DNF Review: Other Than by Mia Jo Celeste

Reviewed by Ronelle

It only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh. Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Lord Victor Lowell, the man of her dreams and darkest nightmares, preys on others to maintain his charisma and preternatural prowess.

Trapped in an ever-escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass, blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight.


I tried really, really hard to give this a chance, but I started skimming after about twelve chapters before finally giving up at the halfway point. Aside from the fact that, for me at least, there is nothing romantic, sexy, or attractive in the detailed descriptions of dead bodies, Other Than was an absolute mess. From a jumbled and hazy plot to an author who threw things into the story without actually introducing them to her reader, confusing descriptions, and an atrocious lack of editing, this one was a no-go.

Maybe I was hung up on the zombie thing, but I never did connect with the characters and in fact, I flat-out disliked Victor. I’m not sure if he was meant to be endearing and earnest or what, but he came off as a temperamental, obsessive creeper. The insta-love he felt for Evie was weird and even if he’d been even a little likable, the constant, gory descriptions of rotting flesh and decay ruined it for me. As for Evie, she was very much a Mary Sue, with the critical-thinking skills of a tree stump and the attention span of a squirrel. I found myself alternately rolling my eyes and rereading what she’d just said/thought/did in utter confusion. Is it really so hard to grasp the concept that dead, rotting bodies that need to be stitched back together probably aren’t capable of holding a conversation with you? And seriously, WHY were so many living, breathing men molesting corpses?

In addition to less-than-compelling characters, the writing style left me feeling like I was missing something. I never did figure out what it was, and so the whole experience was hazy and jumbled and made me wonder if I was drunk or something (the blurb made way more sense). Evie’s thought processes and conclusion-jumping were confusing and illogical (Victor saved her, so she couldn’t refuse to get into bed with him…after fighting their connection tooth-and-nail from the jump), and Ms. Celeste had a tendency to reference little things without previously introducing them to us (the comment about the bad magic feeding on Victor’s soul, for example, or Evie just knowing it was called the Gathering Hall). While Ms. Celeste seemed to have done her research on things like the workings of flintlock weapons (we’re treated to that in tedious detail) and the kind of clothing women wore in the late 1700’s, she went on to use slang like “stiffs.” The disparity was pretty jarring. I also felt like her metaphors and descriptions were a little mixed up. “Heart curdling” isn’t something I’ve ever heard before and “Sorrow broke in sudden cracks like ice, a frozen but thawing puddle under a heavy heel” while poetic, was a bit out of order.

Ok, *deep breath* I’m going to get serious here for a sec. When I read that an author, and I quote “comes from a family of writers and English teachers” and “chose to pursue both careers,” I develop certain expectations. Expectations like the proper use of words, the correct placement of punctuation, stuff like that. Silly me, apparently, because Other Than was A. Hot. Mess. Incorrect word choice (“gutted” to describe a candle flame, “grouped” instead of “groped”, “baring” instead of “bearing”, etc.) was the most prevalent issue, but far from the only one. Articles were left out in a number of places and so was punctuation. It was so bad that I went to the author bio to see if she was a native English speaker, which is how I found out she’s apparently a teacher. Look, I get that people make mistakes, but the sheer number of them in this book was unacceptable. Ms. Celeste should have taken the time and energy to invest in a damn editor and I’m actually a little concerned that she’s out there, somewhere, preparing the future generation of authors. No wonder indies have such a bad reputation!

Bottom line: Zombie romance clearly isn’t for me, even if it is set in a mashup of my favorite genres. Aside from that, I expected a professed English teacher to have a better grasp on, well, English. I can’t in good conscience recommend this to anyone.

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Click to purchase: Amazon

Other Than
by Mia Jo Celeste
Release Date: January 27, 2017
Publisher: Wild Rose Press

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