College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when cute Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.
Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn’t the only one…
Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a young man determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first. More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.
Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will appeal to the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Curiosity Quills, in exchange for an honest review, as part of the related blog tour. Thanks a lot for allowing me to take part in it.)
How To Date Dead Guys was a nice read, light enough and even funny in parts, while also more serious in others. The problems Emma ran into, trying to cover up for the several guys she accidentally brought back from the dead, sometimes made me smile. At the same time, the novel also provided interesting (if typical) questions about “what would you do if you had a second chance at coming to terms with something you couldn’t finish before your death?” Every single one of the drowned men left something behind them, something unfinished, whether it concerned themselves, a relative, or a lover; and those stories were all touching in their own ways. I couldn’t help but agree with them, with their choices to “make it right” or at least try to see what had become of their loved ones.
Emma as a protagonist was fine enough: painfully shy at first, but gaining confidence as she grew into her powers and was also forced to come up with lies to hide what she had done—this with a hint of being tempted in the future by this same power she’s acquired. It’s not the main focus of this first installment in the series, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss her desire to keep the Book of Shadows even though it put her in this mess for starters. (First one guy, then another, then three, and all with their own issues? Definitely a mess.) I also liked Jake a lot: infuriating at first, and seemingly a jerk, but one with a heart of gold, who opened Emma’s eyes on more than one thing. He wasn’t even so much a jerk, in fact, than a sociable guy who enjoyed life and took it as it came to get the best out of it, even in death. The outcome of his own predicament was a bit predictable, but cute nonetheless.
And I guess the cuteness factor is one of the things that made me like this book (that, and necromancy—let’s face it, it is necromancy, and I’m always partial to such magic). Even though the novel sometimes bordered on the “too cute”, it was enjoyable. Sure, it might seem cheesy, and yet I just want to say: “So what?” Sometimes we need twee plots and characters. Sometimes we need twee plots and characters. Sometimes I like myself such a book, and considering I had a hard time putting it down for long, I’d say it quite reached its goal.
It’s also light on the romance: there are several men involved, so it stands to logics that Emma wouldn’t get into a relationship with all of them. She’s not immune to their different personalities, their qualities, their quirks, but she manages to remember that nothing can come out of this (them being obviously doomed to become dead again at some point), and in my opinion, such budding relationships, condemned from the beginning, actually helped her grow as a person, going from fickle, almost teenager-like “first attraction” feelings to a deeper understanding of life and love.
On the other hand, I found a couple of things too exaggerated (everyone blaming Emma for Mike’s death was like kicking the proverbial puppy, and Chrissy seemed just so terribly superficial and “me, me, me” that she became tiring—good thing she doesn’t appear much). Moreover, I found the plotline a little too over the place, in that it wove the stories of all those guys, along with Emma’s, Abby’s, Walker’s, and a few others, but didn’t seem to have a really definite plot. The part about the murders came a little too late to my liking, and almost felt like a kind of afterthought, as if the novel suddenly had to be more serious than it had been up until now. There are some hints here and there, but the characters just don’t seem that bothered about them, except perhaps for two (who don’t voice out their suspicions, though, so they’re only proved right later).
I’m giving it 3/3.5 stars “only” because of that, but I’ll still recommend it if you’re looking for a light read that is sometimes fun, sometimes mellow, and sometimes sad.
You can get this book from:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-date-dead-guys-ann-m-noser/1119938862?ean=9781620075197