3 out of 5 stars
Once Dead, Twice Shy was.. disappointing. Maybe I shouldn't have such high expectations, but Kim Harrison's urban fantasy series about Rachel Morgan are one of my favourite series of all time, so I was expecting to absolutely be in love with her YA books as well.
This isn't a bad book, not at all. It was entertaining, the heroine was incredibly likeable (which is quite an achievement in a YA novel without making the protagonist seem too mature), and the plot was fast paced. I really liked Madison's quirky nature, and even her purple hair. Josh seems like a nice guy and is a great love interest and I would like to see where that goes.
It just felt like there was something lacking in this story. Usually Kim Harrison has such deep characters, and this felt so flat. I hadn't read the short story from the Prom Nights from Hell book, so I had no idea what happened before this book. The whole angel/reaper/timekeeper-lore is is pretty complicated, so it was too much to just try to interpret the little information given in the dialogue. Harrison should have included the short story, or should have eased us into the story a little bit more, introducing us to the reapers and telling us what happened, because if you had no clue, just like me, that you have to read the anthology first, you feel like you're totally missing out.
One thing I did like was the fight between "choice" and "fate". The different between dark and light angels is not that one is good and the other is bad, but the ongoing struggle between choice and fate. In the end, both aren't good but not bad either. I would really like to see where that goes. It gave the story much more meaning, and not the usual black/white contrast. Sometimes grey is the best option.
Kim Harrison still is a great writer, she has a great imagination, the plot wasn't predictable, the descriptions clear, the dialogue flowed like it should and the characters are likeable. The lack of detail disturbed me. But for the unsuspecting reader this still is a nice book. I'd say, read it, but do not expect a YA Hollows.