Three Days to Dead: I loved the trolls

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book review Kelly Meding Evangeline Stone 1. Three Days to DeadThree Days to Dead by Kelly Meding

Evangeline Stone is a Dreg hunter, charged with protecting mundane humanity from the things that go bump in the night, until the night she is betrayed. Her teammates are killed, Evy is framed for their deaths and forced to run, and then somehow — she can’t remember just what happened — she ends up dead. She is resurrected, but in the body of a stranger, and with big holes in her memory. Now she must unravel the mystery of her own murder and how it ties into a larger conspiracy. And she only has three days to do it before she dies again, permanently.

The wrong-body theme seems to be popping up a lot lately. I’ve seen it in Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series, and in Julie Kenner’s Blood Lily Chronicles, and now here, in the Evangeline Stone series. It’s interesting to see different authors’ takes on a plot element that’s almost popular enough to be a nascent trend, but not popular enough to be a cliché. Urban fantasy heroines often find themselves fighting for their lives in situations where they’re in over their heads. It only gets messier when you’re wearing someone else’s face and trying to live that person’s life without blowing your cover! In Three Days to Dead, there’s a little less of that than usual. Chalice Frost, the woman whose body Evy now inhabits, lived somewhat of a lonely life before committing suicide, and had few friends. Evy doesn’t have a lot of Chalice’s acquaintances to deal with. However, there’s one friend of Chalice’s who plays a major role in the story, and every scene involving him is poignant. He blames himself for Chalice’s death, then is overjoyed that she’s alive after all, except really, she’s not…

If I have any gripes about the body-switching element, it’s that it seems like Evy’s colleagues and enemies accept a little too easily that she is Evy. I think that’s because Evy spends most of the book among people who know about the magic that exists in the world and know that resurrection spells exist.

Moving on to the plot, we follow Evy and her friend Wyatt (the one who resurrected her) as they try to uncover a secret plot brewing among the city’s Dregs. Alongside this investigation is Evy’s quest to piece her memory back together. The solution to the mystery may be something that’s been lurking in her mind all along.

I don’t say this often about urban fantasy, but I think the romantic subplot may have been my favorite part of Three Days to Dead. Everything about it is handled really, really well. I like Wyatt, who’s a far cry from the overly-possessive “I am alpha male, hear me roar!” love interests who are all too common in this subgenre. He’s a three-dimensional, complicated, conflicted man whose love for Evy is obvious. I found myself rooting for this couple even though it seems impossible for both of them to survive the events of the book. I also found Kelly Meding’s treatment of Evy’s past trauma to be sensitive and realistic. She’s suffered some horrible things, and they don’t just magically go away when she and Wyatt get together.

Other things I loved: “First Break,” a subterranean fairyland. The trolls. The revelation of Chalice Frost’s backstory, and the ramifications of this backstory on Evy’s new existence.

Three Days to Dead is a good addition to the urban fantasy shelves, with a convincing and moving love story, some great settings and imagery, and a plot that’s complex but still makes sense.

~Kelly Meding


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book review Kelly Meding Evangeline Stone 1. Three Days to DeadWhen Dreg hunter Evangeline Stone wakes up in the morgue, in someone else’s body, she knows that something went wrong. Things get worse when she discovers that she’s been falsely accused of treason against her fellow Dreg hunters and is wanted for their murders. She has only three days to clear her name before the resurrection spell wears off and she’s dead for keeps. During her investigation, Evy becomes entangled in the politics of the same creatures who, as a Dreg hunter, she’s supposed to kill.

I was immediately intrigued by Evy’s story. Waking up in someone else’s body? That’s fun. The woman whose body Evy now inhabits has a love interest, and so does Evy, so that’s fun, too. Evy lives in a city that is teeming with paranormal creatures which most of its citizens are oblivious to. Fun, fun, fun.

So, I should have enjoyed Three Days to Dead, but I didn’t. The writing is well done, the audio production (Tantor Audio) I listened to was excellent, and there is plenty of tension and suspense, but the plot is not as exciting as its premise, and there is nothing unique or particularly fascinating about the world building.

What I disliked most about Three Days to Dead, though — and this is the clincher — is that I just didn’t like Evy. She’s the typical nobody-ever-loved-me-so-now-I’m-a-snarky-bitch-who-kicks-ass heroine. I don’t like these types of characters, or the sarcastic banter they think is funny, which is why I read very little paranormal urban fantasy with female leads. Furthermore, the romance is such a big part of the plot of these novels, but I never believe in the romance because I can’t figure out what kind of dolt falls in love with a woman like that. In this case, Evy’s love interest does something really stupid to give her the three days to live and I had a hard time believing it. He says he loves her because he admires her spirit. Sorry — that’s not enough. Evy isn’t worth it, which means he’s an idiot.

I’ve admitted that I don’t usually like this genre, so you may be wondering why I read Three Days to Dead. Well, sometimes I do like these books. I love Karen Moning’s FEVER series which features an awesome protagonist (I guess she’s awesome because her parents love her). But the real reason I picked up Three Days to Dead was that I wanted to read something narrated by Xe Sands. Indeed, her narration was superb and she’s the only reason I stuck with Three Days to Dead until the end. Both her male and female voices were perfect and I felt that her spot-on narration actually made the story more exciting than it truly was. But not enough to make me want to read the next book.

~Kat Hooper


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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9 comments

  1. It’s a really fun book. :)

  2. this sounds really good! I’m all up for a complicated urban fantasy romance! the three day deadline sounds rather high tension to me, I hope it’s not a tragedy…

    I’d love to win a copy please!

    ninefly(at)gmail.com

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention–the heading of each chapter shows how many hours Evy has left. It’s nailbitey stuff! I won’t spoil the ending! :)

  4. I thought this book was a 4 star, too. Really fun. I haven’t finished it and I’m dying to read the ending.

    S

  5. Please include me in the giveaway. I’ve heard so many things about it that I would like to see for myself.

    spettolij AT gmail DOT com

  6. Heard a lot of great reviews for this book, would love to win it :)

    thanks for the giveaway

    van p.

    Littopandaxpress(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. Yeah, I have a way higher tolerance for that type of snarky heroine, and I think that’s the #1 reason I generally like these UFs more than you do. There are some that are too bitchy even for me, though, so I know what you mean even if Evy in particular didn’t hit that threshold for me! :)

  8. You’re right. That’s the difference between our preferences. I think I get enough snark from listening to my kids, so I don’t have much tolerance for it when I’m reading for relaxation.

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