Dell, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-553-59287-0
As Lie the Dead takes off immediately one day after the events in Three Days to Dead, so you may want to read these books in the proper order. At any rate, read the review of the previous book if you are new to the series for the lowdown on the main characters and their story so far.
In this one, Evangeline Stone has barely caught her breath after events in the previous three days when she is approached by the last of the Owlkins for sanctuary and help. You see, Evy took refuge with them before the events of the previous book, and the Triads pretty much killed most of the Owlkins for doing so. Now Evy feels a degree of responsibility to care of them, especially when one of them is with child, although that doesn’t mean she will be nice to them. In the meantime, a Triad leader who tried to nab her in the previous book is now being set up by Evy’s ex-superiors to take the fall for the events in the previous book. Evy decides to help him by spending less than a day to identify the real leaders of the Hunters and bring them down.
This book follows the same formula as the previous book – a fast-paced urban fantasy story where you can practically hear the clock tick with every second. However, while the previous book is a joy to read, here I find every word an excruciating pain to take in. A big problem here is Evy. I don’t know what happened between the previous book and this one, but our heroine has mutated into a blindly loyal and racist idiot who treats all non-humans like vermin stuck at the sole of her shoe, when these non-humans had been her allies against her own people in the previous book. It’s really bizarre to follow her as she says and does things that hurt these people’s feelings. Sometimes she realizes what she has done, but that’s the extent of her self-awareness as she keeps doing what she does. I would be fine with this behavior if the author is setting Evy up for some character growth, but no, Evy’s bigoted thoughts and words seem to be instead sass gone awry.
Evy’s problematic behavior doesn’t stop there. She behaves like a rabid dog with no brains here. I’ve lost count of how many times she jumps into a fight only to realize that she’s outnumbered or she has forgotten her weapon (oopsie). The poor Owlkin sidekick guy she has gained here has to come to her rescue frequently, not that she thanks him much for his patience and magnanimity. Evy also lies unnecessarily, gains useful powers that she refuses to use because she’s so tough that way, and keeps getting injured so often as a result of her reckless stupidity that I wonder whether this is the same heroine that kicked rear ends in Three Days to Dead. It is a good thing that Ms Meding has given Evy the wonderfully convenient powers to heal herself, because at the rate our dumb drooling dyspeptic mad mastiff of a heroine is going, she should have been dead by page 50. You can’t even say hello to Evy without her taking some kind of offense and leaping at your throat, although given how incompetent she is in this story, you can probably send her into a coma by hitting her head with a feather duster.
It doesn’t help that in this story, the plot is a bit too big to be fitted into such a short duration, at least not in a believable manner. This book actually has a sagging middle as Evy spends a lot of time complaining about people helping her (really) and whining about how she has to take care of everything while the plot threads in the early parts of the book are more or less forgotten. In fact, now that I think of it, Evy spends a lot of time in this story moaning and whining – although there is one part where she is blissfully knocked out for 12 hours or so – as well as doing stupid things, but her actions don’t seem to affect the plot much. Things just… happen at the last few chapters to wrap things up, and then it’s time to go home.
As Lie the Dead is an unbelievably bad book, made even more so by how much I’ve enjoyed the previous book. I’ve seen sophomore slumps many times before, but never one this drastic! I’m now terrified to pick up the next book in this series.