An ancient, evil organization hunts two undead companions in Santo’s dark fantasy debut.
While driving friends through a mountainous state park in Colorado, 26-year-old Sally Mertill loses control of her car. The crash is fatal to all, including Sally, but her body is thrown free of the burning wreck, and her autopsy at the understaffed Colorado Springs morgue is delayed. Centuries-old Bocnic “Bo” Drewings, who belongs to a clan of powerful undead sorcerers, finds her there and explains that a Wakening ritual, performed by mysterious Powers-That-Be, has returned her to life. For the time being, her body thinks it’s alive and still craves food and sex, although Bo assures her that those urges will stop. Later, after Sally jumps from Bo’s car, he teaches her healing magic. Soon Bo discovers that The Cross—religious militants bent on exterminating supernatural beings—are hunting Sally, and he brings her to a reservation of undead people, where a shaman uncovers an important secret about her. Santo provides excellent descriptions of magic, despite occasional word confusion (“The magic you can weld comes from all around.”). He also brings sexy humor to a genre that sometimes takes itself too seriously; after Bo traps her in golden handcuffs, Sally pulls him in for “a deep kiss with longing written across her lips.” The author delivers compelling atmosphere; during the opening scene, flickering lights are described in a way reminiscent of the 1979 film Alien. Unfortunately, despite its energetic execution, the prose is occasionally prone to grisly word pileups: “Sally tried to think of about something in her recent past to reclaim her own mind from the new residence these memories were trying to take up.”
A fast-paced, if occasionally awkward, fantasy loaded with magical action.