Once Dead, Twice ShyTitle: Once Dead, Twice Shy
Author: Kim Harrison
ISBN: 9780061718168
Pages: 232 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher, c2009.

Everyone does it. Dies, I mean. I found this out for myself on my seventeenth birthday when I was killed in a freak car accident on my prom night. But it was no accident. It was a carefully planned scything, just a small moment in the battle between light reapers and dark, heaven and hell, choice and fate. Only I didn’t check out of my life like most dead people do. Thanks to a mistake, I’m stuck, dead on earth. The angel who failed to protect me and the amulet I stole from my killer are the only things keeping me from ending up where the dark reapers wanted me to be. Dead, that is.
My name is Madison Avery, and I’m here to tell you that there’s more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I’m seeing it, hearing it, touching it, living it. (vii)

Kim Harrison’s Once Dead, Twice Shy doesn’t waste time with an introduction. Seventeen-year-old Madison Avery now lives with her dad, who has no knowledge of the night his daughter died. She’s being trained by a light reaper to try to extend her “life”, with little success after four months. The killer is still trying to find Madison, finish the job, and reclaim his amulet to restore his full power. But when her body guard is called away and she finds herself under the watchful eye of an inexperienced guardian angel, Madison finds it necessary to tell the only other person who was there that night what really happened. On a race to save their lives, or in Madison’s case restore it, Madison is left wondering who she can really trust.

On the one hand, it’s an interesting way of writing a story, just diving right in, with almost no initial back story. Apparently, Harrison tells the back story in her contribution to the collection Prom Nights From Hell, but I haven’t read that yet. So the story reads almost like a movie that you come into late, and then the projector fails and you don’t get the end, which makes it somewhat unnerving. While the mythology and concept are well thought out and definitely detailed, the twists and turns and espionage make it more than a light read. Paranormal fans might like the concept, but it seems almost half-cooked, with a lot left unexplained. Maybe Harrison will explain it in coming books, but it’s fruastrating to me personally.

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