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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Vengeful Dead by J. N. Duncan

The Vengeful Dead J.N. Duncan The Vengeful Dead by J. N. Duncan

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Trade paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: October 1, 2011

Series: Deadworld #2

Source: Review copy from Kensington

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

She’s the FBI’s go-to expert on Chicago’s most brutal supernatural crimes. But a bloodthirsty, revenge-crazed killer is using her deepest fears as a terrifying weapon…

Jackie Rutledge just can’t put her past to rest. Her Bureau partner is dead, but not gone. And her sanity is becoming as fragile as her career. Worst of all, a wrenching journey into Deadworld has given her unwanted new abilities—and exhuming memories she hoped to keep buried …

Now a merciless force capable of possessing humans is on a killing spree, destroying the guilty and innocent alike. It isn’t long before Jackie is a prime suspect, struggling to stay two steps ahead of her savvy new partner, and her undead P.I. and paramour, Nick. But to clear her name, she’ll have to take on her greatest challenge yet: confronting an inner darkness as inescapable as the one she hunts—and capable of annihilating more than her soul…

I have to confess: I had a very lukewarm reaction to DEADWORLD, the first book in the series. I loved the world building and the main plot line but I really didn't like Jackie, the main character. And it's hard to love a book when you have negative feelings towards the protagonist. (In case you didn't click on the link, my problem with Jackie was basically that she was way too self-destructive and I found it difficult to relate to her.)

My reaction to THE VENGEFUL DEAD? Much more positive! In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment in the Deadworld series. J. N. Duncan's kept all of the elements I enjoyed from the first novel and we get to see Jackie grow as a character. As the author pointed out in the comments on my post on DEADWORLD, the novel does take place over a short time period, making it difficult to see a lot of growth or change. This time, though, the book is a little more spaced out in terms of the time frame and it means we get to see Jackie working on herself and her issues and taking steps in the right direction. Yay!

I also appreciated how much deeper we go into Deadworld this time around, since the main focus of THE VENGEFUL DEAD is just what you'd expect from the title: a ghost on a mission to kill the people who murdered her and her unborn baby. This ghost is incredibly powerful and trying to stop her forces Jackie to use her new powers (the result of her trip to Deadworld in the first novel) even though she'd much rather hide. It was really neat to see Nick and Shelby take on a mentoring role with Jackie and her powers because it added an extra layer to her relationships wth both characters.

And speaking of relationships, it's nice to see Jackie and Nick making some progress, or at least thinking about making progress with their romance. The nature of their relationship isn't central to THE VENGEFUL DEAD but it is a nice barometer for where Jackie is in terms of her headspace and her attitudes to the world around her.

All in all, I was really impressed with THE VENGEFUL DEAD. I may have been on the fence with DEADWORLD but J. N. Duncan's won me over with this story and now I can't wait to start reading THE LINGERING DEAD!

Read an excerpt


Born and raised in the Toronto area, Jenn moved to St. John's, Newfoundland, eight years ago for school. She's still in school (thankfully on another degree!), now trapped in her dissertation. When she's not dissertating, which happens more often than it should, Jenn spends her time reading, watching movies, playing volleyball, travelling, and enjoying the local music scene. Her latest addictions: yoga and Almond Crunch cereal.

10 People left their mark' :

  1. I'm reading Deadworld right now and I really despise Jackie, so much so that I am just slogging through it. I do like Nick and Shelby so that is what keeps me reading. It's good to hear that you liked the sequel. Maybe the first book suffers from FBIS (First book in series) syndrome.

    1. I had a lot of difficulty getting through DEADWORLD because I didn't like Jackie but I really did enjoy THE VENGEFUL DEAD. It's worth slogging through to get to the next novel, if only for more Nick and Shelby. :)

      If you want even more Nick and Shelby, you can also check out the short story J. N. Duncan wrote for our Paranormal April Fools' event.

  2. I hadn't heard of these books. They sound interesting and I enjoyed the excerpt of The Vengeful Dead. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Great review, Jenn! I've seen these books around, but never got around to reading them. It seems like this second book reached a lot more depth in addition to things from the first book....intriguing...

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

    1. Thanks, Vivian! I hope you'll enjoy them if you start reading them. Don't get me wrong -- DEADWORLD is a solidly written book. There's a lot of great world building and excellent secondary characters in it but Jackie really grew on me in THE VENGEFUL DEAD. =)

  4. wow It's nice your feelings improved with this book, it's always a little difficult. I haven't read any but I confess I'm now curious to start it. I hope it will be the same with the sequel. great review!

  5. Great review, I have added the series to my wishlist.

  6. Well, if the first book was that hard to get through, I might give this series a miss. There's so many awesome books out there!

  7. Late noticing this was even here, dangit. Thanks for the review, Jenn! I'm glad you liked book two. Deadworld was a challenge to write from a character standpoint, taking a person with a such a damaged personality right from the get-go and having them grow from that point. Change is slow in real life, and having that play out in any kind of realistic fashion in the confines of a story where that's only one of the elements, is difficult to say the least. But like you said, I think/hope that Jackie grows on you over time. That said, I know some readers have had a hard time with Jackie, and it may not be right for them. That's cool with me. I can't write for everyone. All one can do is put out the story one wants to tell and hope others will like to go along for the ride. I hope you enjoy Lingering Dead even more! :)