Tag Archives: Debbie Cassidy

Book Review: Reaper Unexpected, by Debbie Cassidy

Debbie Cassidy‘s Deadside Reapers series was over on Sadie’s Spotlight a while back. So, when I happened to see book one, Reaper Unexpected, on the Amazon freebie list, I picked up a copy. Then I opted to buy the compilations of the rest of the series. (I don’t know why it’s broken into two.)

deadside reapers covers

Your dead are our business.

Got a loved one who’s passed? Want to ask your dead aunt where she hid that elusive will? Head over to Necro city and look no further than Soul Savers Inc.

One day the world was normal, and the next, it was filled with ghosts. And then the reapers came. Blood-sucking hot dudes with wings and wicked scythes. They took control, and now we have a system.

Now we have Necro city, the hub of all things untethered.

As a soul relocation agent, it’s my job to rehouse the dead until the reapers come to collect, but with so few of those dudes about, the wait isn’t pretty. Thank goodness for decent coffee, frosted donuts, and a pending promotion.

Things are looking good until they’re not.

One bar fight and a dead reaper later, I’m left holding the scythe.

Not just any scythe, but a scythe belonging to one of Lilith’s four favored sons—the most powerful reapers in the world.

For some reason, it’s chosen me.

Now, three very large, very pissed off reapers are on my case.

It looks like that promotion is going to have to wait.

my review

This is going to be a long review. But I’m reviewing the whole series (all 7 books) in one review. So, it would kind of be unreasonable to expect brevity.

The reason I chose to write a single review, rather than one for each book, is that the story is paced over the series, not individual books. If you’d like a review of the individual books, I would consider the previous sentence to fulfill the request. The individual books do not stand alone. They are nothing more than slices of the larger whole. So, I’d suggest committing to the whole thing or not bothering. (I wish I’d known that before I started book one.)

When I say it’s paced over the series, not the books, I mean that you reach the end of a “book” and have neither reached nor passed a climax of any sort, nor have you completed an arc of the story, etc. It’s just the first, second, third, 100, 200, 300 pages of the 1600ish-page story. There is nothing else to signify the beginning, middle, or end of a book.  Thus, I do not consider them books in their own right, in any manner beyond the reader being required to purchase each leg of the story individually.

deadside reaperes 1-3As an example of this pacing, in book one, the heroine spends 80% (literally 80%) with one of the men. (Keep in mind that this is a Why Choose Romance that ends with 6 or 7 men, depending on how you count one of them.) She’s met one other, but he is only a side character. At 80%, he has a bit of a personality shift and becomes relevant, and the third man appears for the first time. At 80% into the book, she meets one of her romantic partners. She doesn’t even meet all of the men until far later in the series.

The author calls the series a slow burn, but slow burn refers to a type of romance, not to a type of story. I sincerely think I kept reading just because I wanted to reach a point at which I had read something, anything in its completion. And I kept coming to the end of “books” and not feeling like I’d found it.

Now I will say that I love Fee’s backbone. Cora is marvelous and even more badass, in my opinion. I liked most of the romantic partners individually. I appreciate how the worldbuilding was conscience. The author gives us a good understanding of it all without info dumping. And the writing is mechanically sound. So, I’m not claiming the series is without merit.

But I also admit that I kept reading just to experience the absolute train wreck of it all. It 100% felt like the author didn’t have a plan, just dropped whatever occurred to her on the page and ran with it. As such, the thin thread that tied the series together was frequently forgotten in favor of whatever randomness popped up. Similarly, entire important characters (romantic partner level important) just dropped away, forgotten for a while, and then re-emerged, which made it hard to maintain any care for them.

Every important male character who isn’t related to her wants and pursues her. But there is no sex until 98% through the 3rd book. That’s a long way to ride on hints and suggestions. What’s more, when there is finally a sex scene, it’s miserable sex. It actually contains the words, “there can be no foreplay,” and no one involved wants it. I might not feel so cheated if all of the sex scenes weren’t bad…just bad. Nothing about them is particularly enticing.

I’m not sure if I was supposed to be emotionally attached to Fee and her men or Fee and cock in general. Because the author treats them as if they are interchangeable. The men come and go, often disappearing for long periods of time to be replaced by other men. By the end, any attachment I might have started to feel died, and every aspect of every relationship with every man just felt flat…as did ALL OF THE SEX SCENES.

Fee is just too special for words. Every powerful man either wants to claim her or turns out to be related to her. EVERY ONE. (Though I’ll note that every single powerful woman either wants to kill her, use her, or is absent entirely.) It’s not unusual for a book or series to contain several tropes, but this series takes on way too many and then gives them ALL to the SINGLE main character.

She’s the first female alpha wolf in 40 years, a witch, a demon, a dominus (when you really shouldn’t be able to be all of them), a soulmate to one of the most powerful dominus, lover of another, the last and lost brood of one of the most powerful demon bloodlines, the lost daughter of one of the most powerful shifter alphas, daughter of the most powerful fallen angel and inheriter of his ultimate power, a fated mate to two alphas (which makes her a member of deadside reapers 4-7a trifecta and therefore extra powerful), the only one who can save the worlds (more than once). She goes into heat, can talk to animals, and is wanted by basically all the most powerful men in paranormal society. She’s the kindest and the most compassionate, effortlessly and cluelessly sexy, etc. It’s too much, and it’s not enough, in the sense that there is so much crammed in that nothing is developed. There eventually came a point where I kept reading just to see what else the author might cram in there. And about the same time, everything just became painfully predictable.

And, honestly, some of the tropes weren’t even utilized effectively. Going into heat, for example, would suggest fertility. But despite having unprotective sex during the heats (and other times), impregnation is never discussed. The heat seems to be devoid of any purpose.

There are also a number of questionable conveniences, where things just happen to fall into place at the right time. Or someone just happens to give important information just when it’s needed (but never before). But there is no consistency in the importance of events. For example, the literal unraveling, end of the world apocalypse happens simultaneously with an underworld war, and an earth-side missing person’s police investigation. All three are treated with the exact same gravitas. And when finished are just dropped with ease. I don’t think I’ve ever seen saving the world treated with such disregard. Like, shrug, ok, done with that, on to the next thing.

I could go on. There were any number of elements over these 7 books that I’d like to vent about. But I’ll just say that I kept reading in the same way you can’t look away from some grotesque display. By the end of the series, I was definitely skimming and praying for it to end, but also intrigued by how else the author could make Fee special.

All in all, I’m just glad to actually be finished. But as a side note, I want to address the covers…or at least the first one. When the series begins, the character is curvy. The reader sits through more than one internal monologue about the state of her hips and thighs because of her love of baked sweets. Then she gets quite explicitly fat-shamed (it’s done with an undertone of salaciousness, but fat-shamed all the same). To have a mid-sized to fat woman described in the book and then have, not only a thin woman but a thin, ripped woman with visible abs represent her on the cover is an insult. Sure, she trains as the series goes on. But she’s called curvy even into the 3rd book. This sort of thing infuriates me. Why bother with any fat rep if you’re going to rip it away on the cover?

Other Reviews:

Reaper Unexpected by Debbie Cassidy – A Book Review

Or Books And Blurbs: Debbie Cassidy (post for each book)