Undead and Underwater is a collection of three novellas by MaryJanice Davidson. In it, Davidson has included a crossover story with Queen Betsy and Fred the Mermaid, a grown-up Lara Wyndham, and a character I've never read about before, Hailey Derry. While I love Queen Betsy and the Undead books, I've been interested in reading something different by Davidson and more about the world of the Wyndham werewolves and Fred the Mermaid.
Hailey is great (aka It Girl - a name she hates) and has an unusual power. She doesn't wear a cape or have a crafted persona. She just does what's right, what needs to be done. I love where Hailey works; her office has its own personality. If Davidson ever writes more about Hailey, I feel like she'll need to flush out that company and its CEO a little more. Even with the unanswered questions, I really enjoyed the story. I felt like we were getting a peak into Hailey's life. I appreciated that Hailey wasn't just a copy of Betsy. She talked "a mile a minute", but before Linus, she felt like she had no one to talk to. Unlike Betsy, from the beginning, she puts others first. She has no life except for her Human Resources job and saving people. She owns her gifts. She makes excuses at work, but the end is no surprise. I wish I could know more about Hailey's minions, who love her and want her to be happy. For a novella, it was good, with just enough mystery that will make readers want more.
Undead and Underwater
Will there be more Betsy and Fred crossover? Because I think I would enjoy that. Betsy has changed the way Fred thinks about the world. With both of these characters, having them change in any way affects how they deal with the problems that come up in their stories. It is Betsy that has kept me reading the Undead series and who influenced me to pick up a trilogy about mermaids. I think Fred is seeing Betsy the way her friends and other strangers don't, maybe because of her unique perspective.
In Undead and Underwater, Betsy and Fred accidentally come together because they were asked to help the same person. At first Fred can't stand Betsy, which is understandable for anyone who's read any of the Undead books, but she sees the way that Betsy is willing to help Madeline, a human and someone she doesn't know. Fred reluctantly gets to know Betsy. You can feel a lot of different things towards the reluctant vampire Queen, she's ditzy but likable, self-centered but fierce. Betsy is often perfectly put together, but in a flash, she can also be covered with someone else's blood. Fred knows that Betsy is someone she never wants to piss off and never wants to lose track of. Those final lines of the Undead and Underwater novella make me think that Fred and Betsy will come together again. There are Undead novels I have yet to read and one or two more yet to be published and I am excited to see what Davidson has in store for them.
I really enjoyed Incomer it might be my favorite of the three stories. Incomer is about Lara the daughter of Michael Wyndham and new Pack leader. The story takes place in near the future, when Lara assumes leadership of the Pack. Incomer is about her first day, her first challenge and becoming an adult. I loved her brother, Sean and I loved Jack. It was nice to know what happened to Derik and Sara after Derik's Bane. I appreciate that there wasn't the typical werewolf fight to the death. Laura, after taking on her father's mantle, is also continuing Michael's new tradition of excepting change. When Lara addresses the challenge in an unusual way, the result is unexpected. I appreciate the unexpected, especially when using familiar stories, like werewolf fight to the death or challenge for leadership.
I also really liked Davidson's vision of technology in the future. It's only about 20 years, but foldable iPads sound awesome, though even if our homes get wired to the Cloud, I think some of the young folk will know what iPhones are, because their parents had one. I loved the glimpses of future Queen Betsy and future Fred. They're the same, but older. They might give Lara a hard time, but they are loyal and seem to have genuine concern for her well-being. Betsy seems to be at home, still with Sinclair, living life, trying not to turn evil. Fred is in the Caspian Sea, the seat of power for the Undersea Folk, with kids. How did she end up in the Caspian Sea when she loved Boston? I think more than Betsy, I have questions about Fred.
I enjoyed getting to be in the Pack and experiencing it through their perspective. There have only been two Wyndam Werewolves novels, the rest have been short stories, most of which I don't think I've read. Neither of the novels took place in Cape Cod, where the Wyndhams live. What is it like there, what has Michael Wyndham had to deal with? What were his children like as teenagers? How did humans fit into their world? What was the fallout after Queen Betsy's visit? Incomer gave me some of that, some of what I've been wanting to read. But I'd like more.
In the end...
It was a great threesome of novellas. I enjoyed each story, each character accepting their positions of power, their responsibilities. It has reminded me how much I enjoy Davidson's writing and I look forward to the next book of hers I pluck off the shelf.