Review: Pretty When She Kills by Rhiannon Frater

Pretty When She Kills
Rhiannon Frater

Released September 12, 2012
278 pages
Horror / Vampires / Zombies

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Amaliya Vezorak never believed in happy endings…

When Amaliya harnessed her necromancer powers to defeat her greatest enemy, she believed she had finally found a happy ending with Cian, her lover and the master of Austin. That happiness is short-lived when the vampire ruling over San Antonio attempts a takeover of Austin in order to capture Amaliya and use her power for his own devices.

To make matters worse, Samantha, Cian’s ex-fiancée, is seeing ghosts, the untested vampire hunters of Austin are running scared as a supernatural war looms, a mysterious man is hunting Amaliya with the help of her one time lover, Pete, and Rachoń, the Summoner’s favorite progeny, appears to be out for revenge.

When Amaliya’s grandmother, a powerful medium, experiences terrible visions that reveal there is another necromancer vampire and she is crying out for help, Amaliya realizes happy endings do not come easily…

I failed in my blogging duty last week. I was supposed to have a review of this along with our short Q&A with Rhiannon Frater posted on Friday, but between work commitments and family things, I got way behind on things and didn’t finish the second book in the series in time. So instead you get this review today, three days late. Hopefully Rhiannon won’t mind. Here is my review of Pretty When She Dies, the first in the series, and here’s the interview for your reading enjoyment.

Warning: Spoilers for Pretty When She Dies coming up

The most surprising thing about the second volume in this series is the amount of time spent away from our key main characters of Amaliya and Cian. After Amaliya vanquished their maniacal creator, The Summoner, at the end of the previous book, she and her vampire boyfriend had become targets from just about every baddie introduced in the previous book and a few that had only been alluded to. Despite all the events in Pretty When She Kills revolving around Amaliya and her necromantic powers, a large portion of the story takes place far away from her, utilizing the large cast of supporting characters that Frater had already created and adding a handful of new ones for good measure.  And of course there were plenty of zombies wandering around by the end.

Despite the lack of action involving Amaliya and Cian, I found Pretty When She Kills as entertaining and interesting as its predecessor. By pairing up Samantha with Jeff the entire book, she becomes a solid character who is more than just a silly girl stereotype. Add in that she can corporealize ghosts and control them, and Sam becomes not only a heavily useful character, but also one that can temporarily fill in Amaliya’s shoes, though only after bedazzling them first.

The new cast members bring in witches with various forms of power, a half human/half vampire hybrid, some new humans, and a supernatural bounty hunter. Most of the new characters fit a very specific purpose and then get pushed aside for the rest of the story to take place with the characters we’re already more familiar with. I see the witches becoming a bigger component of the third and final book, but I wish that in this book, they could have been utilized a little more than what they were. It seemed a waste of potential to have a witch just to create a portal, only to be sidelined for the big battle.

A large portion of the plot heavily relies on hope and love blinding people to reality, thus putting themselves into mortal peril with varying results. For a group of people who, for the most part, have some sort of supernatural ability, they aren’t all that great at planning or taking into consideration that perhaps the big bad might not do exactly what they said they would. I can buy that someone unfamiliar with the vampire world such as Pete could buy the dreams being sold to him by the mysterious Ethan, but I found it a bit troubling that Innocente – the sweet, fierce grandmother who talks to ghosts – and Sergio, who doesn’t have supernatural abilities but fights with the best of them, would agree to readily follow Ethan’s lead into inevitable danger.

But despite the lack of screen time for the badass vampires, the final confrontations and the twisty turns that came along with it made the introduction of so many new characters and new superpowers relevant and worth it. For a while I didn’t think all the little plot threads would pull together and details that had emphasis placed on them would be conveniently forgotten. I should give Frater more credit than that though. Even small things like a lack of ghosts in a particular area found an explanation through the final battle and wrap up of the main plot points. While there isn’t a solid resolution – more like a delay-the-inevitable sort of situation – Frater sets up for an explosive volume three in this fascinating series and I look forward to how she utilizes all the fantastic characters she’s created in this crazy supernatural vampires-meet-zombies version of Austin.