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REVIEW: Tall, Dark and Dead by Tate Hallaway

Tall, Dark and DeadDear Ms. Hallaway,

The cartoon cover, the back blurb and lots of the reviews/descriptions at Amazon would lead people to think this is a comedic Vamp Lit. Let me tell readers that it’s not. There are a few humorous jokes and situations but for the most part, you’ve made this book pretty serious.

Garnet Lacey is a witch on the run. The Vatican has a new witch hunting group and they murdered all the other members of Garnet’s Minneapolis coven. Now, she’s relocated to Madison, WI and is the manager of an occult store. When Sebastian Von Traum enters her store looking for mandrake (preferably harvested under a full moon by naked witches, oh and could you get some that was grown under a gallows?) she knows she’s in trouble because he’s gorgeous, he’s available and he’s dead. No aura, you see.

She’s also having to deal with Lilith, the original badass Goddess. Garnet channeled Lilith after walking in on the witch hunters standing over the corpses of her dead coven. Now she’s having trouble keeping Lilith from taking over her body and turning Madison into a slaughterhouse.

Soon Garnet is fighting for her life. The Vatican witch hunters want her dead but more than that, they want the secret formula Sebastian used to turn himself into a vampire 1000 years ago since it allows him to live in daylight and survive on less blood than most vampires. Can Garnet and Sebastian escape the hunters, control Lilith and hope for any kind of life together?

The vampires in this story aren’t cutesy or tortured by their need for blood. They aren’t angst ridden and haven’t discovered a way to totally avoid feeding off of humans. I like that you make them both good and bad. They are what they are and accept it. You also have them display the character traits they had as humans which I thought made them more well rounded characters.

Garnet is a witch and you’ve invested a lot of time to really make her one. She automatically says, “Oh, Goddess,” knows how to cast spells, has her alter set up and truly believes what she practices. Garnet does grow as a person as the story progresses but she has an annoying habit of being wishy-washy about vampires and I think trusts Sebastian very quickly for someone who’s gone through the horrors that she has.

I appreciate the time you’ve taken to make the story feel authentic. I don’t hang around occult stores or know much about astrology so I’m not sure how much of this is made up and how much is accurate. I also like that you don’t force an all around HEA. There are some plot lines that aren’t resolved in a group hug and the story is more open ended. I’m not sure if this means there’s a sequel in the works.

It took me a little while to mentally switch gears and stop looking for humor in this book. I think the descriptions and cover may lead some people to buy the book and end up disappointed while others who might want a more serious story could overlook it. B for you.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

20 Comments

  1. Jay
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 10:40:08

    So, no humor, hmm… I wish they would stop putting cartoon covers on books that don’t warrant them. Good to know though, I’ll move this up on my reading list. No need to save it if it’s not even funny.

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  2. Kailana
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 12:34:04

    There are a lot of vampire-type novels coming to my attention lately. I could read only that for months and not run out! This one looks good, never had heard of it before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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  3. Nonny
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 13:32:36

    Jay said: So, no humor, hmm- I wish they would stop putting cartoon covers on books that don’t warrant them.

    Me too. I don’t, as a general rule, pick up books with “cartoony” covers because I’m really not a fan of the chick lit style. Not sure why they use covers that are essentially deceitful as to the tone and subgenre of the story. :roll:

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  4. Jane
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 14:46:57

    It’s not a benefit to the author, either, because the reader gets certain expectations from the cover and then is disappointed by the lack of humor, even though it wasn’t supposed to be a funny book.

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  5. Jay
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 16:21:30

    See, Nonny, I pick out the ones with the cartoon covers cause I like those. And since I have the attention span of a gnat at times, I can’t always focus enough to read the blurb (My eyes don’t know what to do since there’s no dialogue!). So I go for the cartoon ones since I expect those to be funny. Hate it when they’re not. Grr.

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  6. Nonny
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 16:28:32

    Jane: Exactly. I’m really at a loss for what the hell their marketing department is thinking when they issue cartoon covers for dark books. Because Ms. Hallaway’s novel is not the only one that’s happened to by a long shot.

    Jay: LOL! Glad to know I’m not the only one who has trouble focusing on the back cover blurbs at times …

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  7. readerdiane
    Jun 29, 2006 @ 17:57:30

    This really was a good book so skip the cover and give the book a chance. I’d like to see it become a series. I think the heroine has real potential to become a ver-r-r-y interesting character. She has attitude and vulnerablility and some interesting flaws.

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  8. Jayne
    Jun 30, 2006 @ 06:51:12

    The thing about this book is that not only that the cover looks like a humorous cartoon but the blurb would make readers think the same thing. And the reviews at Amazon.com mention “funny” and “humorous.” I don’t know where the marketing people and posters got that.

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  9. Keishon
    Jun 30, 2006 @ 08:08:56

    Now, see, I would be interested in reading it. I thought it was another MJD clone. Glad you reviewed this as I had picked it up and started to buy it but had decided against it.

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  10. Michele
    Jun 30, 2006 @ 10:16:48

    I love this blog! Just discovered it, and plan to put a link to it at my blog. Great to see the reader talking (almost) directly to the author about the story. A neat way to do reviews.

    Michele

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  11. Jayne
    Jun 30, 2006 @ 18:55:07

    Michele, you do realize that I’ve reviewed one of your books, Once a Thief, right? Loved the heroine.

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  12. Michele
    Jun 30, 2006 @ 21:39:11

    Yep, I saw your post about Thief. Coolness. That’s one of my favorite stories because I loved ALL the men in it. Yeah, even Oscar.

    M

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  13. Liz
    Jul 13, 2006 @ 23:14:33

    The novel was amusing, but not LOL funny. Garnet dresses like a Goth because she’s in hiding and no one would expect a real witch to dress that way. Her familiar is a cat who is allergic to magic. Etc.

    The marketing department must have had a hard time with this one. It’s not a scary novel, so a dark, spooky cover wouldn’t do. It’s more of a light read, so in that way the cartoonish cover is more appropriate. After all, marketing departments don’t care about accuracy; they just want people to buy the book.

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  14. tate hallaway
    Jul 17, 2006 @ 10:37:27

    Thanks for writing.

    I don’t really have any control over the cover, as I’m sure you know, but I do think there are moments in this book that might qualify as fun if not funny. Yes, it’s more serious than the cover warrants, but it’s as Liz points out not exactly scary enough for a horror cover to be appropriate. I’m glad you liked it, despite not being what you expected. I hope your reaction is similar to others. :-)

    And thanks for all the compliments… I love reading such positive and thoughtful responses. Michele is right, this is an awesome site. I’m going to link it to my blog, too.

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  15. Jayne
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 07:59:41

    Tate, thanks for stopping by. I loaned my copy to a friend who graduated from UWAM and she says the descriptions are very accurate even if she doesn’t know of any amphitheater type clubs on State St. She was still happy to read about her alma mater. ;)

    As for the cover, I like it but it just didn’t fit. I do understand you have no control over it.

    But my kitty loves it since the cat on the cover looks exactly like he does!

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  16. tate hallaway
    Jul 18, 2006 @ 11:29:00

    I had to take a few artistic licenses with Madison, the biggest one, of course, is the presence of vampires… :)

    But not only did I grow up near there (actually LaCrosse, Wisconsin), but I have a friend who grew up in Madison in my critique group who helps me get all the street names, etc., right.

    I’m glad your cat likes the cover, even if you don’t. When I started the book my cat had a cold and I found cat sneezes dreadfully charming, so I had to work them in.

    As for what compelled the marketing department to decide I was chick-litty funny… who knows? A bit of history might help explain a little… while I set out to write paranormal romance, my original editor (who left to work at DC Comics) really, really wanted DARK. We were also assuming, however, that the book would come out from a fantasy imprint, not a romance one. Apparently, after he left, and the new editor and publisher read my complete manuscript they decided I was funny… or at least fluffy enough to have a cartoon cover. They also moved me from the fantasy/science fiction imprint over to Berkley Trade (romance). So that may be part of it. I was thinking Kim Harrison, they were thinking Mary Janice Davidson. A big difference, you know?

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  17. Jayne
    Jul 24, 2006 @ 05:42:20

    So, are you going to be writing romance-y books now or do you still consider yourself to be a dark fantasy writer?

    Cat sneezes are charming, aren’t they? Yep, you can tell I’m a full time cat slave.

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  18. tate hallaway
    Jul 24, 2006 @ 07:38:45

    *snort* I still consider myself a science fiction writer, but that’s a long story.

    The next Garnet Lacey book, which I just sent in has, once again, it’s horror moments. I can’t seem to help being a bit dark. Even so, the cover is going to be cartoony again. I don’t seem to be able to change that (and, honestly, given how well the book seems to be doing, I’m not sure I want to.)

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  19. Diane
    Mar 19, 2008 @ 13:39:41

    Hi Tate,
    I don’t care what kind of covers the publisher puts on your books–I will buy and read them anyway, because I really, really like them, and I certainly have no problem with a mixture of darkness and humor. I prefer Kim Harrison vs. Mary Janice Davidson, so think you’re going in the right direction and am looking forward to Garnet’s future adventures!

    My two cat masters are curled up sleeping in the chair next to me, and Shady the Korat is making the most delightful little cat snores, which I find even more charming than the sneezes ;-D

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  20. Jayne
    Mar 19, 2008 @ 14:07:19

    Diane, I’m sitting here, writing another review with my cat master lounging in my lap. Oh, he’s awake and demanding attention. Must obey! >^-^<

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