Thursday, January 7, 2010

CBRII: Undead and Unworthy by MaryJanice Davidson

Undead and Unworthy is the seventh book in a series about Betsy, the incredibly reluctant queen of the vampires.  It's also a marked turn-around in the nature of the series.

The basic premise of the series is this: On her 30th birthday, blonde, six-foot, ex-model Elizabeth Taylor (Betsy) is run over by a truck.  She wakes up a few days later as a vampire.  Not just any Vampire, however, she's the Queen, as prophesised in the book of the Dead, some sort of Vampire bible.  Which is, of course, written in blood by an insane Vampire and bound by human skin.  As part of the prophesy, the first man she has sex with after becoming a vampire is her Consort, the king who will rule at her side for a thousand years.  That king is Eric Sinclair, who *sigh* is tall, dark, incredibly good-looking, hung like a plow-horse and intelligently snobby. 

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the role of Mr Darcy will be played by a guy with fangs.

In the previous six books, Betsy discovered a half-sister who also happened to be the devil's daughter, saw dead people, met a bunch of werewolves, and her dad and hated stepmother died, leaving her the sole guardian of their baby son.  And, of course, after much yelling, she and Sinclair got married.

The previous books (which started with Undead and Unmarried, need I say more?) were the kind of popcorn flavoured fluff I was a little embarrassed to admit I liked.  I'd end up saying stuff like 'yeah, she's a vacuous, shoe-loving twit, but she knows it, and she's all scathing and mocking about vampire conventions!  Really!'

But in Unworthy, all those little things that irritated me come back to bite Betsy.  Hard.  People she cares for die, and that plural is not a typo.  It's difficult to describe the plot without giving away the plots of previous stories, but I'll do my best.  The stereotypically evil vampire Betsy defeated in the first book, Nostro (Betsy, during their first meeting, called him 'Nostril' and bitched about his cliched clothing choices.  This is why I stuck with these books for so long) was a fan of the same kind of experimentation as Nazi scientists.  He changed a bunch of people into vampires, then didn't feed them.  They went feral, happily ate animal blood, ran around on all fours, and disembowled anybody they came across.  All that fun stuff.  Betsy, despite managing to 'humanise' one of them, didn't think about the rest of them, regarding them like badly trained, undead puppies.  In Unworthy, they get their minds back and vow revenge.  Since Nostro's dead, they decide to target Betsy.

If the series continues along this path, I'm not going to be so sheepish about recommending it.   Davidson has been smart enough to recognise that the amusement of such an unlikely 'Queen' isn't enough to sustain the series forever, and that, no matter how hardcore her husband, any ruler who doesn't grow a brain and a pair of balls won't rule for long.  

I'd always put the Undead books into a similar category as a good romance novel.  Entertaining, but ultimately, forgetable.  Undead and Unworthy is not so forgetable, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Davidson is going to take Betsy (and us) next.


  1. never even heard of these. but i think i may find the 1st one and work my way through them.

    awesome review!

  2. They're good fun, especially when they're mocking vampires. Why yes, it's a vampire love story, but Sinclair would rather bite his own eyes out than sparkle, and Betsy will call him asshat long before she calls him perfect.

    And thanks! Which reminds me, I must facebook friend you now, since you've decided you're too good for blogging. ;)