June 24, 2011

Review: Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay

Dead on the Delta
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 1439189862
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review

For more information please visit Stacey Jay's website.
Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dreams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death. Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.

But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a six year-old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her.

Dead on the Delta, the first novel in the Anabelle series by Stacey Jay, is not your average Urban Fantasy, nor does it follow your average heroine. Wildly original and wonderfully developed with a character who has more quirks that virtues, this novel is a fast paced, quick read that is hard to put down. So, if you're tired of the usual 'goody-two shoes' act, Annabelle Lee is a perfect fit as a shameless under achiever with borderline addictive personality.

From the beginning of this novel, the setting is what really struck me. Instantly, you step in to the hot, humid swamps where the air is more moisture then oxygen. The overbearing heat is only matched by the fairy infestation that seems to have taken the place of the clouds of mosquitoes that typically swarm in these marshy locales creating a sense of dread where ever they flit. There was also a great atmosphere built in which there is a very down trodden feeling creating a landscape of the South that is more of a refugee camp then a Parish after the invasion of the mutated fey. The amount of dread that these shimmery creatures leave in their wake is palpable making for an interesting new take on the fey.

The world building was wonderful, with a unique development that was perfectly thought out creating a three dimensional and believable world in which the characters move around. There is ample history to illustrate how the modern world was altered and how the fey came in to being. I also loved the amount of damage these little blighters were capable of causing, altering the landscape of the South to one that is barely recognizable. In fact, there is an unbelievable amount of deterioration in both the social and economic structure in this region and I really loved seeing this so masterfully explored. Also, the different organizations that watch and research the fairy problem, as well as the various entities who police issues tied to the fey, were quite interesting to see developed.

The characters were also quite unique and interesting, a very definite change from what one would normally expect. In fact, Anabelle, the heroine of the story, was unlike anything that I had ever read in the past. She's unashamed of her status as an underachiever, somewhat coarse, and a borderline alcoholic. Of course, with what she is forced to endure because of her status as being immune to the venomous bites of the fey, it's a bit understandable why it is she chooses oblivion over reality with what she is often called in to do for law enforcement. But, at times, I did find her personality to be a bit trying, if not down right repugnant. Truly, I wondered how in the world this woman could be endearing enough to carry a story by herself because she is such a train wreck, utterly unwilling to better herself. However, this was somewhat addressed rather quickly changing her character to something a bit more appealing and I found myself liking her as time went on. In the end I just started accepting Anabelle as Anabelle, and as things start heating up both with the murder investigation and the love triangle that forms, I found myself really engrossed and rooting for the fiery red head. And then there were the peripheral characters whom I really enjoyed. Honestly, they were a very colorful troop, from Fern who I would have loved to see more of, to Marcy who as it turns out has a quite intriguing history that I would love to know more about. Though in terms of love interests, I found both Hitch and Cane sort of lacking. Both are, well, just such downers. True, Cane loves Anabelle, it's obvious. He's a sweety. But, I just can't help bristling at the way he treats her at times. Does she deserve it? Probably. Though for me, he says he understands Anabelle but still he pushes her for a commitment it's obvious she doesn't want to make which sort of made me frown on him a bit. But, Hitch wasn't any better. In fact, I really wanted to strangle him 95% of the time. Seriously, Anabelle needs some new men in her life because these two, not doing it for me.

The story itself was wildly unique with a very original spin on the fey in a modern day setting. There was a wonderful sense of mystery paired with some great tension and action as Anabelle struggles to better herself by finding the killer of a little girl. But, there was also some great mystery about the 'magic' that both Grace, the murder victim, and Anabelle, posses. What does it mean? How is it possible? Is it because of their immunity? So many great questions that I want to see answered. I also found myself loving the down to Earth, easy manner in which the story was told. Southern comfort takes on a whole new meaning as the relaxed work ethics of Anabelle come in to play along with her rather unabashed way of life. The writing style was wonderfully lush creating a very 'Southern' atmosphere filled with great exploration and development of the world this story is immersed in. The pace was quick making this an extremely fast read that kept me on my toes with some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Overall, this was an interesting novel that was unlike anything else that I'd ever read. I rather enjoyed the new take on characterization and the unique spin on the fey. And then there's the Southern atmosphere, a particular favorite of mine when it comes to settings. So, if you love off the wall characters, wonderful urban fantasy that is wholly original, then this is a great choice! I can't wait to see what comes next in Blood on the Bayou, the second installment in this thrilling new series!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Alcoholism and some graphic violent content


Evie said...

Thanks for the thorough review, it definitely sounds like a great read! And the cover art is beautiful, too :) I'm adding it to my TBR list!

Shelagh said...

What an awesome review - my compliments to you. This looks like a great new series with a fresh look at the Urban Fantasy genre (my favourite). Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)

Shelagh (New Follower)
The Word Fiend