It would be easy to label Bride Of The Living Dead by Lynne Murray as "chick lit," because on the surface, that's exactly what it is. Single girl in the city, with quirky sense of humor, sarcastic sensibility, and wacky characters surrounding her, finds her Prince Charming. But that's just on the surface. Dig deeper and readers will discover some very outside-the-box elements in this small press release.
Daria MacClellan is an indie film critic living in San Francisco. She adores cheesy monster movies (Roger Corman is a god!), lives in tiny converted garage apartment, and is The Fat Girl. Daria has always been The Fat Girl. But she doesn't dwell on it, and this book isn't spent chronicling her battle of the bulge. No, this book is about Daria falling in love Oscar. Oscar is smitten, the courtship is whirlwind, a marriage proposal ensues. You know what that means? Yep, a wedding. And in a moment of insanity, her parents convince Daria to let her anorexic (seriously, she is) sister whose life has imploded help plan it. The question is - will Daria survive her sister's Type A personality, her past relationship disasters, Oscar's past relationship disasters, and both their families in order to actually make it down the aisle to say "I Do?"
Readers going into this story expecting a traditional romance novel are likely going to be disappointed. The courtship-falling-in-love details are really glossed over. That's not really what this story is about. No, this story is more about getting through all the stuff that encompasses a wedding without losing your sanity - or sight of the fact that you want to have that wedding for the reason that you "love the guy." On that score, this book is pure chick lit. It's not so much about the romance, it's about the heroine surviving life long enough to get her happy ending.
Where the author veers off the cliche track is with her heroine. I loved that Daria's whole existence wasn't wrapped around The Fat Girl trope. This girl has a life. She's funny, she's quirky, she has ex-boyfriends, she's had sex (!) ::gasp::, and she has friends. Certainly her weight is discussed over the course of this story - but Daria doesn't dwell on it, doesn't harp on it, and doesn't spend the whole novel dissolving into tears, wailing about how "fat" she is. She's too busy trying to survive the drama of wedding planning.
Another thing I really appreciated was Daria's relationship with her anorexic sister, Sky. It would have been so easy for the author to write Sky as a harpy, and have the sisters constantly bickering. And while their relationship is, at times, strained, underneath it all I never doubted that they cared about each other. Sky's life is a mess, and she can be cruel, but she's also not The Villain. It felt like a very real sisterly relationship.
The one part of this story that didn't always gel for me was the appearance of a couple of exes (one of Oscar's, one of Daria's). On the bright side though, these two characters play minor roles in the story, and are mostly relegated to the final chapters. What does work is the breezy, chatty first-person narration, and the unique heroine. If you're a fan of the chick-lit, enjoy first person narration, and are looking for a funny, smart heroine who gets the guy, and isn't a Size 2...this is your book.
Final Grade = B
Pearlsong is a small press. You can purchase Bride Of The Living Dead at Amazon (print and Kindle), B&N (looks like only print), at AllRomanceEbooks , or at the publisher's web site (print & ebook).