Katie's Pick: The Wicked and the Dead by Melissa Marr
There’s no other city quite like New Orleans, full of dark mystery and intrigue. It’s no surprise that Melissa Marr chose our great city as the backdrop for her newest adult urban fantasy series, Faery Bargains. In the first installment, titled The Wicked and the Dead, we meet Geneviève Crowe, a Jewish-Wiccan woman who makes sure the dead stay dead. Set in the distant future, the world is plagued by draugr, undead creatures from Scandinavian folklore (think zombie and vampire wrapped up into one). These draugr shamble around, much like zombies for the first century of their after-life. It’s only after 100 years they become sentient. Since many people don’t want their loved ones to turn into blood-thirsty monsters, Geneviève takes the not so legal job of beheading these monsters to ensure they don’t harm the living. But lately, her magic’s been off, and to make matters worse, wealthy businessmen have been turning up undead.
To help with her magic, Gen seeks out her most powerful ally, Eli Stonecroft, a faery in exile who owns the bar Gen frequents. Gen has mixed romantic feelings about Eli, as he’s her only friend that knows of her supernatural mixed heritage. It’s at his bar that Gen meets her strangest client yet; Beatrice, the self-proclaimed queen of the draugr. The queen, along with one of the sons of the recently deceased businessmen, hire Gen to figure out why wealthy businessmen are being murdered and turned into draugr. Gen, along with Eli, begin to uncover the causes of her magic gone awry and the mystery of the murdered men. After taking the job, Gen realizes that neither her heart nor her life is safe as she tries to juggle her feelings toward Eli, her increasing magic affinity for the dead, and the uptick in people rising again as draugr.
I absolutely loved this novel. Geneviève Crowe is a fascinating character. She’s a witch of mixed supernatural heritage with an affinity for the dead. Plus, she’s one kick-butt heroine. Although she portrays herself as hard and unfeeling, there’s a certain charming vulnerability to her once she opens up to her friend, Eli. I especially loved the tension between Gen and Eli—sometimes she wants to kill him and others, she has to do everything in her power not to fall helplessly into his arms. The story was compelling and fresh as well. Prior to Faery Bargains: Book 1: The Wicked and the Dead, I had not encountered such creatures as the Scandinavian draugr. Melissa Marr does a brilliant job of weaving obscure folklore into a modern story. If you enjoyed Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, you’ll enjoy Melissa Marr’s Faery Bargains: Book 1: The Wicked and the Dead.
Availability: Book; eBook in cloudLibrary Rating: ***** Stars (I loved it) Reviewer: Katie, Reference Librarian