Rhiannon Frater’s Pretty When She Dies, published originally in 2008, is the first in the Pretty When She… series. Amaliya wakes up dead, one evening, and very hungry. As regular readers will know, I am a fan of female vampires. (Especially bisexual female vampires, but Amaliya isn’t so much bisexual as indifferently bi-curious; whatever her identity, her primary attraction is to men.)
She’s sexy and independent, both revelling in her new nature and struggling against it. She’s also a very traditional vampire, in the sense that she burns in sunlight, has no reflection (which is shown, entertainingly, to be a severe handicap at times), is terrified of and hurt by religious symbols, and needs permission to enter a home. She drinks blood from the source, and isn’t all squeamish about it, and it’s not just an act of erotic sublimation.
It is world where the female vampires are just as powerful and deadly as the male, and there’s no sense that female vampires are inevitably evil in a way that the males aren’t. That said, the romantic interest is – surprise, surprise – older, wiser, stronger, wealthier, etc., etc.
Still, gots to give the peoples what they wants.
Looking at other reviews of this novel, many people seem irritated with Amaliya and happy with the multiple POV. I don’t have a problem with multiple POV but I do like ‘head hops’ to be done at clear boundaries, and they are sometimes confusingly fuzzy in this book. I wonder, though, whether the people who make a point of praising the multiple POV do so because they find the story of Cian (our romantic hero) more to their taste than the story of Amaliya (our lusty heroine).
I like Amaliya and her story. I’m less thrilled with the rest, but the romance is done quite well. I feel the plot relies a little heavily on coincidence, that the Epilogue is entirely unnecessary (but I know many like this sort of thing), and the pop culture references are a little too intrusive, but by and large it’s well-written and the settings well-described. And it’s not shy of blood and sex.