Sunday, July 27, 2008

Underdead-Liz Jasper

Liz Jasper
Cerridwen Press, Dec 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9781419956836

In Long Beach, California, Jo Gartner teaches geology to the hormonal crowd, eighth graders. She attends a boring Christmas party with her best friends, high school science teachers Becky and Carol when the spiked and dyed hair Korean-American Becky informs her a hot dude in black is eying her like the last piece of Carol’s chocolate cake. After dodging Roger, Jo says no way, but Becky persuades her to talk to the hunk worth dying for. Will insists Jo needed rescuing from ennui and besides he explains he loves Jane Austen.

They go outside to talk further, but instead of Pride and Prejudice, he bites her neck. Jo is clueless to what his nip means as Will is a vampire who has turned the science teacher into an underdead; an almost vampire, sort of like being almost pregnant, as she has all the issues like sunburn and no bread to cope with, but none of the benefits. Gavin the vampire hunter arrives to either kill or help her. Meanwhile Jo struggles with her blood attraction and loathing of Will; while his vampiress lover rejects the notion of sharing his neck. Soon afterward another teacher is killed with phony vampiric bites on the neck in Jo’s classroom. However, learning vampirism 101 and amateur sleuthing still seems relatively easy to Jo after teaching eighth graders and worrying how her mom will react.

Using amusing hyperbole to stereotype the negative side of vampirism, this tongue in cheek (and teeth on neck) tale is an amusing fast-paced paranormal whodunit that the audience will enjoy because of the combination of suspense, romance and the supernatural. Jo is terrific as the focus of the storyline; she muses how she went from dateless to a triangle and one in the romance department while working on a mystery and surviving eighth grade. as Liz Jasper writes an entertaining lighthearted romp.
Harriet Klausner

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