Rhiannon Frater’s Pretty When They Collide, published 2013, is a prequel to the Pretty When She… series that started with the excellent Pretty When She Dies.
This was picked for me to read as part of a goodreads challenge. I enjoyed Pretty When She Dies but had been avoiding this prequel. For one thing, Aimee and Cass are introduced in a later book so it’s really a prequel to a story I haven’t actually read. Prequels are odd things. When exactly should they be read? Before? After? Never? Still, a challenge is a challenge – and witches, vampires and lesbians make for an attractive mixture. Besides, it got a five-star review over at Lipstick Lesbian Reviews.
It didn’t grab me – at least, not until about halfway through. It’s an interesting setup, more urban fantasy than vampire story, with witches, a dhamphir, vampires and other. Lots of special abilities and amazing powers. Pretty When She Dies, on the other hand, was very much a vampire story, focussing on Amaliya’s transformation and her slow discovery of what it is to be a vampire. Pretty When They Collide has the vampires as bad guys, pure and simple.
But with so many characters with different powers it starts getting confusing. What could look pretty cool on the big screen doesn’t (for me) translate to an interesting story. (The X-Men always suffers from this, I feel. There’s never a clear sense to the reader of what the different characters are truly capable.) The other problem with focussing so much on special powers and abilities is that it’s harder to connect on a human level between reader and character.
I don’t know. I think this novella suffers because it is a prequel. Rhiannon Frater writes well and her characterisation is good, and I can overlook the distraction of pop-culture references, but the story underlying the novella isn’t really satisfying and the end of the novella descends unnecessarily into soap opera.