I really liked these books, and I am bit sad to see them end. At the same time, I’m glad that Ms. Hallaway quit when she did, instead of sacrificing good storytelling to the great god of sequel sales (nudge, nudge, Charlaine Harris).
Speaking of Charlaine Harris, I probably wouldn’t have discovered these books had I not read – and mostly loved – the Southern Vampire Mysteries series (AKA the books behind the solidly awesome HBO series True Blood).
After finishing what may be the last palatable book in the SVM series (Dead and Gone) I was very sad and longing for a paranormal mystery with a dash of romance to soothe me.
Fortune, it seemed, smiled upon me and I stumbled upon the first book in this series – Tall, Dark and Dead. I immediately liked Garnet – with her spiky, dyed black hair and gothic fashion sensibilities. Under the spooky facade, Garnet is real witch, who is also a Wiccan (yes, Darlings, there is a difference) with a New Age-y leftist bent. Add a vampire boyfriend and some wacky magical shenanigans and I was totally hooked for the first 4 books.
These books also feature some of my favorite book covers in the history of cartoon-style book covers. Its unknown if I would have loved the books quite as much as I did were it not for these whimsical portrayals of the witchy Miss Lacey and her feline friend. The dead-themed titles didn’t hurt either.
The mysteries and romantic entanglements may be a little formulaic and predicable, but they are still solidly fun and engaging. More than anything, I liked the humorous and snarky way Garnet balances the demands of being possessed by the Goddess Lilith, falling in love with a sexy vampire and managing an occult bookstore – all while living in a cute vintage apartment in a quirky neighborhood of a small Midwestern city.
In essence, these books are your standard issue fluffy chick-lit focusing on a sexy independent single girl – with a darkly paranormal twist.
Dead Sexy and Romancing the Dead continued Garnet’s magical sleuthing and adventurous romance with daywalking vampire Sebastian Von Traum.
My amusement began to wear thin with the fourth installment, Dead if I Do. I was disappointed that Garnet moved out of her adorable apartment and started settling down into a serious life with her vampire lover, his zombie ex-wife and sullen half-vampire son. But, I had invested in Garnet and even married, she was sure to still be funny and prone to disasters of the supernatural variety. And she was.
But after finishing reading Dead if I Do, a few things happened that may have impacted how I felt about Honeymoon of the Dead. The first is that I read Richelle Mead’s series about another bookstore employee with supernatural powers. Richelle Mead’s Succubus series is funny and sexy and dark and tragic – and pretty much all around one of the best paranormal series in all of creation.
If that wasn’t enough to overcome, I also stared reading the personal blog of author Tate Hallaway.
Having learned more that I probably should about the author’s personal life, Honeymoon of the Dead seems distractingly overburdened with thinly veiled personal references and shout-outs to her hometown of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. In fact, parts of the book reads like chamber of commerce propaganda for the Twin Cities. Maybe a lot of authors do this, and I don’t know enough about their personal lives to identify and be distracted by it.
However, I also read the personal blog of Richelle Mead, and know all kinds of trivia about her life, but I’m never distracted by self-referential commentary in her novels. So, who knows? In any event, its probably not fair to compare mere mortals to book-goddess Richelle Mead anyway.
Once I was able to get past the shout-outs and I did enjoy the book and was happy with how Garnet’s story ended. However, I cannot get past the horror that is the cover art. I don’t know where this cover came from, but I wish it would go back.
While the series may have gone on a little longer than it needed to, it was fun and entertaining throughout. I think I will miss Garnet, but I am reassured to hear that Tate Hallaway has expanded into YA fiction and has a series of vampire themed books set in – where else – Minneapolis/St. Paul. I can’t resist a YA book, as well you know, so you can expect to hear more about Almost to Die For soon!