Nancy Holzner,
(Ace, 2009)

Victory Vaughn is a demi-human, active. This bureaucratese translates to a shapeshifter, who also fights demons, or a Ceriddorian, who is literally a Welsh descendent of the goddess Ceridwen. All this classification became necessary after the Plague hit Boston three years ago and turned many of the residents into zombies who now inhabit a space called Deadtown. Of course, the demi-humans: vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters like Vicky are also now under regulation and struggling for rights.

Vicky's just doing her job exorcising a drude (dream demon) from a client when she feels some serious evil. The next day she learns the client was murdered after she left, boiled from the inside out. It's her worst fear, someone's let loose a Hellion -- the type of demon who started the zombie plague in the first place -- on Boston ... and this particular Hellion and she have a score to settle since Difethwer the Destroyer killed her father and left a demon mark on Victory that she's fought a lifetime to keep in control.

This demon infestation could not come at a worse time. One of the primary issues in the upcoming election for Massachusetts's governor is demi-human rights and the human candidate, Seth Baldwin, is going to be all over the Hellion's appearance -- if the demon doesn't destroy the city.

And that's not all Victory's got to deal with. Tina, a young zombie, has appointed herself Victory's apprentice and is causing her more grief than good. The case has brought Costello, a handsome human detective, into her life who is in competition with her current lover, werewolf lawyer and activist Kane. Add to all of that, Gwen, her demi-human inactive sister, is ashamed of her heritage. which causes family issues.

Deadtown is the sophomore novel by English Ph.D. Nancy Holzner. All those years of voracious reading definitely paid off for this author. She's created an engaging character and a fantasy world that blends many common urban fantasy elements in a different manner.

For the most part, the novel is a an interesting and diverting read. Holzner puts a lot of balls into the air, but manages to keep the threads running clearly enough that an attentive reader can pick them up easily enough. I noticed a couple of slips, including describing Victory by having her see herself in a mirror. This is not a major no-no, but one most novelists do try to avoid.

One personal gripe on the part of this reviewer is the author's description of character Frank Lucado's glass eye. Unless Frank's ocular prosthetic is quite old, the science of creating artificial eyes has grown so much that most are virtually indistinguishable from the wearer's real seeing eye.

review by
Becky Kyle

3 April 2010

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