Author: Melissa F. Olson
Publisher: 47North, 2012
ISBN 13: 978-1612185590
Review by A.E. Hellar
I found Dead Spots through a search on my Kindle. I had been reading a lot of science fiction as of late and I had wanted a change of pace. I was attracted by the idea of a null and the scenario. I like stories of witchcraft, vampires, and werewolves but the recent deluge of fantasy stories with cliché witches, vampires, and werewolves had me pretty hesitant. The idea that there was a new layer to the magical world was interesting enough to convince me to take a chance. This is Melissa F Olson’s first book.
Overall, Dead Spots is an entertaining read that will keep you guessing till the end. I’m an avid reader of mysteries so I am familiar with how mysteries develop. I’m familiar with noticing when the villain enters the scene–but not this time. Olson created good characters that are likeable and that readers will want to come back to. Scarlett is our heroine. She has guilt from her parent’s death and, as a result, she has built a wall around herself that keeps her isolated and safe from pain. Jesse is the cop. Yet, unlike most heroes, he isn’t weighted by trauma or guilt. Eli is Jesse’s opposite and another hero in this story. He has a complicated past but doesn’t use it as a crutch. The Old World characters aren’t typical but a nice combination of expected and unexpected.
In new writers, I find that fight scenes lack intensity, duration, and action–but not in Olson’s Dead Spots. I love action scenes whether in a movie or in a book. Action scenes provide a back drop for exploring a character’s possibilities–will they fight or flee? During Scarlett’s numerous fight scenes, she demonstrates strong character, bravery, humanity, and skills at combat. These characteristics come across because Olson’s fight scenes develop over several paragraphs. This development allows her to create vivid and detailed interactions between her characters.
Olson did a good job creating a love triangle between Jesse, Eli, and Scarlett. Despite the fact that Jesse is the other main voice, it isn’t clear that he will be Scarlett’s choice. The story begins with Scarlett making an early morning dash from Eli. Though her character says continually that she doesn’t want to have a relationship with him, the physical desires she has towards him and her subconscious actions say differently. Her relationship with Jesse is very straight forward “boy meets girl over dead body parts.” Their relationship allows Scarlett to envision a normal life like one she had before Olivia–without vampires, werewolves, and dead bodies.
About the Author:
Melissa Olson was born and raised in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and studied film and literature at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. After graduation, and a brief stint bouncing around the Hollywood studio system, Melissa landed in Madison, WI, where she eventually acquired a master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee, a husband, a mortgage, a teaching gig, two kids, and two comically oversized dogs, not at all in that order. She loves Madison, but still dreams of the food in LA. Literally. There are dreams. Learn more about Melissa, her work, and her dog at www.MelissaFOlson.com.