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Once Dead, Twice Shy

by Kim Harrison

Series: Madison Avery (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0326320,259 (3.43)21
Fantasy. Romance. Young Adult Fiction. Young Adult Literature. HTML:

My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

Madison's prom was killerâ??literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaperâ??yeah, that kind of reaperâ??intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earthâ??dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that… (more)

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» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
While I love YA Teen books, this one confused me a little bit. I figured that since we knew Madison was dead, just from reading the blurb; that we would get a little more detail, or even a chapter out of what really happened that lead up to her being dead and walking around "alive". But really, you just get little flash backs and a few paragraphs after 3 or so chapters.
Once I understood what all was going on, it was easy-ish to get into the story. Madison, our main character, is dead, but not really dead. See she snagged what she thought was a Dark Reapers amulet and has been trying to learn to use it with the help of her Light Reaper. Now, confusing as that was, I kinda got it.. Dark Reapers are reapers who scythe the living before it is their time, and Light Reapers are there to stop them usually. All the power of the reapers; both light and dark; comes from the amulets that they wear, which contains their power and scythe (sword).
There are also Light and Dark timekeepers (which are humans), they make the amulets for the reapers. Light for light and Dark for dark... When Madison stole what she thought was a reapers amulet what she actually did was snag the Dark Timekeeper's (Kairos) amulet.
So, when Ron; the Light Timekeeper and Barnabas; Madison's Light Reaper; figure out that what she actually has is the Dark Timekeeper amulet, they disappear to talk with the seraphs leaving Madison in the care of a first-sphere guardian angel. Madison and Josh ( prom date the night she died) along with "Grace" the guardian angel, barely make it through two days without Ron or Barnabas....
The ending was kinda hard to believe, but then again, I know nothing of angels as I don't normally read any books about them ( just the Fallen ones!), but I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy to see what happens. ( )
  chaoticmel | May 18, 2024 |
I didn't know this, until I looked it up, but apparently a short story set before these events explain in better detail what happened to Madison. The short story appears in the anthology Prom Nights From Hell. Also equally important to point out, far as I know this doesn't tie into her mainstream series The Hollows (or the Rachel Morgan books, whatever you want to call them). This is my first time reading Kim Harrison, in any form, as well.

My very first thought while reading this was that even though its a YA, I don't think its a great idea to have the MC finding her killer attractive. I don't care if he's David Tennant good looking, she shouldn't still think he's hot after being killed by him. It just...squicks me. That's a pet peeve however and shouldn't be counted against the book.

The book moved fast, keeping up the momentum that is started in the first chapter or so. It's not WHAM-BAM-THANK YOU MA'AM fast, but it moves along quickly enough to make you go 'huh? wait. back pedal' when character development emerges. Since I haven't read the short story, I can only assume that the lack of substantial coverage over Madison's Prom Night is covered in depth in that story, but for me I had to piece together most of it from the random comments made by Madison and company.

I was intrigued by the fact that there are 'light' and 'dark' reapers hanging around this mortal coil, duking it out to either kill or save a person who decides to march off the beaten path of fate. I would have been perfectly content if we just learned about them the entire time, since the dynamics were rather interesting to contemplate. We were also introduced to Timekeepers and seraphs however, making things a bit more complicated.

I think that Harrison over reached her audience a little bit. In mainstream paranormals, complicated entangled relationships are the norm, from my experience in young adult paranormals the complicated relationships tend to stay centered around a couple characters--not the main character and the entire cast of supporting. By the halfway point of the book I couldn't honestly tell you that I understood what was going on completely. Someone was after Madison, she had a lot more to worry about other then the phantom 'living' person feelings she was supposed to not be having and her mentor was starting to look shady. That's all I really got.

Like I said I was intrigued by the dark vs. light reapers and Madison was an interesting character, but there wasn't enough backstory to back up her feelings or frustrations properly. The world seemed distractedly built--or it might have been because I was too busy trying to keep Team Good and Team Evil straight to notice the world building details and the supporting cast was all over the place. The twist at the end left reasonable interest for me to want to read the next book however.

Oh and the banter/bickering with practically everyone in the cast that Nakita engaged in was priceless. She was my favorite character I think, with Grace in a close second. ( )
  lexilewords | Dec 28, 2023 |
An OK read that made me miss the TV series Dead Like Me. The TV series was better, but this one has some potential to grow into a decent story. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
I was disappointed. The story sounded interesting and it was written by one of my favorite authors!
I listened to this story and a lot of it was repetitive.. A shame because I
liked the characters but I just got a 'blah' feeling... ( )
  Jonesy_now | Sep 24, 2021 |
I'm a big fan of Kim Harrison and I've always looked forward to her Hollows novels, so I never understood why I had never read her YA novels. For some odd reason, I thought they were about vampires, having never read the blurbs even. My initial reaction was... it's ok. Not my favorites, and not as bad as some urban fantasy I've read, but definitely not at the top of my list. Hell, it's still a sight better than some installments from one of my heavily looking-forward-to urban fantasy authors.

That being said, the novel itself requires more than just a tiny bit of reading comprehension skills, so perhaps it is simultaneously too much for the worst YA readers and too simple for the best. It just didn't have the right mix. I think I would have enjoyed it much more had she written it for her adult audiences with the appropriate extra angst and gore and consequences. The basic concepts reminded me of Bleach with a bit more time travel mixed in. Pretty interesting, all told.

The rest of the teenager stuff I could always do without, but that's the nature of YA reading. I'm not judging against it.

There was just ... something ... that needed to happen, that didn't. Otherwise, I enjoyed the nice powerups and twists.
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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For Andrew and Stuart
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I leaned my shoulder against a rough boulder and fumed.
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Fantasy. Romance. Young Adult Fiction. Young Adult Literature. HTML:

My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

Madison's prom was killerâ??literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaperâ??yeah, that kind of reaperâ??intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earthâ??dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that

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