By David Wellington
Here I am in the middle of my Halloween run and 23 Hours land on my reading list. It fits in with my vampire theme this week but if you're looking for a terrifying horror story, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking to be huddled in bed, the covers pulled up to your chin and the lights on to banish the shadows, this won't do it ... unless just the mention of the word vampire or half-dead frightens you, then this will work for you.
The fourth installment in Laura Caxton's vampire-slaying life, this time she's doing hard time in a women's prison which has been infested with half-deads and vampires. Older than Buffy with a MacGyver-ish ability to create weapons out of whatever is at hand, Laura has her work cut out for her in 23 Hours. She has been given 23 hours to save her girlfriend from the evil vampire Justinia Malvern and her half-dead horde. What ensues is a chaotic dash across the prison while battling Justinia's group as well as a psychotic ninja inmate Guilty Jen and her prison gang.
I will be honest, I hated Guilty Jen. She was cheesy in a book that has great characters otherwise. Yeah, she beat Laura up, but I never felt she was remotely a threat to anyone, least of all Laura. I kept wondering how someone like her could have more control over a prison than the warden or guards, and I kept thinking, "Why hasn't she died yet?" But she doesn't take away from the great action story that this is. The ending was so sweet, I'd read it again, Guilty Jen and all, just to enjoy the twist.
Justinia Malvern, sole surviving vampire, is my favorite vampire I've seen in a while. Evil laced with wisdom, patience and cunning, no step taken without careful and calculated planning. "Malvern didn't have a sadistic bone in her body. Not out of any nobility or morality, though. It was because sadism was inefficient. It didn't help her meet her goals."
I also loved Laura's celly and sidekick extraordinaire Gert. She was one sick puppy but with great lines.
Wellington's ability to write action sequences that get your adrenalin pumping is worthy of the big screen. If you're looking for an action-packed thriller, this book is for you.