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Lori Handeland’s Any Given Doomsday (which will be released by St. Martin’s Press on Nov. 4, 2008) is my first foray into the genre of urban fantasy, so I had no idea what to expect. If you love books with vampires, witch doctors, werewolves, and other shape-shifting creatures, you won’t be disappointed. And for the most part, neither was I.

Any Given Doomsday was fast-paced and action-packed, and though it’s not the type of book I usually read, I couldn’t put it down. I think Handeland did a great job putting the reader into the mind of the main character, Elizabeth Phoenix.

Elizabeth is a former cop turned barkeep who is well known for her psychic abilities. She can touch an object and know where to find someone. At the start of Any Given Doomsday, she witnesses the brutal murder of her foster mother, Ruthie, and wakes from a coma to learn from her ex-lover that the world as she knew it is over.

Elizabeth must assume Ruthie’s role as seer in an epic battle of good versus evil. Her job is to let the demon killers, or DKs, know which humans are demons, werewolves, witches, vampires, etc., that must be destroyed and where they can be found. She’s supposed to learn all about these supernatural beings from her ex, Jimmy Sanducci, but he never seems to stick around long enough to tell her anything, or he’s explaining things while some creature is trying to kill her. Ruthie is supposed to pass on what she knows as well, but she’s dead and reaches Elizabeth only through dreams (and falling asleep really isn’t convenient when you’re about to be killed). She also must take lessons from Sawyer, a centuries-old witch doctor who supposedly is a hunk and teaches her things through sex.

Yes, there is plenty of sex in Any Given Doomsday. Sex as a teaching tool, sex as a symbol of power, and sex simply for the sake of including a sex scene. I was able to overlook the gratuitous sex and the cliche cop-turned-bartender role, but I just couldn’t bring myself to really like any of the characters in the book–especially Elizabeth.

I understand Elizabeth is supposed to be some ballsy, sarcastic character who’s not afraid of anything, but she was a bit over the top. When faced with evil creatures intent on killing her and no apparent way out, Elizabeth acts as though they are an annoyance as minor as a hangnail. She had to be strong, sarcastic, and fearless all the time–there was no exception, and she just didn’t seem real to me. Her only weakness was Jimmy, and she tells you early on that he cheated on her in the past, so I wouldn’t have wasted a breath on him.

Also, I’m curious as to why there were a couple of scenes in which Elizabeth would be talking to one of the male characters, raise her head, and her chin would brush up against his crotch. (This happened enough that I noticed it and wondered if she had some sort of magnet implanted in her chin.) Seriously, if you’re that close, you need to step back about a million feet. What’s interesting is that these incidents didn’t even mark the start of a sex scene.

However, I think Handeland created an interesting story, though I would’ve liked to learn more about the various creatures that pop up throughout. Elizabeth didn’t learn all that much from Sawyer or Jimmy, and she was running blind throughout much of the book. I’m assuming more explanation is planned for future installments of The Phoenix Chronicles. Despite my feelings about Elizabeth, I think I’ll give book two a try.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Any Given Doomsday from St. Martin’s for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2008 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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