Title: Funeral Pallor
Author: Sean Cummings
Pages: 320, paperback
Genre: urban fantasy
Standalone/Series: Series (Valerie Stevens, #2)
Release: Already out (July 1st 2010)
Publisher: Snowbooks Received for review from author
Author info: http://sean-cummings.caTwitter: @saskatoonauthor
Spoiler Alert: Spoilers for book #1
GoodReads Blurb: There's a nest of rotting husks in an old Calgary warehouse and they've got a hankering for human flesh, but that's the least of Valerie Stevens' problems. While necromancers are a dime a dozen, these mindless killing machines all share one thing in common: they're former occupants of every funeral home in the city.
The evidence points to the zombie Caroline, especially now that she's been experiencing short term memory loss and an inability to account for her whereabouts. If Valerie plans to clear her best friend's name, she'll have to move fast: someone has dispatched a zombie assassin and Caroline's only hope may rest with a pair of middle-aged head-bangers with a few secrets of their own.
In this installation of the Valerie Stevens series, we catch up with Valerie many months after the events in Shade Fright. She is still under the tutelage of the ancient mage/Yoda-like mentor D. T. and still trying to learn about her powers including the “clarity” she apparently glows with before her next encounter with the Conclave. Valerie is still dragging her heels with trying to find a solution to Caroline’s undead situation and has had some bumps in her relationship with mustached dump truck driver Dave. Unfortunately for Valerie, the big baddies of the supernatural community are still interested in her and one evening during the course of her job she gets trapped in a warehouse by a gaggle of flesh-eating zombies. This near-death experience is just the start of wild adventures for Valerie as she tries to get to the bottom of why zombies are loose in Calgary and what her undead friend Caroline might have to do with it.
Funeral Pallor starts out the action pretty quickly with one of the most fearsome (at least for me) supernatural creatures out there – the zombie. And these zombies seem to be working together to get their little piece of flesh like a borg-hive (double shiver) so Valerie needs to get all the help she can get – including the aid of metal loving headbanger brothers, the Newby brothers. The Newby brothers cracked me up with their modified Zombie killing pick-up truck with a snow plow attached and their constant reverence to Valerie as “toots”. Although their headbanging may have dislodged any higher level reasoning skills they do seem to be good at killing zombies and are important to unraveling the mystery of why all these zombies are roaming the streets of Calgary. We also see a lot of Caroline in the installment and the lengths she’s had to take to preserve her zombie form (self-service embalming anyone) though less of the rest of the cast of friends from Shade Fright including Fifty-Dollar Bill, D.T., and Dave. Caroline has been having black-outs that have Valerie worried that Caroline is giving in to her darker zombie nature and while investigating what is going on they delve into conspiracy theories, shady business organizations, and survive a few assassination attempts. We also meet a new character – Tim Reaper – along the way who I hope we get to see in future book installments.
Overall it was a well formed mystery –although I had a good idea who the bad guys worked for I had no idea who the bad guys were till the end – one of my favorite things with a mystery is not guessing the outcome from the beginning. The ending of this book is very sweet too – Valerie’s got quite the man in her life.
3.5 out of 5 stars for me, fearsome zombies and head-banging zombie killers make an interesting mix.
I love all books snarky, sexy, or action-packed! My favorite genres are urban fantasy and paranormal romance though I read a little of everything. Please feel free to contact me at darklyreading (at) gmail (dot) com