Three Days to Dead (Kelly Meding, Dreg City #1)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Three Days to Dead is a conventional urban fantasy monster hunting adventure with a strong female protagonist. This is the first in a series. There are some supernatural romance elements, but the majority of the story focuses on overcoming supernatural challenges rather than amorous ones, so I would definitely call this urban fantasy rather than supernatural romance. The pacing is good, the story doesn’t drag anywhere in particular, and the characters are decent. The protagonist has some strange issues that aren’t immediately addressed when you would think they would be, but this is actually an intentional story element rather than an oversight (I think). The setting is original and interesting, but sadly, the whole experience of the book is somewhat tainted to me by the fact that yet again the antagonist’s plan is tortuously complicated when there is no reason for it to be and doesn’t entirely make sense. Still, I would recommend this book, largely because I found it enjoyable to read, and despite its issues it is still superior to most urban fantasy offerings.

Greater Detail:
Evangeline Stone’s life revolves around hunting supernatural threats with her team. She is quite alarmed when she suddenly wakes up on a slab inhabiting someone else’s body with her recent past inaccessible as memory. To save herself, she must find out what happened to her and why.

I may be alone in this, but when a story I have been enjoying turns out to have a plot that doesn’t really make sense, it leaves me profoundly disappointed. I feel robbed of an expected pleasant experience of the revelations of a good plot and resentful that the author didn’t bother to think through their own book. It’s like if you were about to open a much-anticipated present and then, at the last moment, as you reached for it with hands trembling in excitement, someone replaced your present with a rabid feral badger which snarls at you and bites at your fingers. Sadly, this book left me with something of the angry badger feeling. It wasn’t so much that the contrived plot that the author came up with was horrible, it’s just that it really didn’t make much sense, and there were several easier ways that anyone actually making plans would have had to have discarded in favor of the hare-brained scheme that the plot rests on.

It really is a shame, though, because the rest of the book, sans plot holes, is quite good. The protagonist is put in a variety of novel situations that were interesting to imagine, the supernatural elements were fairly original and varied, and there was just enough action to keep things moving without turning into a gratuitous slug fest. I was genuinely invested in the characters for most of the book, and was genuinely interested in the story the entire way.

Even the treatment of this book as the first in a series was good. I didn’t feel like there were any egregious added elements to pave the way for future books, and there didn’t seem to be any elements held back for fodder, either. I was a bit surprised to find out this was part of a series, because it worked so well as a stand alone.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
I’m not sure why exactly poor planning and contrived plots are such a common theme in urban fantasy, but maybe as the genre matures we’ll see less of it. With fewer touchy-feely elements and a lot more testosterone, this somehow reminded me a bit of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, starting with Sandman Slim.

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