Dead Letter Day (A Messenger Novel)
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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Melina Markowitz, messenger for the underworld, delivers the goods for the supernatural beings in our midst—no questions asked. It’s more than a job; it’s a mission. Safety be damned.
Melina’s missing friend, Paul, could just be taking a little werewolf “me time,” but her investigation yields something more sinister. Suspicions first fall on Paul’s wolf-pack rival. But that wouldn’t explain the sudden windstorms rattling Melina’s nerves—or the ominous, shrieking crows that keep appearing.
The clues lead Melina to a mermaid, a damaged and possibly deranged police officer and patterns for Norwegian doilies—finally bringing her to the realization that she may be dealing with the most powerful enemy she has ever faced.”
One of the things that I’ve been continuously impressed with in this series is the author’s willingness to use mythical creatures that are not well known. She does have vampires and werewolves as major characters, but she doesn’t confine herself to those often overused beings. For instance, this novel has a mermaid in it, and the mermaid is written so that there’s no doubt that this is a creature with very different values and priorities than humans. It’s not just what Rendahl chooses to write about, but how she chooses to write about them, that makes this story so fresh.
I also admit to a bit of fan-girlishness here: this series is set in the area where I live, and there’s a sort of excitement when reading about places that I’m familiar with. Of course, writers are told to “write what you know”, but it’s still an interesting and bold choice to set the books in Sacramento. It’s a good choice, though—this area is close to both ocean and mountains and a variety of towns and cultures. I can easily believe that a mythical creature could live here undetected.
While the plot focuses on Paul’s disappearance, Melina gets some great opportunities for character growth as she faces a looming personal issue. It provides opportunities for contact with her family, whom we’ve seen some of before and get to revisit. I felt like this gave the story a more down to earth feeling as Melina and her loved ones do such things as share dinner and converse on topics other than the supernatural. It keeps the novel grounded in a way that is unexpected but quite nice.
I think that this series deserves a lot more attention than it seems to be getting. Dead Letter Day has more than enough action, odd creatures and magic to satisfy the pickiest fantasy reader. Rendahl deserves props for finding something unique to offer in an often overcrowded genre.
Also by this author: Dead on Delivery, Don’t Kill the Messenger
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on May 2, 2013.