This week’s recommendation comes from the city of Liverpool, where the undead walk among us and are a bit weird.
The novel is called “Red & Dead’ by Violet Fenn and is one of the more surprising urban fantasy novels I’ve read.
Red and Dead Summary
“Red & Dead” by Violet Fenn is an urban fantasy novel about Lilith, who wakes up after a nasty fall to discover she’s no longer entirely human. Following her entrance into the ranks of the undead, she accidentally murders an unsavoury character and finds herself the subject of fascination for the undead denizens of Liverpool.
Along with her friend Izzy and a ghostly relative, she navigates a hidden magical world filled with power struggles between immortals and the power of a city’s spirit.
The novel covers themes of friendship, the power struggles of immortals, the nature of community and dating when you’re undead.
Three reasons to read Red And Dead by Violet Fenn
Character-driven Urban Fantasy
As a genre, urban fantasy novels tend to be very plot-driven. Characters are given enough characterization needed to advance the plot, but no more. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was refreshing to read an urban fantasy novel where the characters were drawn with detail and warmth.
As the plot twists and turns you meet distinctive characters, each with their own traits, flaws, and backstory. This level of care taken with the characters brings the world to life for the reader in a personal way.
Immersive World Building
The author takes the real city of Liverpool and mixes its history with a unique take on the undead and folklore. Fenn’s attention to detail and willingness to provide backstory for her location offers a layered and interesting world for her characters to inhabit.
The author blends the mundane with the magical with ease. Letting characters walk out of a street as real as any other into fantastical situations without it appearing unnatural.
Reading this book is akin to going on a guided tour of a hidden Liverpool, a city with secrets and wonders that bubble beneath the service.
Real Problems in a Fantasy World
Alongside the supernatural suspense and mystery, Lilith also has to deal with more everyday concerns. Recently ‘dead’, Lillith has to balance her personal issues with this supernatural intrigue.
In many ways, it reminded me of the episodes of Buffy where they focussed on the impact on her personal life as much as whatever the ‘big bad’ was doing that week. If you liked these episodes of Buffy you’d probably like this book.
All of this world and character-building does, to a degree, slow the plot down. But it didn’t for a moment drag and it’s worth it to better understand the world and characters you are reading about.
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