Rhiannon Frater is one of the best writers of horror and urban fantasy out there. Okay, that's just my humble opinion. In the case of Ms. Frater's Pretty When She Dies series, she brings to the table an urban horror tale balanced with love interest(s), humor to lighten the load, and a tightly packed plot with virtually no holes (none that I saw) and lots of twists that turns that had me saying, "Oh, no she did NOT just do that!" And no, her vamps are not the sensitive, touchy feel-y sort; they most certainly don't sparkle!
World Building - Because this horror tale is set in an urban setting, Ms. Frater didn't need to spend time drawing a picture for us of what the world looks like; it's ours. Where world building came into play with this book was explaining what was happening to Samantha. Ms. Frater did a great job of letting us discover, at the same time as Samantha, just what Samantha is capable of. Ms. Frater also graced us with a few more supernatural races and what she refers to as "super powers" for the humans. I really loved what she did with Samantha; especially for one crazy scene at the end of the book (I can't tell you but it is so freaking amazing I about spit out my coffee!!)
I'm especially fond of the city Rhiannon chose to set her book in, Austin, TX. Many times the characters lament that the city is changing and they're each trying to decide if it's for the better or the worse. It's a great metaphor for the vampires' lives. Change is hard and uncomfortable, but to get what you want, sometimes you need to do the hard stuff.
Characters - Samantha, Samantha, Samantha... yeah, I pretty much hated her character in the first book. I never really have a problem with characters I dislike in a book because they usually serve a purpose. Samantha definitely serves a purpose and grew on me. We get to meet some of Jeff's team of vampire hunters. Secretly, I wish I could be Jeff: own a bookstore, be a leader of a group of vampire hunters, and drive around in an old Land Rover. And we also get some new characters added to the mix that only add to the story, never weighing it down. I really can't wait to see what happens in the next book :)
And it truly amazes me how consistent Ms. Frater remains with her characters, especially after how much time has passed between when she wrote Pretty When She Dies and Pretty When She Kills (Ms. Frater must have KILLER notes!!) Amaliya is still that unrefined drum playing, cigarette smoking girl who likes to run away from her problems. Cian is still an ass sometimes. Innocente is still smart as hell and Sergio is a great sidekick for her.
Story & Tempo - Ms. Frater wrote the best darn (or damn?) prologue I've read in a long time! Horror, horror, horror!!! She shocks ya and then dumps you into Cian and Amaliya's life. Brings you UUUPPPPPP, and then dumps you on your ass. I LOVE IT!!! Ms. Frater does that often throughout the book; ending some chapters on cliffhangers. Many times I was like, "I don't want to read about this other stuff NOW, I want to know what happened!!!" But then you get wrapped up in the new direction Ms. Frater has taken you and your dumped on your ass again!!
And the use of that writing method does not lessen the plot at all and you're never lost. The plot and story are tight. You have your twists and surprises on top of some hard emotions that had me crying for about 10 minutes (that's a long time for me and a book to do the weeping thing).
Rhiannon Frater is just a freaking amazingly talented author. Just go buy her books NOW, okay?!?! Her next book in the series, Pretty When She Destroys (Pretty When She Dies #3), is going to be out sometime next year. On top of that, the trilogy has been optioned for film and has a script for the first movie! Amazing! The producer is in the process of shopping the script.