Review From User :
All right, kids. We know the drill. We know I am a huge R. Lee Smith fangirl (a self proclaimed Ganngirl). We know I've read all her books at least four times. I'm a nerd like that. So I devoured this one over the weekend and I'm still processing.
STILL PROCESSING. I HAVE LOTS OF FEELS. ALL GOOD ONES, BUT MY BRAIN IS PROCESSING.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room, okay That cover. Sweet baby jeebus, but that's an awful cover. I know the author said she loves it and worked hard with her publisher to get just the right cover. And I am here to tell you AS YOUR BIGGEST FAN that this cover is a big Nope. This is not good. It's not even close to good. So I made myself new covers to read the book. I made this one first.
And then after I read the book, I made this one.
This shit is bananas. OF COURSE IT IS. It's R Lee Smith. Bananas goes without saying.
GUYS. GUYS. THIS BOOK IS BEING MARKETED AS ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. IT'S NOT. DON'T BE SCARED. IT'S A FAIRY TALE! Like, Beauty and the Beast or Hades and Persephone type fairy tale. And you guys KNOW I love that shit. To me, the zombies are like...well, they're like the chocolate in a York Peppermint Patty. It's got chocolate on it and we all love some chocolate, but the focus is the MINT dammit. That's this book. The fairy tale is the mint, and the zombies are the chocolate. IT'S OKAY.
So the story. Lan is a hard-edged girl who's mom died (zombies!) and so she travels to the lair of the zombie king to ask him to stop making zombies. She figures he'll kill her ass, but she doesn't care anymore. She has to try. Instead, they bicker and he's intrigued by her and she becomes one of his 'dollygirls' (aka courtesans). She lives in his city of the dead, Haven, and like, loads of shit happens.
One of the cool things about an R Lee Smith book is that when you close it, you think, holy crap, we've come so far in this story! You look at where the heroine started out, and by the end, there's just been this massive, epic quest. It's awesome. I love that.
Also, I love that there's this real thinky meta plot to the whole thing. Like in GANN, the meta plot was "An Atheist and a Zealot meet, and what if neither of them are wrong" In this book, I felt like it was "A bad guy meets a victim...and neither one is wrong!" again. The author really makes you think about grey areas and blurred lines.
Rather than recap shit, because DAMN there's a ton of shit to recap, I thought I'd hit the high points everyone is asking about.
LOVE METER: Aka did I love it. YES. But it's not the slobbering crazy-eyed love I have for Gann. It's probably my next favorite (and the most romancey) out of Smith's books. But nothing can replace Gann, kids. NOTHING.
RAPENING METER: Zero! There's an unenthusiastic hand-job (spoiler) to the not-hero but it's not non-consensual She's more perplexed by the guy's reaction than grossed out.
HAPPY ENDING METER: Yes!! I mean, not gonna lie, I was crying ALL THE DAMN TEARS at the end but it's totally worth it. DO NOT FEAR, MY ROMANCE LOVERS. IT'S OKAY. IT'S SO GOOD.
MEORAQ METER: AKA how hot is the hero and will I fall in love with his ass. He's not hot (This is R Lee Smith) but you still love his ass to death and want him to be happy with the heroine. He's actually kind of a sad panda because he's seen as this horrible horrible villain and as you get to know the hero through the story, you realize he's not...wrong in all his actions. I mean, does he react badly Oh hell, yes. Does he murder the fuck out of people You bet. But you get it It's hard to describe. JUST READ IT ALREADY.
VIOLENCE METER: God yes. Lots of violence. Some torture. Heroine gets stomped at one point (hey, it's R Lee Smith). Hero's a badass mofo. But you love him for it and you want him to have a shmoopy happy ending with the heroine.
HEROINE METER: She's not as hard edged as Amber, but she's definitely got the whole 'martyr for my people' thing going on. If this bothers you, this might not be your book. OTOH, I thought she was a lot...funnier Than Amber. I really liked her. And she's not afraid to admit she's wrong when she fucks up. And oh, does she fuck up.
SHOULD YOU READ IT METER: Fuck yes, son. Get your ass to Kindle Unlimited. (or buy a copy because you know you're gonna read this shit again. I totally am.)
There’s no safety in numbers . . .
Eve Singer needs death. With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, she’ll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience.
The killer needs death too. He even advertises his macabre public performances, where he hopes to show the whole world the beauty of dying.
When he contacts Eve, she welcomes the chance to be first with the news from every gory scene. Until she realizes that the killer has two obsessions.
One is public murder.
And the other one is her . . .