Death Blows (3/2010)
Killing Rocks (12/2010)
Better Off Undead (10/2011)
Back from the Undead (3/2012)
Undead to the World (11/2012) (FINAL)
BOOK 6: Undead to the World
As you read the first chapters of this final book you might want to keep in mind this quotation from Killing Rocks, in which Jace muses about magic: "When I first arrived in...Thropirelem...I quickly learned to detest magic. Magic is a detective's worst enemy; it breaks all the rules you need to rely on, it's contradictory and unreliable and frequently makes no damn sense whatsoever. However, over time, I've come to a grudging acceptance of the situation." (p. 202) All of Jace's musings on the subject of magic come true in this book.
As the story opens, Jace is living the life of a two-job, minimum-wage worker in small-town Thropirelem, Kansas, with a best friend named Charlie Adams, the owner of the local bar. Jace has recently been released from a mental facility where she was treated for hearing voices from a television show called The Bloodhound Files. One day, Terrance, the local bully, tells Jace the story of the town's legendary horror figure called the Gallowsman. Terrance explains, "He doesn't just kill for the sake of killing. He kills for despair. In his mind, there's only one victim, one person he's going after. He kills everyone that person cares about—but that's just a means to an end. He needs his victim to die by their own hand. To take them down so far they don't even know what up is. And to do that, he needs to do more than just murder; he needs to get up close and personal with the person he's targeting, to get right in their head. Whisper in their ear, point out just how bad thins are." (p. 10) Terrance tells Jace this story to make fun of the fact that Jace actually does hear voices in her head, but this passage is actually the key to the entire plot.
Jace feels driven to seek out information about the Gallowsman, and in doing so, her life becomes weirder and weirder. Soon, Jace is thinking, "So I'm Alice, and this is the other side of the looking glass." (p. 122) Later, in an even closer analogy, she compares her current life to The Wizard of Oz. Both analogies are accurate in their own way.
In order to really appreciate the intricacies of this diabolically clever plot, you need to refresh your memory on all of the primary and supporting characters of the series. (See the list below under WORLD-BUILDING.) This is definitely not a stand-alone book because the reader must (along with Jace) begin to recognize connections between present and past characters in order to make predictions about their behavior.
Barant has always pushed the woo-woo envelope in this series, with realities and alternate realities existing, mingling, and clashing in every book. This final book (and I'm sad that it is the last one) is a tour de force that brings all of the characters face to face in a once-and-for-all resolution of the series conflict: Jace's final fate. The ending may or may not satisfy you. If you're a long-time series fan, it will give you much to mull over; if you haven't read all of the book, you may be disappointed. Either way, Jace has come a long way in this series, and she deserves, in the end, to make her own choices, whatever they may be.
In conclusion, I'll just say "thank you," to D.D. Barant for creating the always-fascinating character of Jace Valchek and then placing her in the magical, mystical world of Thropirelem. Undead to the World is a fantastic ending to a great series.
BOOK 3: Killing Rocks