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Friday, June 17, 2011

Desires of the Dead A Clamor-Worthy Sequel? Um, Not Quite.

(Image from Indiebound)

(Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for Desires of the Dead, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from The Body Finder. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Reading back over my review of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting makes me laugh. To say the book made me excited for a sequel would be a bit of an understatement. My exact words were, "Please, God, tell me there's a sequel in the works ..." I was seriously clamoring, which is funny considering Desires of the Dead really isn't all that clamor-worthy. Not that it's terrible or anything, it's just not as riveting as its predecessor.

Desires of the Dead starts three months after The Body Finder ends. By now, 16-year-old Violet Ambrose has come to terms with her little "talent" of recognizing the imprints left behind by the dead. Sort of. It's not like she's ready to broadcast her freakishness to the world, but at least she's learning to control the sensations that cloud her mind every time she's near a dead body or someone who's been responsible for another's death. She's relieved that life's returning to normal, or at least this new version of normal. Violet may never get used to the fact that adorable Jay Heaton's no longer her best friend, but her boyfriend. Not that that's a bad thing.

Violet's tentative hold on normal shatters one day when she's wandering along Seattle's waterfront and hears the faint strains of a harp. From the way her body tingles with anticipation, pulling her toward the sound, she knows the music's not coming from the radio or a street performer. It's an echo. Violet's anonymous, phoned-in tip leads police to the body of a missing child. And grabs the attention of the FBI. An agent wants her help to find the little boy's killer.

As much as Violet wants to use her skill for good, she doesn't want it to take over her life. But ignoring the FBI agent's calls doesn't bring normal back. Someone's sending Violet disturbing messages, she's seeing a weird imprint at her high school, and Jay's spending more time with the new kid than he is with her. As if all that's not quite enough to deal with, Violet's being trailed by Rafe, a guy with "talents" that seem all too familiar. Overwhelmed by all the mysteries, she doesn't know where to turn, whom to trust. Only one thing is really clear: Violet's running out of time to figure it all out.

Even though I didn't like Desires of the Dead as much as the first book, I still love the premise behind this series. The idea of imprints - not so much that dead people have them, but that the souls of those who killed them (whether on purpose, in the line of duty, or by accident)are stained with matching "echoes" - seems kind of profound to me, really. It's what sets this series apart from all the others featuring psychics helping troubled souls find rest. Derting's story people are likable enough, without being anything special. A little character depth would have been nice, especially in Jay's case. I still like him, but he's getting a little boring. That's not my main complaint with Desires of the Dead, though. Mostly, I was bugged by how predictable it became. The plot hummed along in a very straightforward way, with no subtlety, no real complexity. I kept hoping for red herrings, clues that led nowhere, or anything to add a little originality and ... nope, didn't really happen. Still, the book's quick pacing kept me interested, making the story enjoyable if a little humdrum. Am I clamoring for the next book? Not exactly, although there is the intriguing matter of Rafe ...

Oh, and speaking of clamoring, have you read the plot summary for Derting's newest, The Pledge (available November 2011)? Now, that one's got me clamoring. Not to mention salivating. And praying to the ARC gods.

(Readalikes: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, The Sight by Judy Blundell and Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus other, milder invectives), violence and some sexual content

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. Susan, I totally concur with your review of this one. I read THE BODY FINDER last year and loved it. Reread it this year prior to starting DESIRES OF THE DEAD and I was primed for DESIRES to blow me away. Well, I didn't dislike it but it was just OK in much of it. I also was intrigued by Rafe and then the whole new kid thing and the sister and Violet's friend who liked the new kid. Kind of tiresome. And Jay, I'm trying to remember what I thought because I loved Jay in the first book. I was a bit disappointed in him, but you know he was so good in THE BODY FINDER, guess he had to have some flaws. Is it a flaw to be too good? LOL

    I'm looking forward to where the author will take us, but I can't quite see how Jay and Rafe will work out and what Violet will do next. Do you think maybe Jay has a talent of some kind?

  2. I'm glad you agree with me, Kay. Sometimes I wonder if I'm being way too picky/critical. Guess not :)

    I didn't want to say this in my review because it sounded so ... wrong, but I think Jay's getting boring because he's so good. That's screwed up, though, because I like GOOD guys, both in fiction and IRL. Still, he's almost too good, you know? Not realistic enough. That would be cool if Jay had powers. I wonder if that's where the story's heading??

  3. Thanks for the review. I also loved The Body Finder and am looking forward to reading Desires. It will be interesting to see how I feel about it. And we can always look forward to the next one, right?

    Happy reading!


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