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.