Title: Technically Dead
Author: Tia Fielding
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: urban fantasy, romance
Length: novel (200 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: A refreshing, but slightly static story that reads like a series of short stories and focuses on a human/vampire relationship.
When Brandon Roland’s parents kicked him out for being gay, he turned to prostitution to get by—something that almost cost him his life when he was attacked by strangers. Bran was saved by a vampire named Heath, and during their year together, Bran’s life was good—but then Heath sent him packing for reasons unknown.
That was twelve years ago, and Bran’s come a long way since then. He has an education, a job as a social worker at a vampire/human youth shelter, friends, and a tattoo he adds to annually to commemorate another year without the love of his life.
The trouble with being a very old vampire is that the older you are, the less you feel. Heath is over nine hundred—he was sure he’d never experience emotion again, but he never counted on Bran. When Heath accidentally stumbles back into Bran’s life, it changes more than either man thought possible—and then history literally catches up with them and turns their lives inside out.
You probably may have guessed that I like stories with vampires, so it comes as no surprise that I picked up this book to review. The blurb caught my interest because of Brandon and because of Heath’s age. To a point Technically Dead did not disappoint. Let me share with you why I liked it and what fell short.
Technically Dead is about Brandon, a human, and Heath, an ancient vampire. When the story opens the focus is entirely on Brandon as he goes about his life and the get-togethers he has with close friends that often end up in bed (yes, there are sex scenes with others, not just Heath). We get glimpses of his past as he shares them. It’s obvious Brandon carries a lot of hurt from his past and Heath plays a large part in that. Brandon’s time with Heath had a lot of impact on him, it still has because Brandon ingested some of Heath’s blood and as a result he can’t be with other vampires. At the same time it also protects him and aids his work in the human/vampire shelter.
It isn’t until the end of the first part that Heath comes into play when they run into each other. The story then switches to Heath’s POV and we see deeper into his thoughts and the reasons why he did what he did. Heath is a sympathetic character and it is easy to like him. He is old and his reason for kicking Brandon out is understandable, stupid, but understandable given his age and what he is.
The focus in Technically Dead is not just on the relationship between Brandon and Heath and the hiccups they encounter. There is a sub-plot that involves Heath’s past and a power hungry vampire, which was subtly done. The writing, while good, came across as static. This may be something that is different for everyone, but at times the writing didn’t engage me as much as it should have, while the plot itself was creative.
What I especially liked about this story was the characterization. Brandon and Heath are both very human in character. Heath may be immortal, but he makes mistakes as did Brandon. There is no epic love story, but they are made for each other. Brandon in turn is no sniffling hero. He takes care of his own, more or less. Despite the hardship he faces, he doesn’t give up or breakdown crying. He moves on, knowing he won’t have Heath or any other vampire. At other times he comes across as arrogant. He doesn’t just light up and give in to Heath when they meet each other again. He asks questions and pushes Heath. I liked this. Heath made a mistake and Brandon recognizes this, but doesn’t just let Heath in again. Yay for strong characters!
Heath in turn realizes he made a mistake as soon as he turns Brandon out, but guards his heart as well. He kept track of Brandon, but never approached him. When they meet again, Heath mans up and apologizes. Mesa thinks he should have done that sooner, but better late than never.
The story is written in several parts, each part switching POV between Brandon and Heath and moving on to a new element in the story. It’s not something that is terribly disturbing as it does not take away from the story, though it feels like reading a series of short stories.
What did have me wondering was the vampire turning angle of the story. Many people are easily tuned, be they young – below 18 even – or old. The sick and dying are easily converted rather than letting them die. This did have me wondering about population. With so many immortals running around, they are going to run out of blood donors at some point. Not to mention that the world would be even more overcrowded than it already is. I don’t think this angle was given a lot of thought.
All in all Technically Dead wasn’t a bad story. The style of writing may not have suited me, but it wasn’t badly done either. Despite some obvious vampire tropes, the story itself was refreshing.