Book Spotlight: Review of The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

I know it’s not Wednesday, but I wanted to take a moment to spotlight a fellow author who’s actually helped contribute to the content of this blog. Some of you may recognize her as the person who nominated me to write this post on my writing process. So in some ways, I feel connected to her and was honored to be invited to participate in her blog tour. See? Here’s the obligatory banner to prove it:

The blog tour banner


I’ve made it no secret that I like to give back to the writing community when I can, and this is my way of celebrating Elsie’s success. So, without further ado, I give you my review of her newly released book:

The Undead: Playing for Keeps

by Elsie Elmore

The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

I’ll admit that when I first saw the cover for this, I wasn’t terribly impressed. But don’t let it sway you, this is a fantastic read. Elmore had me hooked from the first sentence, and she never let me down. The Undead: Playing for Keeps is not your average zombie story. It starts with Lyla Grimm, the daughter of a mortician, applying make-up to a corpse after the cosmetologist for her family’s funeral home quits with a horrifying flourish. What she doesn’t know is that her touch is special — she can reanimate the dead. When the body mysteriously disappears later that night, rumors start to circulate.

Speculation isn’t the only thing the oddity draws, though. It also garners the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper/rock star. Sent to find out why the dead aren’t staying that way, Eric and Lyla’s paths soon cross. What happens after will keep you guessing, and the ultimate reveal doesn’t disappoint. Deceptively simple in its good vs. evil set-up, this book is actually about issues that resonate on a much deeper level — identity, self-confidence, morality, and bullying. Lyla struggles to find herself in the face of ridicule and gossip, much like “normal” teenagers do. The paranormal addition is expertly delivered with a gruesome creepiness that surprised me, but it was the humanity in the story and characters that I enjoyed most. The dual POV is strong, and each character has a distinctive voice. Elmore’s prose is effortless and smooth, and I found the entire experience to be engrossing. Fast-paced, but gripping, I highly recommend this book to fans of YA urban fantasy/paranormal romance. In a genre that is over-filled with mediocrity, this book stands out. I will most definitely be reading more of Elmore’s work in the future.

**Disclosure Statement: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

About the Author:

Elsie Elmore

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, writes stories that challenge the laws of nature, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel. Find her on the web: on twitter at @ElsieWriter, her blog, or on Facebook.

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