Release Date: March 2013
Pages: 247 (Kindle edition)
Author Site: http://hpmallory.com/
My Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Received for review from author
Cover: Not a really big fan. The cover model doesn’t even look like Lily’s description. I do like the book trailer though.
If there’s such a thing as luck, Lily Harper definitely doesn’t have it.
Killed in a car accident before it’s her time to go, Lily learns that the hereafter isn’t exactly what she hoped it might be.
First, there’s AfterLife Enterprises, the company responsible for sorting out the recently dead and sending them on their way to the Kingdom, (aka happily ever after,) or to the Underground City, (not so happily ever after.) Learning that Lily’s death was indirectly their fault (her guardian angel, Bill, was MIA during her accident and was one of their employees,) Afterlife Enterprises offers Lily the chance to live again. But, as with most things involving the afterlife, beware the fine print. Most notably, Lily will have to become a soul retriever, venturing into the bowels of the Underground City to retrieve souls that were mistakenly sent there by Afterlife Enterprises during a Y2K computer glitch.
Second, there’s angel Bill. As if risking her second life in the Underground City wasn’t enough, Lily’s guide to the Underground is none other than her incompetent, alcoholic, womanizing guardian angel, Bill, the antithesis of anything wholesome. With only Dante’s Inferno and Bill to help her in her quest, Lily’s future isn’t looking bright.
Finally, there’s the legendary bladesmith, Tallis Black. As Scottish as his kilts and heavy brogue, Tallis Black is a centuries-old Celt who, for reasons only known to him, offers to train Lily and act as her escort into the depths of the Underground City. Dark, brooding and definitely dangerous, Lily knows she shouldn’t trust Tallis, but she also can’t deny her attraction to him.
Between soul retrieving in hell, dealing with Bill and trying to figure out what’s in it for Tallis, Lily wonders if maybe she would’ve just been better off dead.
Sometimes a book has so much potential that one can overlook the flaws it may have. Better Off Dead started out a little too fast, then came to a ridiculously slow crawl through the middle, but had me wanting more of Lily Harper’s story by the time I got to the end. Go figure! I’m glad I stuck through because I really think this series has a lot of promise and can have some pretty fun and unique things to offer in the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genre!
We don’t learn much of Lily Harper in the beginning other than that she lives a rather ordinary and drab life. She has two best friends – which includes her mother. She is a self-motivator, and by that I mean she is always finding instances in her life to repeat and apply favorite quotes and sayings from inspirational leaders and self-help gurus. She’s also part of a medieval reenactment club that surprisingly comes in handy later on in the story. The reader learns all of this right before she dies in a car accident about 15 pages into the book!!! After Lily dies she finds herself number 3,750,045 in a massive waiting room where it’s determined that there’s been a mistake and Lily has died before her time. Technically it was Lily’s fault for being on the phone while driving (distracted driving is dangerous) but the bigger picture is that her guardian angel, a forgetful alcoholic guardian angel, wasn’t there for Lily when he needed to be. This is where the concept of the Kingdom, the Shade, and the Underground City are first introduced, all pretty self-explanatory I think. Lily is offered a job as a Retriever as restitution where if she collects and relocates ten souls she can bypass Shade and go directly to the Kingdom. It’s kind of like passing ‘GO’ in Monopoly, collecting the $200 and hitting Park Place all in one roll!
I really love the entire concept of the storyline. AfterLife Enterprises sort of reminded me of a modernized Beetlejuice when Barbara and Adam first go to meet their case worker Juno. I don’t want to go any more into the introductory part of Lily’s new life because to be honest it’s a lot of fun. I just felt that the beginning was a little rushed. I don’t know if that was supposed to be a part of the story (lay Lily’s options out in front of her super-duper quickly and tell her she has .5 seconds to choose certain details without really thinking anything through)… or if the author was just really excited to get the story going. *shrugs* I suppose Neo didn’t get much time to think things over when Morpheus offered him the choice between the red and blue pill either….so I get it.
Lily’s guardian angel, alcoholic Bill, is a character I came to hate (very quickly) and love (I couldn’t believe it!) His crude and ridiculous comments soon had me laughing and became a true delight throughout the book. Maybe it’s my weird sense of humor but I liked the rude little man. Tallis Black grew on me too, I admit. He didn’t seem like my cup o’ tea to be honest. He’s very dark, standoffish, and his Scottish brogue was so heavy I found myself reading a loud with an accent even if I didn’t want to. It was honestly a bit distracting. But again, towards the end of the book Tallis became this hott alpha male that I seriously didn’t mind so much. I could learn to deal with that brogue of his!
While I could somewhat relate to Lily I couldn’t quite come to like her…even by the end of the story. Even now I can’t recall any great qualities I found in her and I find myself thinking more of Bill and Tallis.
I wasn’t a big fan of Lily getting an entire new body makeover when she decided to take the job with Afterlife Enterprises. Can a tall, dark, and handsome supernatural bladesmith not fall for a boring, plain-Jane heroine?…I guess not. And while I respected and admired her self-motivated pep talk she just it became repetitive and slightly annoying.
So the pacing goes from lightning speed to super slow crawl. I understand that the first books in a series needs to have a good portion of the book dedicated to background information, world introduction, etc. But I honestly didn’t feel like I got a lot of that while in the forest with the trio of characters. And honestly we were in the forest for a ridiculously long time. I wanted more of Lily before death and less dilly-dallying in the forest on her first mission. But with a climactic ending I came away pretty satisfied. I also came away wanting more of this world. I’ve became super curious of H.P. Mallory’s other two series as well so I’m excited to get started and eager to read what happens in the second book of The Lily Harper series.