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Customer Review

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper, 5 July 2009
This review is from: Once Dead, Twice Shy (Madison Avery, Book 1) (Hardcover)
'My name is Madison Avery. And I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch'.

Madison is dead. After she leaves her school prom with a mysterious guy she ends up in a car crash. She manages to survive this event but is unfortunate in that she's struck down by said guy's magic sword -- now Madison is walking around seemingly alive; but not alive. Confused? All this is chronicled in the Prom Nights From Hell anthology, where Kim Harrison wrote the short story of Madison's prom. You don't need to have read this short story to understand Once Dead, Twice Shy but it certainly would help matters. This book picks up a month or so later during the summer holidays where Madison is being taught metaphysical skills by her long suffering mentor Barnabas. People can still see Madison and she goes on with her life as normal, all the while actually being dead. Heh. It sounds much weirder than it is!

As well as being dead (only not) Madison is a 17 year old hormonal teenager with a bad attitude and purple hair. Harrison excels at characterisation and I was not disappointed here. I really liked Madison's voice and thought her interactions with Barnabas (her light reaper guide) were quite funny. Barnabas is a mysterious character. He's somewhat grumpy and serious, not to mention a little tactless with people's feelings -- which amused me.

This book is very much a short introduction into Madison's world of dark wings, time keepers and reapers. It was nice to read a book that isn't chock full of vampires; it gave the Madisonverse a fresher feel. There are some interesting themes going on here as well -- the nature of fate and free will. It's a positive thing that Harrison was able to broach these issues in a book for teenagers.

This series is for young adults and it's written quite differently to Harrison's Rachel Morgan series which is aimed at adults. Aside from the parents and the paranormal characters, all the characters are teenagers or look like them (Barnabas). I don't read young adult novels EVER so I have no idea what they're like -- I'm 22 and I enjoyed this book, I didn't really think it was too young for me. The love/relationship stuff is quite young feeling but that's not what I read fantasy books for -- I'm all about the story and the characters, so that was neither here nor there. Also, a lot of Madison's issues are relatable: that basic idea of fitting in and loneliness etc. I thought one of the best things about 'Once Dead, Twice Shy' was the high school setting converging on the paranormal angelic stuff. It resulted in an interesting mix of themes. The book was pretty short, and mainly focused on setting up the various aspects of the series. It only got to the really good stuff in the final chapter, but with Harrison she builds marvelous story over many books so I didn't mind this at all. The final chapter gives a very clear indication of where this series is headed... and it looks to be quite a ride!

All in all, highly recommended for teenagers and adults. I'll definitely be reading the next book!
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