Book Review: Once Dead, Twice Shy

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
Series:Madison Avery #1
Release Date: May 2009 
Publisher:Harper Collins
Pages: 256 

Madison Avery isn’t your everyday normal teenager. She’s got a spunky attitude, purple hair, oh, and she’s dead. That’s right, she’s dead. The only thing giving her any illusion to life is a strange amulet she stole from the dark reaper who tried to kill her. Stuck in a purgatory of dead but not gone, Madison longs for her old life (and body) back. If she could only figure out who the dark reaper was and why he was after her!

Things get a little sticky as secrets are revealed and truths become a million shades of grey. Light vs. dark, free will vs. fate…who are the good guys and how does Madison fit among them? With the help of a couple of reapers, her crush, a guardian angel, and a little creativity, Madison may just be able to take control of her future before it comes crashing down around her.

I think the number one complaint I’ve heard about this book is how confusing it is. I will admit that Harrison doesn’t set up her universe very well, but I’m not sure the reader is meant to know what exactly is going on. Yes, I had no idea what a light reaper, dark reaper, or time keeper was, but I just rolled with the punches and allowed the story to unfold. I still have a few questions about the logistics of the world, but by the end of the book I had a pretty good handle on it. (On a side note: I have heard there is a short story in Prom Dates from Hell that tells about the prom night and sets the story up better. I have not had the chance to read it yet so can’t verify this, but I would recommend giving a try before starting Once Dead, Twice Shy.)

Beyond the set-up issues, Harrison creates a fun, fast paced story that paranormal lovers are sure to adore. The ending leaves much to be desired as there are a lot of questions left unanswered. However, since this is a series, I’m being  lenient in hopes that answers and action will pick up as the story continues. I will say, however, that I loved the issue of fate vs. free will as it is a debate that I’ve struggled with most my life. I like to believe that life has a little of each in it, which seems to be the direction that Harrison may be taking it. (I believe this may be the reason I liked the book so much.)  All in all, I am definitely looking forward to the next book to see where Madison’s journey will take her.

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