Title: Josh of the Damned Triple Feature 2: The Final Checkout (Josh of the Damned 4)
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover Art: L.C. Chace
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Buy Link: Amazon, Publisher
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Length: 25,900 words/100 pages/collection of short stories
Rating: Not quite 3 stars
A guest review by LadyM
Summary review: The romp continues. If you want more, look somewhere else.
Blurb: Josh Caplan thought he’d solved his home office problem and stopped the Quik-Mart Corporation from expanding into hell, but it turns out a guardian’s work is never done. Medusa has plans for him, and she’s not the only one.
What’s a poor night clerk to do when he’s besieged on all sides by deluded vampire slayers, angry zombies, crazy gods, and the most terrifying enemy of all: a dickish CEO?
To survive this, Josh will have to do more than just rely on his necromancer boss, his hot vampire boyfriend, and his yeti stalker. This time, he’ll have to find his own inner hero to save the day.
Andrea Speed is one of the authors whose imagination and writing I truly appreciate. From The Little Death which made me read all of her other books to the Infested series, her stories made me laugh, cry and pretty much everything in between. Her sense of humor was always a big plus. Which is why I’ve come to expect certain things from Ms Speed’s stories – well developed characters, interesting plot, clear direction of the story, etc. Perhaps these expectations aren’t completely fair to the authors, but I don’t think I am alone in this.
I’m telling you all of this because Josh of the Damned series made a lot of promises in the beginning and not all of them were delivered, at least not to the complete satisfaction of this reader. What the series does deliver in spades is supernatural romp. The three new stories – Clerk of the Living Dead, Plaything of the Gods! and Josh vs. Destiny – were no different from the rest of the series. I dare you not to laugh at Kevin the Vampire Slayer or giant slug whose slime trail is compared to “an unholy bastard child of Astroglide and Super Glue”. After receiving Medusa’s magic bracelet and witnessing its power, Josh muses:
He was like Wonder Woman, only with one bracelet and without the great rack.
The stories didn’t lack the humor or general silliness that became a trademark of the series. However, the characters, especially of our protagonist Josh, and his vampire boyfriend Colin are pretty much unchanged. Josh is his old laid-back and sarcastic self, maybe a bit more daring now that he has Medusa’s magical help. I think what disappointed me is that both men are always moved to action by outside forces. Some initiative on their part would have been welcomed and also an opportunity to see them from a different perspective. As this seems to be the final installment (I could be wrong), the opportunity was lost. I have to be fair though – Mr. Kwon and Doug received better treatment. It was amusing to get a private peak in Mr. Kwon’s life: his embarrassment over the fact that he’s not a better necromancer and has to ask his family for help. Doug is a definition of unflappable stoner, though there is intelligence lurking under his slacker’s surface and I wish he got more page time during the series. The new stories also bring new, quirky characters including Kevin the Vampire Slayer, Medusa’s immortal sisters Sthenno and Euryale, the Quik-Mart CEO or stammering Harvey Mangoat. I was personally happy that Bobo made another appearance.
After nine stories (including one free), the romance between Josh and Colin is the weakest element of the series. I realize that romance wasn’t the point here, but if something is in the story, it should make sense. I still don’t get what those two see in each other. Even the attraction between them is something we are told about, not something that comes off the pages. I wish we could have seen some of their weekend together. Additionally, and this is another thing I’ve complained about before, the series lacks cohesion, the big picture if you like. The ending (if it is indeed the ending) – Josh getting a reward from Medusa for a job well done (even if it will enable Josh and Colin to spend more time together) – was a bit flat. I wanted the boys to go out with the bang.
In the end, I think your enjoyment in the series will depend on your expectations and your mood. If you want some light entertainment with hilarious pop references and outlandish characters and events, then this is the perfect series for you. On the other hand, if you want something more, I recommend the author’s Infected series. At the very least, you should try it but this is, as always, only my opinion.