By Joely Sue Burkhart
Welcome to the first of my vacation reviews! The second one will be DEATH BY BIKINI by Linda Gerber. First though, I shall review BEAUTIFUL DEATH, which is a strange little novel. In an apocalyptic future, most of humanity has been destroyed by a virus supposedly carried to Earth by an alien race. Isabella Thanatos kills the contaminated humans to protect her city Athens. Athens, and New Olympus, were created by her father as a refuge to the surviving humans. (Members of the society choose a Greek name upon joining.) But Zeus and the Pantheon are not benevolent rulers - and Isabella herself has become contaminated. She seeks help from her old friend Icarus, who sends her to Hades. Isabella hates Hades, an alien, for both carrying the virus and for feeding on her five years ago.
Hades and the other aliens came to Earth due to political exile. The Mycenean society is actually fairly interesting. They are Burkhart's take on vampires, and she plays with a few common tropes (the unnatural beauty, the bonded mate). Throughout the course of the book, Hades and Isabella fall in love and fight against the rulers of their societies who were cruel to them in the past. It's predictable, but the pages fly past quickly.
I liked Burkhart's prose. It flowed well and kept me reading. The story wasn't that fabulous, partially because Isabella is a something of a Mary Sue and that gets her through most of her scrapes. Her and Hades follow standard patterns of character growth, much of which happens in bed, which may be off-putting to some readers. On the other hand, I enjoyed watching the story unfold. Burkhart seems to be having fun with the story, even though I would recommend it most to emo kids. She weaves several plot strands together coherently, although I wish there conclusion contained a little about what happened to the Myceneans (particularly Xerxes) after the climax. She also includes a number of sympathetic side characters. I think I liked Charon, Hades' drakon, the best. These characters bring levity to the apocolyptic novel, and provide a good contrast to the villians.
BEAUTIFUL DEATH went on sale from Drollerie Press on the twentieth. The novel is currently on sale for $5.91 (15% off). You can find more at Burkhart's blog or website.