Better Off Dead - Urban Fantasy Book Review
Better Off Dead by H.P. Mallory is a light, entertaining story that engaged me from its opening sentence until the very last word. Like all good books, it begged me to seek out the next. At first, I was not sure I was going to enjoy the book. I am always a little skeptical with Kindle books that are offered for free on Amazon. However, this is one Amazon freebie I do not regret downloading.
Discovered in the fantasy genre, I found this book while seeking a fantasy book with a little romance and adventure. Better Off Dead fits into the Urban Fantasy genre which I find appealing.
Better Off Dead begins with the heroine's death
The story begins with protagonist's final moments of life. We are introduced to a young, business executive, Lily Harper who is running late to work on a very crucial day of her career. With all the distractions inside her car combined with the atrocious weather, I was amazed she did not end up dead sooner.
The story energetically sweeps you away into the heroine's journey of the afterlife. We begin to learn a little bit more about her psyche though the limited, and bizarre choices Lily confronts as she faces up to the fact, that the life she knew is no more. Death just isn't quite what Lily was expecting. Nor was death expecting Lily, at least not quite so soon.
Given the choice of waiting in limbo until it is her time to enter heaven, or an opportunity to experience a little bit more of life albeit in another body, Lily accepts the challenge to become an employee of Afterlife Enterprises. Though her new job requires her to retrieve lost souls from the Hell, waking up in a drop dead, gorgeous body has its perks.
Better Off Dead is a light-hearted read that introduces the audience to the contrasted and intriguing characters of the Lily Harper series. Written for an adult audience, Better Off Dead does not hold back on vulgarity, so be prepared to meet Bill, Lilly's guardian angel who was off womanizing at the time of Lily's untimely death.
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What is an Urban Fantasy?
Urban Fantasy is a sub-genre of Science Fiction & Fantasy (SFF). There are a few varied definitions of Urban Fantasy online by both authors and reference websites, but what follows are the key characteristics of an Urban Fantasy story that most authors and publishers will agree upon:
Key characteristics of Urban Fantasy
- sub-genre of SFF
- often uses an urban setting
- mostly contemporary time periods
- contains supernatural elements
- flawed protagonist
- borrows elements from other genres such as mystery, romance, crime solver, humor, horror, magic
Review Criticisms - Better Off Dead
There were moments during my less than, 24 hour captive read of Better Off Dead, when I felt a little put-off with some elements of the story. The first hangup came with accepting how an inexperienced, young 22 year old could already hold a masters degree and a senior management role in a successful banking firm. Through my personal experience, such a career development is more likely to eventuate in the mid to late twenties, especially given the time it takes to gain a masters degree. While I felt the age of the main character could have been a few years older, I felt this was just a minor hindrance.
The second bugbear arose when acknowledging the heroine's delight of her new, improved body. Lily's lack of curiosity regarding the original body's owner and subsequent demise, was a little daunting. Needless to say, I found her joyous outburst at being the body's new owner a little tactless, and difficult to appreciate. Subscribing myself to Lily's original looks, I found the absence of any grief for her former body difficult to relate too.
Both of these criticisms are merely minor annoyances when compared to the bigger picture. They are easily overlooked as H.P. Mallory pulls you into the funny and fantastical world of Lily Harper.
With all the right ingredients to entrap a reader, Better Off Dead appeals to the adventurous and romantic at heart. Though some readers might be disappointed by the inconclusive romance with Lily's self appointed and mysterious, weapons trainer Tallis Black, there is plenty of sexual tension and romantic intrigue to draw a reader into contemplating more adventures in the Lily Harper series.
Meet the main characters from Better off Dead
Lily is the story's key protagonist. Dead at the age of 22, Lily was an overweight, unattractive and plain looking, corporate executive with career ambitions. As an apology for dying too soon, Lily is given a new address, identity, job and a gorgeous (but used) body to inhabit. There is no denying that Lily is very proud of her new looks.
Billy is Lily's foul mouthed guardian angel. He is short and a squatty and an alcoholic. Assigned to protect Lily from Hell's monsters, Bill has to make up for his previous poor, job performance which resulted in Lily's death..
Enter the tall, brooding, ancient and mysterious warrior. Tallis is ancient and with age comes some deep psychological issues and a little magic. Lily has more than just a mystery to unravel when it comes to Tallis Black who appoints himself as Lily's personal survivalist and weapon's trainer.
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About H.P. Mallory
H.P. Mallory is an American author from Southern California who began her career as a self-published author. Her first two series reached both the Amazon's and Barnes and Noble's Best Seller lists. Her success as a self published author gained H.P. Mallory attention from Random House (Bantam Print) who signed her up for three more books in the Jolie Wilkins series.
H.P Mallory's writing is humorus and fun
The author paints diverse characters with inventive language that helps the reader to imagine delicious accents. Like the author, having lived abroad myself in England, predominantly towards the North, I could easily recreate the accents she envisioned. While the creative writing is not to every reader's liking, many readers will enjoy the artistic contrast of the unlikely group of heroes.
First published as an eBook in March 2013, I appreciate the second edition book cover which reveals a fun, mischievous, red haired heroine, more than the first. This visual theme is extended to the second book in the series published in February 2014. The Underground City is also available for purchase on Amazon.
Though I find it difficult to understand why accomplished authors like H.P. Mallory give away their writing, this free kindle book has gained my interest in this author. Aside from the Lily Harper series, I've also started to introduce myself to her two other series: the Jolie Wilkins series and the Dulcie O’Neil series. As for Lily Harper, I have already purchased and read the second book in the series which despite a slow start, left me eager to read more of Lily's story.
© 2014 Tina Dubinsky
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