The Qwillery | category: Nancy Holzner


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Darklands (Deadtown 4) by Nancy Holzner

Author:  Nancy Holzner
Series:  Deadtown 4
Publisher: Ace, July 31, 2012
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 324 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781937007706 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher

Review:  Darklands (Deadtown 4) by Nancy Holzner
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border—but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…

Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her half-cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear—in the realm of the dead itself.

Rebe’s Thoughts:

I’ve read all but the second book in Nancy Holzner’s Urban Fantasy series Deadtown, so I was really excited to review Darklands, the fourth novel. From the very beginning I remembered exactly why I love this series so much. The novel opens with teenage zombie Tina doing a Career Day presentation to her fellow teenage zombies about demon slayers, with Vicky there to talk about her job. Chaos ensues when a Harpy arrives and begins attacking Vicky, and Tina narrates the entire fight as though it were a planned part of her presentation. I kept wishing a Harpy would show up on command to some of my students presentations – it would be a LOT more entertaining!

And that’s one of the reasons I adore this series - the humor. Vicky is surrounded by hilarious secondary characters, and her teenage zombie sidekick Tina is a hoot. I laughed out loud several times at Tina’s narration of the Harpy attack, all while Vicky is trying to save herself and the rest of the class. And when Vicky summons an Eidolon demon and doesn’t kill him, his grumpy guilt inducing commentary makes for some fun reading.

Another reason this series is a favorite of mine is that it is action packed. Vicky is all kickass heroine, and the pace of the novel will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. She’s trying to prevent her cousin Pryce from regaining his demi-demon powers, and she has to travel to the realm of the dead, the Darklands, to do so. She’s an expert at modern weaponry but is unable to use any such weapons or shapeshift in the Darklands, and her creativity will have you rooting for her to find what she needs. She also meets a couple of familiar faces along the way, but even if you haven’t read earlier books in the series, you’ll easily be able to keep up, while fans of the series will be happy to see the connections to Vicky’s past.

Then, about a third of the way into the book, I remembered why this series isn’t always an autobuy for me. Vicky consistently makes the choice to act alone and ignores good advice, which always gets her into trouble. That she escapes relatively unscathed is amazing, but the collateral damage is an issue for her loved ones. This becomes all the more frustrating when she recognizes how her behavior in the past has affected her loved ones. At one point she reflects upon how ignoring her Aunt Mab led to devastating events that changed her and her family’s lives forever, yet only a few pages later Vicky is off to face Pryce alone in the Darklands in defiance of Mab’s advice. This foolhardiness leads to serious consequences for her werewolf lover Kane, and made me wonder why she doesn’t stop to think things through. It was so frustrating that over the course of four novels Vicky’s character doesn’t seem to have learned to rely on others.

My only other complaint is that there was a possible rival for Kane’s affections introduced early in the novel, but that plot line seemed to fizzle out and go nowhere. I’m not sure if we’ll see more of that in future books, since Kane is in a tough position thanks to Vicky at the end of the book.

Because I enjoy this series so much and I had a hard time putting Darklands down once I started, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Urban Fantasy. However, the frustration over Vicky’s stubbornness has me marking the book down a bit.


Hellhound, the 5th Deadtown novel, will be published on October 29, 2013.


Please welcome Rebe, The Qwillery's newest reviewer. We are thrilled to have her as part of The Qwillery family!

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

Lots of winners!

5 copies of Must Love Lycans (Broken Heart 8) by Michele Bardsley

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: What is your favorite paranormal being?

1.  Amy who said...
I love the Broken Heart series.

My favorite paranormal being is a vampire. I think it is because of the old vampire movies I use to sneak and watch as a kid. Then I feel in love with the books about them. I love all paranormal beings but I am a sucker for a vampire. LOL :)

2.  Eli Yanti who said...
paranormal being i loved : fairies (ash - iron king is my fav, knife and many more), vampires (edward cullen, viper, styx, layel), werewolf (jacob), nymph (nymph king - gena showalter), dragons and angels.

3.  wanda f who said...
My favorite being is werewolves .\Michele I love your Broken Hearts series Ive read all of the previous books and cant wait to read Must Love Lycans .Its my most wanted to get book of the year .

4.  Megan@Riverina Romantics said...
I'm a vampire groupie!

5.  JoAnna who said...
I love shifters, cat shifters are my favorite!


Paradise 21 (New Dawn 1) (e-book) by Aubrie Dionne

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: Do you listen to music when you write? Does the music affect how or what you write?? or if you don't write - Do you listen to music when you read?

Denise Z who said...
I listen to music when I do not have to concentrate on anything else. I love it and my toes tap, my body moves, and I will belt it out with the best of them. When I listen to music I cannot write or work, but I can read albeit with some toe tapping going on:) Thank you for sharing today. I would love to read Paradise 21 and appreciate the giveaway opportunity.


The Savage Knight (Malory's Knights of Albion) by Paul Lewis (3 copies)

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: Arthur or Lancelot?

1.  Krystal who said...
I was never a huge fan of either one, but I supposed I'll choose Arthur.

2.  booklover0226 who said...
Between the two, I must choose Arthur; he was devoted and dedicated to his clause.

(side note - my favorite is Gawain!)

3.  Barbara E. who said...
I'd have to go with Arthur, he's definitely the man. Savage Knight sounds very intriguing and I'm looking forward to checking it out.


Shadow Kin (Half-Light City 1) by M.J. Scott

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question:  Light or Dark?

Lieder Madchen who said...
Definitely dark for me! I am a total night owl and I melt in the sun. :)

Thank you for the great interview and giveaway, I have to read this book!


Stone Cold Seduction (Set in Stone 1) (e-book) by Jess Macallan

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: Gargoyles or Elves?

RachaelM who said...
I would have to say gargoyles. In the last few months I have seen many books featuring gargoyles and they all look very interesting.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: If you could work at a circus, what would you like to do?

Angie who said...
This sounds so good! Putting it on my TBR list. If I were in the circus - animal trainer, but probably not the big cats. Maybe monkeys or something.


Choice of e-book of Blood of the Demon (Demons of Infernum 1) or Mark of the Sylph (Demons of Infernum 2) by Rosalie Lario

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: Greek or Egyptian Mythology or both?

June M. who said...
I have read quite a bit of Greek mythology but right now I can't think of much Egyptian mythology that I have read. I will have to look into it.
These books have been on my wish list for a while now. I would LOVE to win a copy of the first book BLOOD OF DEMON.


Choice of Deadtown, Hellforged or Bloodstone by Nancy Holzner

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question:  If you were a demon slayer what sort of paranormal/supernatural being would be your sidekick?

erin who said...
I love, love, love thi series! I can't wait for and desperately want, Bloodstone :)

If I had a sidekick, I'd want it to be a shapeshifter who is very strong and fast to protect me! :)

Thanks for the great post and giveaway!


Spellwright by Blake Charlton (2 signed copies of the Mass Market Paperback)  US Mailing Addresses Only!

Many winners! - October 2, 2011

The Question: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Epic Fantasy or all three?

1. Blissfulrains who said...
Epic fantasy! (:

2. RachaelM who said...
I like all three, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Epic Fantasy but my favorite seems to be Urban Fantasy. I love a good fantasy book to lose myself in and forget my troubles for a while. Thanks for the giveaway.


Winners have been notified and have until 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on Sunday, October 9, 2011 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Interview with Nancy Holzner and Giveaway - September 21, 2011

Please welcome Nancy Holzner to The Qwillery.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Nancy:  I'm not terribly quirky as a writer. That's probably because writing was my day job (reference and how-to books) for several years before I published a novel. To me, writing means sitting down at the computer and getting the job done.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Nancy:  A little of both, but slightly more on the plotter side. I like to start a new project by writing a very loose outline that covers the big moments in the plot: inciting incident, plot point 1, midpoint, plot point 2, reversal, climax. At the early stages, I don't try to flesh it out more than that. My loose outline offers two benefits: (1) It breaks up the novel and gives me goals to write toward and (2) it allows room for surprises to arise during the writing. Those surprises—things you just can't anticipate during the early plotting stages—are the most exciting part of writing. They mean that the novel is alive and growing on its own. If I try to plot too intricately, there's no room left for surprise and spontaneity.

TQ:  What inspired you to write the Deadtown series?

Nancy:  Before I published any fiction, I used to read lots of agent blogs. One of my favorite features was when an agent would list pet peeves from query letters he or she received. I guess reading those posts made me feel like I wasn't too far out in left field. One day, an agent wrote that she disliked the phrase “So-and-so wrestles with his own personal demons,” because who else besides you would wrestle with your demons? I decided to take her question seriously, and I started thinking about a character whose job was to exterminate other people's personal demons. And so Vicky Vaughn was born.

TQ:  What sort of research have you done to create the Deadtown world?

Nancy:  Most of my research has to do with the series' background mythology, which is drawn from the stories and legends of the Welsh Mabinogion. Vicky's race, the Cerddorion, is descended from the goddess Ceridwen, who could shapeshift. I began my career as a medievalist (I used to be an English professor), so I have a background in medieval literature. But it's been a lot of fun digging deeper to get more background material for Vicky's story. In Bloodstone, for example, Myrddin Wyllt, one of the precursors to Merlin the wizard from Arthurian literature, shows up to give Vicky and her Aunt Mab some trouble.

TQ:  Why did you set the series in Boston, Massachusetts?

Nancy:  I love Boston. I went to college there, and I lived in or near Boston for several years outside of college. It's an interesting mix of liberal and conservative, traditional and cutting-edge. It's a compact but cosmopolitan city with very distinct neighborhoods. When I needed a setting where people would have to deal with the sudden creation of 2,000 “zombies,” Boston immediately leaped to mind.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Bloodstone (Deadtown 3)?

Nancy:  I always have fun writing the scenes that take place in Creature Comforts, a monster bar in the New Combat Zone (the area between the checkpoints into Deadtown and human-controlled Boston). In Bloodstone, Vicky goes to Creature Comforts on a very serious mission, needing urgently to speak with Axel, the bar's owner. When she steps inside, she finds herself in the middle of a werewolf bachelorette party. It was fun to see how she dealt with the dominance challenges of a female werewolf about to mate while not losing sight of her reason for going to see Axel in the first place.

TQ:  In Bloodstone, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Nancy:  Now that I'm three books into the series, I know the recurring characters pretty well. These characters—Vicky, Kane, Mab, Tina, Juliet, and others—are anchored in the previous stories. It's not that they're easy to predict so much as I'm quicker to recognize how they will and won't act. I guess that means that the hardest character to write in Bloodstone was Vicky's nemesis, Myrddin. Although he's grounded in mythology, it took some time to define him for my story. I had to rewrite his early scenes several times to get him right. There's something crazy about him—being cooped up in a yew tree for 1500 years has left him a little unhinged—but I need to work with him for a while to understand his mental state and not just make him a stereotype of “crazy.”

TQ:  Who is your favorite character in the Deadtown series so far? Has any character surprised you?

Nancy:  Vicky is my favorite character, which is a good thing since she provides the narrative voice. I admire her because she's smart and loyal and far braver than I am. Yet I can also relate to her because she has to make sacrifices and sometimes she's uncertain of herself. The character who surprises me the most is Tina, Vicky's teenage zombie sidekick. She's always saying and doing things I don't expect, often taking the story in a whole new direction.

TQ:  How many Deadtown novels are planned?

Nancy:  I currently have four novels under contract but hope to keep the series going for six or seven books. The fourth Deadtown novel, Darklands, will be out next summer. In it, Vicky travels to Annwn, the Welsh realm of the dead, to prevent the resurrection of a Hellion.

TQ:  What's next?

Nancy:  I'm currently putting the finishing touches on Darklands. When I've turned in that manuscript, I want to write a prequel that explains what happened during the zombie plague that created Deadtown. I envision that as a novella, which I'll release as an ebook along with some other short stories set in Deadtown's world. Outside of urban fantasy, I'm working on a sequel to Peace, Love, and Murder, a contemporary (nonparanormal) mystery that was my first published novel. PLM is currently available as 99-cent ebook, and readers have been asking what happens next. So as soon as I have time, I'll answer that question with a followup mystery.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Nancy:  Thank you so much for inviting me! It's been a fun visit, and I enjoyed the interview.

About the Deadtown Novels

Deadtown 3
(Ace, September 27, 2011)
Interview with Nancy Holzner and Giveaway - September 21, 2011
They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders - but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human...

Boston's diverse South End is known for its architecture and great restaurants, not its body count. So when mutilated human corpses begin turning up in the area, the entire city takes notice. The killer-dubbed the South End Reaper-uses a curved blade for his grisly work. And even though there's no real evidence pointing to a paranormal culprit, the deaths are straining the already-tense relations between Boston's human and inhuman residents.

As the bodies pile up, Vicky, her formidable aunt, Mab, and her werewolf boyfriend, Kane investigate, only to find that the creature behind the carnage is after something much more than blood...

Deadtown 2
(Ace, December 28, 2010)
Interview with Nancy Holzner and Giveaway - September 21, 2011
A demon is stalking Vicky's dreams-just as several of Deadtown's zombies are viciously attacked and become really dead. And when Vicky realizes she is the only connection between the victims, she suspects that the demon is somehow working through her dreams to become Deadtown's living nightmare.

Deadtown 1
(Ace, December 29, 2009)
Interview with Nancy Holzner and Giveaway - September 21, 2011
First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews).

If you were undead, you'd be home by now...

They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human.

About Nancy

Interview with Nancy Holzner and Giveaway - September 21, 2011

Nancy Holzner is the author of the Deadtown urban fantasy series featuring shapeshifter Victory Vaughn. After beginning her career as a medievalist, Nancy has worked as a high school teacher, corporate trainer, freelance editor, and technology writer. She lives in New York's Finger Lakes region with her husband, Steve. Besides writing urban fantasy, Nancy also writes mystery novels. Peace, Love, and Murder is the first book in her mystery series set in an upstate New York college town.

Nancy's Links

Website and blog
Facebook author page
Dark Central Station, a group blog for authors of urban fantasy and horror

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will his or her choice of a signed copy of Deadtown, Hellforged, or Bloodstone from Nancy!

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

If you were a demon slayer what sort of paranormal/supernatural being 
would be your sidekick? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

The View From Monday - September 19, 2011

Happy Monday. Summer is almost astronomically over.

This week at The Qwillery:

Tuesday:  Interview with Rosalie Lario - Mark of the Sylph (Demons of Infernum 2)

Wednesday: Interview with Nancy Holzner - Bloodstone (Deadtown 3)

Thursday: Interview with Blake Charlton - Spellbound (Spell 2)

Friday: Interview with Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire 1)

The 2012 Debut Author Challenge authors announcement has been delayed! Soon though.

I'm trying something new with the list this week. I'm including the cover images. Let me know what you think: include the cover images or lose them?  A book shopping list in PDF format may be found by clicking here. Click "File" on the left and then "Print (PDF)." Book trailers are below.

September 19, 2011

The Business of Death
  Jamieson, TrentUrban Fantasy - Death Works 1 & 2
Zombie Jamboree (e)
  Rardin, JenniferUrban Fantasy

September 20, 2011

The Vampire's Seduction
  Cooke, CynthiaParanormal Romance
The Rift Walker
  Griffith, Clay
  Griffith, Susan
Fantasy/Alternate History - Vampire Empire 2
  Johansen, K. V.Fantasy
Harvest Moon (h2mm)
  Lackey, MercedesFantasy Romance
The Restoration Game
  MacLeod, KenScience Fiction
Lord of Rage
  Monroe, JillParanormal Romance - Royal House of Shadows 2
Cast in Ruin
  Sagara, MichelleFantasy - Chronicles of Elantra 7
Twilight Fulfilled
  Shayne, MaggieParanormal Romance - Children of Twilight 3
The Cage of Zeus
  Ueda, SayuriScience Fiction

e - ebook
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback

Book Trailers

The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith

Twilight Fufilled by Maggie Shayne

Review:  Darklands (Deadtown 4) by Nancy HolznerMany winners! - October 2, 2011Interview with Nancy Holzner and Giveaway - September 21, 2011The View From Monday - September 19, 2011

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?