Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin

My instincts were right with this one. All year I've been showcasing urban fantasies without much interest in reading any of them (well, except for Jim Butcher, but he's hardly a debut author). Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin stood out from the bunch right from the start. For me,  it was a great and long-overdue introduction to the urban fantasy genre.

Rardin invented a great deal of vampire mythology, but she saw fit to keep all the traditional aspects as well. One can fend a vampire off with a cross, and holy water will cause even the most deadly vampire to back off. And see all those tiny stakes in an ammo belt on the cover girl's hip? Well, she's got a nifty gun to go with them. Poof. Another vampire up in smoke. And she's got lots more gadgets, too, several that I can readily envision on the silver screen with computer generated imagery.

But the vampires are not all bad guys. Vayl--short for Vasil--is one of the good guys, even though he's an assassin. Jaz is his assistant. Their assignment is to take out a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructing the faces of terrorists. Turns out this plastic surgeon has connections. And compared to his bosses, he's strictly small-time.

The pace is quick; the dialogue is snappy and the action is high. And just when you think you know where the plot is going, it takes a twist that you never would expect. The last battle has a lot of great how-can-they-possibly-win moments. However, one complaint I have is that except for a brief aside, the story ended rather too abruptly after the final battle. I wanted more! Jaz and Vayl were supposed to discuss all this stuff on the trip home! Now I have to read the next book to find out what they discussed.

Oh, yeah. Right. That's the whole idea.

Something unique--after the ending of the novel, there's a brief interview between Jennifer Rardin and her character, Jaz Parks. And it leads right into an excerpt from the second book, Another One Bites the Dust. Very clever. I wonder if this keeps up in the subsequent books.

In case you haven't caught on by now, this novel's a lot of fun. It has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some bittersweet moments. The vampire-human sex scene that I feared never occurred (thank God). I'd love to see it come out in mass-market paperback as a boxed set.

Amazon Links: (US, UK, Canada)
Jennifer Rardin's website, myspace, facebook
My interview with Jennifer
My original debut showcase
Review part one: Opening Chapters
Review part two: Piling on the Problems 


SciFiGuy said...

So happy you found this series and are edging into urban fantasy. I read the 4th book in the series Bitten to Death last month and they just keep getting better. Great review.

Kristen said...

I don't normally read vampire books but this sounds like fun so I think I'll try it at some point. Thanks for the review!

Mulluane said...

Oh no you don't! Genesis of Shannara is as close to Urban Fantasy as I'm getting!

Nice try though.....

Tia Nevitt said...

Scifiguy--not so fast! I'm not sure I'm an urban fantasy convert yet! I have another one that I've started (Matters of the Blood), so we'll see how it goes. It seems to have Fey, rather than Fangs or Fur, so it might be more to my taste.

Kristen, I'm usually with you. Vampires just aren't my thing. But this one looked fun enough to make an exception.

Mulluane, I wouldn't dream of trying to convert you!