I usually see in that category–in a good way. It’s a bit urban fantasy, but not in the usual way (if you consider Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, or Jim Butcher ‘the usual’). So this might take some explanation.

Jen MacLellan is a mortician in Providence, Rhode Island, working in the family business with her dad. She has a long-term (and long-distance) boyfriend and an annoying teenage brother who wants to be drummer of a punk rock band.

The first part of the book is a young woman’s struggle with her brother Drew’s misbehaving and her growing attraction to Drew’s bandmate Jack. It’s a well plotted story about Jen letting go of some of the baggage weighing her down. I quickly got attached to Jen and cheered her own. I learned to tolerate Jack, who’s got his own set of problems. He’s a decent guy, so I was happy for her. The romance was not rushed, and the author developed it in a natural way, superior to some of the romances I’ve seen in Young Adult and New Adult fiction of late. A minor issue was that Jack just kind of showed up at times. Dude, learn to knock, not just let yourself in your girlfriend’s house. So a bit of creep there. Otherwise it was well done.

And then things go bad and fast. The book title and description give it away pretty clearly, so this is no spoiler. I thought I was in a romance, but I knew that Jen was going to die. She does just past the halfway mark, which may be a bit too late. Maybe a third, but half seems a bit long in the tooth.

And so Jen dies. She doesn’t take it well, and she twists Sam, her grim reaper, into letting her come back. The rest of the story flows quickly. Without spoiling, I will say that the author presents one of the most realistic zombies I’ve yet read. She struggles to understand her own death and try to set things right for Jack while dealing with the practical problem that her body is rotting away. Well worth a read if you like zombie stories.

I recommend Living Dead Girl for fans of urban fantasy, New Adult romance, and body horror.