Cold In California by Deborah Riley-Magnus
Title: Cold in California
Author: Deborah Riley-Magnus
Series: Twice-Baked Vampire Series Book 1
Publish Date: May 15, 2015
Publisher: Books We Love Publishing
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Perspective: Third Person
Publisher’s Description: What happens to a vampire after he dies? Heaven? Hell? Nope, purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse. Go figure.
Twice-baked vampire, Gabriel Strickland, learns he has a chance at redemption when he’s whisked from his final demise into a purgatory secretly tucked in West Hollywood. Sixty creatures, including other dead vampires, pixies, a legendary Navaho stick man and bothersome leprechauns, struggle together to earn brownie points and wait out possible centuries of this purgatory. Gabriel receives dubious advice from the troll who runs the place, but there are always bugs in the pudding and he faces them all. Enter, the beautiful Dori Gallagher, who not only knocks Gabriel off his feet, but also an evil warlock who has designs on her. When menacing forces gather against Gabriel and everything he’s come to respect, it’s a fiery clash of the supernatural in one heroic effort to save his new reality.
Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).
Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ I like Gabriel Strickland. He’s an Iowa farmer from the Depression. He’s lived as a vampire for nearly 80 years and then get staked by a cracked baseball bat at a Cub’s game. Talk about karma. I like him because he struggles becoming human again after being a vampire for so long. It was a very original and cool concept. Dori Gallagher is an okay heroine. I just don’t feel for her as strongly as I do for the other characters. She does have a super sucky boss which I know all of us can relate to at any given time in our lives.
Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ Credo Cushman (troll) and Pete Maloney (werewolf) are the best secondary characters. Randy Valdez is pretty good too. Shirley the sex starved pixie is probably next. Nathan Cook, the bad guy, is just plain nuts. The other twice-baked vampires are busy looking for a “living” vampire to turn them back to vampires, so Credo thinks. The characters are all good ideas on the surface, but I felt they never get much deeper. I think it is because there was a lot going on in the story. I didn’t know which thing I should focus on.
World: ♥ ♥ ♥ Contemporary world. Not much difference except for the creatures living in it.
Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ It’s a good story. I like the concept and the characters. The whole “being dead twice” thing is pretty thought provoking. It makes me think of the Witness Protection Program. I like the characters – especially Gabriel. Dori is …. hard for me to relate to. I don’t know why exactly, because she is a good character. I think the complex story line distracted me. There are parts that didn’t go anywhere – at least this time in this book. Maybe things will be used in the next book, I don’t know.
Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ I enjoyed the concepts and I think if the story was a little more tightly packed, I might have enjoyed it more. I kind of felt out of focus while reading — too much going on, I think.
Invested Ivana says…
Vampire Gabriel Strickland is just trying to relax at a Cubs game with a cute girl before dinner when he’s staked through the heart with half a baseball bat broken on a foul ball – which is just an awesome way to start a story! I think that’s one of the best story openers I’ve read in a while. My poor Cubbies.
But his second death isn’t his last. Gabriel wakes to find himself in Los Angeles, NOT dead, but in a kind of Purgatory awaiting final judgement on his soul. In this “third” life, he is nearly human again, retaining just a few elements of his vampire existence such as speed and strength. I’ve read many books where the protagonist has to adjust from being human to being vampire, but never the other way around, until now. This is a fun twist that could have been played up even more, I think.
“Purgatory” is a warehouse in L.A. where Gabriel and other supernaturals wait in limbo for the final judgement. At the warehouse, Gabriel meets trolls, werewolves, leprechauns, pixies, and other species of supernaturals. Everyone in the warehouse has a story and a chance to tip the scales toward Heaven or Hell. This is such a fun and unique idea. We get a chance to see what some of the supernaturals do with their after-after-life and what Gabriel choses to do – which is get a job, find a girl, and fall in love.
With such a great start to a story, I was hooked pretty quickly and was able to stick it out through the rest of the book, even though the story gets quite complex. The relationship between Gabriel and Dori happens instantaneously rather than taking time to develop; Gabriel’s job – working with the baseball player whose bat staked him – doesn’t really go anywhere; and the bits about Nathan Cook and his Grandmama feel random. At least we get a little backstory on Cook to understand why he is psychotic.
The most interesting parts of the story, to me, are Gabriel adjusting to — and then running — the warehouse, and the vampire war. The vampire war gets a bit shortchanged in this book, I think. What is the war all about? Why do the vampires pick Nathan as the hero/patsy? What do the warehouse vampires know that no one else does? I’m thinking maybe the vampire war could have been a separate book so we could have gone more in-depth with that story.
Overall, though, I think the writing is good, the characters are interesting, and the story is unique. I’m going to be checking into the second Twice-Baked Vampire Series book to see what Gabriel and Dori get up to next.
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
If you like this book…
You might try the Dark Days series by Jocelynn Drake or the Victoria Nelson series by Tanya Huff. The second book in the Twice-Baked Vampire Series, Monkey Jump, will be published by Books We Love Publishing this Fall.
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.