Review: Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding

December 4, 2009 Review 43

Review: Three Days to Dead by Kelly MedingThree Days to Dead by Kelly Meding
Series: Dreg City #1
Published by Dell on November 24, 2009
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 405
Source: Personal Copy
Excerpt: Excerpt
Sexual Content: A rape is alluded to but not described. A brief sex scene without graphic descriptions.
Reviewed by: Abigail
4 Stars

They’ll never see her coming. . . . When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue—in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there—her troubles are only just beginning. Before that night she and the two other members of her Triad were the city’s star bounty hunters, mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor—and she can’t even remember what it was. Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice—and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days Evy will die again—but this time there’s no second chance. . . .

Review: Have you seen the movie D.O.A starring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan or the 1950 original about a man who is poisoned and has only 24 hours to solve his own murder?  It’s a great premise that unfortunately didn’t make for a great movie.  Three Days to Dead operates on a similar idea with a much more successful execution.

I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born. Vividly. Waking up on a cold morgue table surrounded by surgical instruments and autopsy paraphernalia, to the tune of the medical examiner's high-pitched shrieks of fright, is an unforgettable experience. – first line from Three Days to Dead

Evy Stone, paranormal bounty hunter, wakes up naked in a morgue inside a stranger's body with little memory of the past few.  Now she has only 72 hours to figure out how she died, why she was brought back, and who is ultimately responsible.  Easier said then done when she’s been branded a traitor by those she used to work with.  Not sure who to trust, Evy turns to the one man whom she has always depended on, her Handler Wyatt. Together they begin to unravel a plot that goes deeper then either of them feared and includes a possible alliance between the vampire Bloods and the Goblins that would result in the destruction of mankind.

A lot of first time authors, especially in the urban fantasy genre, struggle with trying to establish a unique and distinct world without reducing their characters to little more than props while trying to tell a captivating story.  Kelly manages this task beautifully without resorting to huge passages of info dumping.  I have a good sense of her world and the rules that govern it, and yet I feel truly connected and engaged with her characters.  Evy especially.

Evy Stone is my kind of girl. She's tough, resourceful, and most importantly resilient.  Her second life starts hard and gets harder.  The more she remembers the worse it gets.  Friends die, allies betray, and her new body turns traitor in desiring Wyatt in a very unprofessional way.  And do you know how many pages of the book Evy spends feeling sorry for herself and complaining about her lot?  None.  Not a one. Zilch.  This was such a refreshing outlook from a character that it made up for some convenient plot developments towards the end of the book (more about that later).

And of course Evy isn’t alone in Dreg City.  While including the standard fare paranormal beings like vampires and weres (although I've never before read about were owls aka owlkins), though with unique and interesting twists, Three Days to Dead also brings to light other less prominent beings such as gargoyles, gremlins, goblins, and trolls.  I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word gargoyle I think of fat little statues singing Disney songs.  Kelly's gargoyles are a lot closer to their vampire cousins; stoic, wise, and often indifferent to other creatures.  And forget short, they can reach 7ft in height.

But its not just additional creatures that set Three Days to Dead apart, Kelly uses an interesting narrative technique in the flashback scenes where Evy is remembering the days leading up to her death.  They are all told in the present tense.  This was a gamble that I think paid off big time.  The connection between Evy and the reader is strengthened by this present tense and a sense of immediacy is created that would have been impossible if told in the past tense.  If you've read any of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games books you'll be appreciative and familiar with this tense.  If not, it may take you a paragraph or two to acclimate, but after that I think you'll be so swept up in the scene that you won’t even notice it.

There were only a few things that I didn’t like about Three Days to Dead. As I mentioned before, there were a couple of convenient plot developments that weren’t even hinted at prior to occurring, and I could have wished for a few less species to interact with only because they were each so interesting that I would have liked more time to focus on just one or two, even three.  And sadly Evy’s love interest Wyatt fell a bit flat for me.  He was a bit too needy, too weak to credibly hold Evy’s interest.  She is a strong woman who needs a strong man, and I don’t think he will ever be enough. Where’s an alpha man when you need one?

Minor criticisms aside, Three Days to Dead is easily one of the best urban fantasy debuts I've read in a long time.  And lucky for us, As Lie the Dead, Dreg City, book 2, is due out next summer, and Kelly has posted some short stories featuring Evy online at

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43 Responses to “Review: Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding”

  1. Brooke Reviews

    The flashback's and creatures sound interesting. I'm a sucker for flashbacks. Just like learning more about the characters past I guess. 🙂

    I'm a follower.
    bacarleton at gmail dot com

  2. BookWhisperer

    Right now I am reading Tainted… I am loving it very good debut for the Lily Chronicles… Check it out

    Sign me up I follow via email and google reader.


  3. mysteriouskoi

    Rachel Vincent's Shifters series one of my favorite urban fantasies.

    Please sign me up for the Three Days to Dead giveaway… It sounds really good! I'm a follower and email subscriber. 🙂


  4. tetewa

    I've been hearing alot about this one and hope to be able to get it! I recently read Skin Game by Ava Gray and enjoyed it.

  5. Shooting Stars Mag

    I am following and your review definitely makes it sound good…the fact that she's a debut author and wrote an amazing book, the flashbooks leading up to her death, etc. Sounds great!

    lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

  6. Stacy

    Great review, I am like you, I love it when the character is tough, resourceful and resilient. No whining allowed lol


    i am following your blog.

  7. heather

    I really like the unique premise of having to solve your own murder. That definitely peaks my interest.
    My favorite debut has to be Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler.

    I am an e-mail follower.
    [email protected]

  8. Patti

    I recently read Night's Cold Kiss by Tracey O'Hara that was pretty good. I'm curious to see what she does with her 2nd book.

    pspinney AT cox DOT net

  9. LiLi

    You can delete this comment after you read it, but the deadline for the contest say November 23, and was not sure if you meant December 23 possibly?

  10. donnas

    Sounds like a great book. I look forward to seeing how she gets her memory back of what happened.

    I am a follower.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  11. Kimberly B.

    What really sold me on this book in this review was when you described Evy as resilient. A lot of urban fantasy series have heroines who are a tough and no-nonsense, but what I really like is someone who gets knocked down, and then gets up again (hey, isn't that a song?). Much more interesting than someone who never gets beat up or pushed around in the first place.
    Thanks for the great giveaway!
    I'm a follower.
    beax0002 (at) umn (dot) edu

  12. Annette Allison

    I read a lot of UF but have yet to read one in present tense. I love first person so I'm really looking forward to trying out this tense. Thanks for the review and giveaway!



  13. van_pham

    My favorite Urban Fantasy debut was Chloe Neill's Some girls Bite. I really enjoyed reading this series and can't wait for the next installment that comes out next year.

    I'm a follower & Email Subscriber

    Van P.

  14. booklover0226

    “When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue—in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there—her troubles are only just beginning.”

    Wow, what a premise. This sentence is what got me interested in this book!

    I subscribe via email.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 AT gmail DOT com

  15. Linda Henderson

    This sounds like a very interesting book. Your comparison with the movie DOA makes me very curious about the book. I've seen the movie. I would love to win a copy.

    I am a follower

    seriousreader at live dot com

  16. CrystalGB

    One of the best urban fantasy debuts I have read this year has been Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland.

    I am a follower.


  17. Kristen

    Haven't read a lot of debuts in this range this year but I'm in love with Kim Harrison and some other urban fantasy authors. This one looks amazing and would love to read it.

    I'm a follower!

    dragonzgoil at gmail dot com

  18. Bella

    My favorite urban fantasy debut of this year was Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow. It's a YA book with weres, zombies, etc and I loved it! AND Something from your review that has me excited to read Three Days to Dead ws when you explained some similarity to Hunger games pacing and writing tense, b/c that series is one of my absolute favorites!
    [email protected]

  19. Michelle

    I'm a follower. Count me in please!!

    mmillet at gmail dot com

    One UF debut I'm really looking forward to has to be Skin Game – I can't wait to read it.


  20. Emily

    I'm so interested to see how the three day time limit on the story works out and whether the book can pull it off- the reviews I've read so far make it sound pretty promising!

    I'm a follower, and my email is whatbookisthat at gmail dot com


  21. Andrea

    The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay was the best I've read so far. I stayed up all night to finish it.
    I'm a follower.


  22. Sue A.

    I enjoyed The Midnight Warrior series by Deidre Knight.

    I'm a follower

    alternate email:
    magenta 2 red [at] gmail [dot] com
    remove all spaces

  23. micahblackburn

    I like the plethora of races that you speak about in the novel. I'm a huge fan of the 'world building' aspect of UF, so that really interests me. Oh, that and the fact the character doesn't waste time on Self-Pity… what a novelty!

    Please enter me into the contest:
    MicahMBlackburn [at] gmail [dot] com

    I am a subscriber.

  24. Mishel

    Hey Abigail,

    Three Days to Dead sounds EXCELLENT. I just recently finished The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay and absolutely loved it. It's got an abundance of mythological creatures that are both familar and have unique twists to them. I also really enjoyed how developed her characters were. Charlie Madigan is definitely a reason to pick up Kelly's debut =)

    I'm a follower

    mishtakes AT gmail DOT com

  25. Marianna

    You sell this book well, I am always looking for new author's to love and this book sounds good.

    I'm a new follower (I can't believe I didn't find y'all earlier, I love urban fantasy, etc)


  26. justpeachy36

    [email protected]

    I am very new to the Urban Fantasy genre and I'm excited about getting started. After reading your review of Three Days To Dead, I definitely think it is something I'd like.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

  27. Heather Carleton

    I'm really looking forward to reading this book – I'm a sucker for a tough heroine and star-crossed romance which it sounds like this book delivers..

    Please sign me up for the giveaway – I'm an e-mail follower..


  28. Kimberly S

    Just finished Better part of Darkness by Kelly Gay and loved it. I can not wait to read the next one.

    Three Days to Dead sounds good. I like the whole Owlkin idea and I think I will grab a copy.

    [email protected]

  29. cait045

    I want to read this book because the main character sounds great. "Evy Stone is my kind of girl. She's tough, resourceful, and most importantly resilient."

    Im a follower

  30. Bethie

    Please enter me. Thanks for the giveaway. I follow.

    I really liked City of Bones.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  31. Incendiary Lover

    The paranormal genre is booming and there are so many debuts to choose from! I just finished Grave Witch by Kaylayna Price… and really enjoyed it! Alex has a very unique talent and I cant wait to read her second in the series.