Book Review: Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw

“Every once in a while, people say they’ve seen the brothers wandering the streets of New Orleans, hunting down their next kill.”

I was approved to read this on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

If the promise of a book filled with creepy myths / horror stories from New Orleans doesn’t have you wanting to pick this book up, let me try to convince you a little more.

Mina and the Undead is set in the summer of 1995 when Mina visits her sister Libby in New Orleans for the summer. Mina is obsessed with vampires and all things spooky and she can’t wait to get stuck into what the city has to offer and be shocked and scared by it all. She gets a job working with her sister at the Mansion of the Macabre, a house of horrors. And that’s where is all starts to go wrong when people start being murdered and it looks like vampires are involved.

There are a lot of vampire myths and stories packed into this book. I loved the detail of them and the way Amy weaves them seamlessly into the story and the mystery Mina and her friends are embroiled in. It added a great dimension, and had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Sometimes it was hard to know what was real and what wasn’t, and I loved being taken out of my comfort zone like this

I loved the characters. Mina is brilliant, but it her relationships with those around her that really made her shine as a character. I enjoyed the way things developed with her and Jared; sure it was a bit fast, but all the best summer romances are, and the things they go through definitely bring them closer together in a very intense way. I love how Mina and Della (Libby’s girlfriend) develop a relationship as Della helps Mina to understand her sister better.

But it was Mina’s relationship with her sister that I really loved reading about. Their relationship is strained; their mother left when they were younger, and then Libby moved to New Orleans and Mina feels abandoned and hurt by it all. She’s looking for a chance to reconnect with her sister, but it doesn’t seem like Libby wants to at first. Things change when the pair become embroiled in the murders happening around the city and the strength of their relationship starts to show. I loved seeing them work through their issues and become stronger for it.

Reading Mina and the Undead is like being transported back to the best bits of the nineties with all the references to classic horror movies and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which gave it a very “comfort book” feel despite the horror. The concept drew me in and Amy’s writing kept me reading; I have never visited New Orleans, but I left this book feeling like I knew it well. It is fast-paced, mysterious and has some brilliant plot twists. It would make a great film, and I cannot wait to read more from Amy in future.

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