7 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding

Title: Three Days to Dead

Author: Kelly Meding

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Dell
Publication Date: November 2009
Paperback: 416 pages

Stand alone or series: First book in the Dredge City Urban Fantasy series

How did I get this book: ARC from the author

Why did I read this book: When Kelly Meding wrote to us last year, offering a copy of her debut UF novel for review, we jumped at the opportunity. Especially when we saw it blurbed by the likes of Patricia Briggs and Jackie Kessler.

Summary: (from KellyMeding.com)
She’s young, deadly, and hunted—with only three days to solve her own murder…

When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue – in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there – her troubles are only just beginning. Before that night, she and the other two members of her Triad were star bounty hunters — mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives, but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor . . . and she can’t even remember what it was.

Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice – and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days, Evy will die again – but this time, there’s no second chance…


Evangeline Stone is dead. Ergo, she should not be awake, cold and naked on the coroner’s table in the city morgue. But somehow and for some reason, Evy’s eternal rest has been interrupted, and she only has three days to discover why. Unfortunately, Evy has no memory of the seven days worth of events leading up to her death. To complicate matters further, Evy has been resurrected in a body completely alien to her – on the plus side, she’s now taller, younger and curvier, but this new body she’s possessing has absolutely no combat training whatsoever. For a Hunter of “dredges” (paranormal creatures, such as vampires, shapeshifters, goblins, and fey) such as Evy, this poses some immediate problems. Without memory of what she’s supposed to do and only a name and address to go with her host body, Evy sets off into the night. Only, what Evy discovers is truly terrifying. She’s got to recover her memories to stop a violent, dangerous alliance between vampires and goblins, and to save her only friend, Wyatt Truman – and she only has a 72 hours to do so.

When I first read the synopsis for Three Days to Dead, I loved the time-limit premise heroine Evangeline Stone had to work against. The beginning of each chapter includes a 24-esque countdown clock, detailing how much time Evy has left before kicking the bucket. The constraint means that there’s little time for screwing around, and the plotting for Three Days to Dead reflects that urgency – it’s a fast-paced, immensely readable novel. The world that Ms. Meding creates in this debut novel is perhaps a bit familiar, populated with the usual fanged, furred and fey suspects, but with enough of a spin to make it seem if not completely fresh, at least attention grabbing. In Evy Stone’s city, humans are the dominant race, and all the paranormals are “dregs.” Though some are friendlier than others (bridge trolls, for example, are friendlier than vampire or goblin half-breeds), humanity has Triads, or a trio of human hunters led by a “handler,” to protect them. Before Evy’s first death, she was a member of one of the more formidable Triads with friend Wyatt Truman as her handler. I loved the concept of these independent teams all controlled by some formidable, unseen group of hardasses (referred to throughout the book by Evy as simply, “The Brass”), and the palatable tension between the different races of creature.

In terms of characters, Ms. Meding does a decent job. Evy Stone is one of the tougher brands of UF heroine, an orphan from birth, passed from foster home to foster home before being singled out for recruitment by the hunters for her lack of emotional and familial ties, as well as her tendencies to violence. I was a bit put-out with the emergence of the amnesiac UF hero trope (see Additional Thoughts below for more), and there are a number of eerie similarities between Three Days to Dead‘s Evy and Tainted‘s Lily Carlisle (an Urban Fantasy novel released around the same time last year by Julie Kenner). Add to that the fact that when I was reading Evy’s voice, she never came across as a completely believable character, especially in terms of her street-tough upbringing and background as a hunter. She has a conscience, she has mushy feelings for Wyatt, and overall, she seems far too soft to pull off true badass status. I liked Evy, but I couldn’t really believe in her as a character. There’s also the matter of an Awkwardly Timed Love Story between Evy and Wyatt, which is a pet peeve of mine. Hookups and sexual distractions when in the midst of great peril tends to take away from the realism of a novel. Wyatt is a fine hero character too, but again suffers from the same lack of credibility. As Evy’s handler, Wyatt also is a human mage with serious powers and a reputation as an emotionally distant badass, even to his own Triad. However, this is something that readers are told throughout the novel, but not ever something we see for ourselves. I suppose that’s my biggest gripe with Three Days to Dead – in many ways, it almost felt like it should be the second novel in a series. There’s so much history between Wyatt and Evy that we never get to see, and instead are simply told. The character development, and my reading experience, was hampered greatly due to this weird discrepency.

All that said, however, I still very much enjoyed Three Days to Dead. There’s a lot of potential for a great series here, and with time, hopefully these characters will grow into more believable molds. I’ll definitely stick around for As Lie the Dead, book 2, later this year.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Check out the excerpt via Random House’s widget below:

Additional Thoughts: The Amnesiac Urban Fantasy Hero. S/he’s ubiquitous. Here are a few other UF/paranormal romance that use this familiar trope, for better or for worse…

Thin Air by Rachel Caine
Tainted by Julie Kenner
The Wild Road by Majorie M. Liu
Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk
Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison (selective amnesia)
Skinwalker by Faith Hunter (selective amnesia)
Nightlife by Rob Thurman (selective amnesia)

Verdict: Though not without its flaws, Three Days to Dead is an immensely readable book with a whole lotta potential. Recommended for the Urban Fantasy fan.

Rating: 7 – Very Good

Reading Next: Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper


  • Thuy
    January 19, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I’m looking forward to reading Three Days To Dead. Thanks for the review.

  • Angela
    January 19, 2010 at 1:24 am

    As a veteran of the UF genre and one who tries to read every release in search of a new series, I would grade Three Days to Dead a middling C because of the shaky world-building and the flat narrator. The premise is awesome, but the execution of the supernatural aspect left me gnashing my teeth. Plus, Evy is yet another UF heroine with no real distinguishing characteristics besides the ubiquitous smart mouth, attitude, and hard-headed independence. Plus, knowing that this was a series made the hook (the three days) a bit of a let down by the time I’d slogged through the first one hundred pages. Here’s to hoping Meding’s second book is much, much stronger. 😕

  • hwm
    January 19, 2010 at 1:50 am

    I didn’t like the premise either. This book is built around the question, whether Ivy will survive those three days (and beyond) or not and of course she will.
    First clue: Ivy is the only narrator and the book is told in first person. If there had been a second narrator I might have been more worried about her survival, but this way? No.
    Second clue: THREE DAYS TO DEAD is the first installment of an urban fantasy series. Series tend to have more than one book and to change the first person narrator is highly unusual in this genre.
    Proof comes in the last page of the book: The next book will feature Ivy and it’s not a prequel.
    Most urban fantasies are expected to end (more or less) well for the main character. No matter how bad things seem, how much (s)he is put through the grinder, the hero is going survive. The Dresden Files would be nothing without Harry Dresden, right?

    However, if you use the survival of your main character (and only narrator) as a hook, as the main way to catch interest and to distinguish yourself from other series in this genre, you better make it suspenseful and leave the reader in doubt! After reading the first line I knew how the story would end, which took out a lot of tension.

    Other than the premise the book has little to offer. The world building and character development were weak.

    I wont read another book in this series, but I might give Meding a try later on.

  • Mandi
    January 19, 2010 at 5:24 am

    I really enjoyed this one and thought it is a great world she has built. There were times where I wanted to push Evy out the door and say – dude hurry it up you have a limited time to live!! But I thought the relationship with Wyatt worked well..especially when we got a little more background as she regained her memory. Interested to see where she goes from here.

  • Adrienne
    January 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I have it on the TBR pile which is about 65 books strong now (all your fault you naughty smugglers) 😀 So many people listed this as top 10 of UF for 2009…I might have to read this before Fallen now to see if I feel the same way. Thanks for the other recommendations, now I am going to have to find them…possible purchase them… 😛

  • Tiah
    January 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I just picked this up last weekend so I’m glad to see the 7 on this. I haven’t read a bad review yet, I can’t wait to read it.

  • Maya M.
    January 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I’m halfway through this and really enjoying it. I’m not especially wellread in UF so aspects some readers apparently felt maybe overdone haven’t bothered me. I loved the bridge troll and gargoyle.

  • orannia
    January 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I quite like the premise of this book, and luckily my library has a copy, so I’ve placed a hold. I’m looking forward to reading it…and seeing how it turns out, although knowing there is a sequel is a kind of a let down 🙂

  • Carina
    January 20, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Not usually my genre, but this actually looks pretty interesting. I really love the whole “not knowing who you are when you wake up” premise – it makes up for a lot of shortcomings in my happy little reading world.

  • Joint Review: Trance by Kelly Meding | The Book Smugglers
    December 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    […] I’ve read Kelly Meding’s other UF work Three Days to Dead and enjoyed it, though I’ve been shamefully lax on picking up the following books in that […]

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