Reviews on Amazon hyped this as taking a darker turn compared to earlier entries and there was much teasing of people-gonna-die. In the event, the people who die are dead for several minutes before they are even identified in the text -- this was definitely dragged on to Make An Impact. And you would think, given the hormonal WTF of post-pregnancy (I _cried_ watching _March of the Penguins_ shortly after T. was born; earlier just today, I had to fight back tears over a freaking Brad Paisley video) that I would be sensitive to whatever it was Davidson was trying to accomplish here.
And yet, I apparently am not -- I'm just calloused, insensitive, jaded, blah, blah, bleeping, blah. Oh, well.
In this outing, the Fiends really come into their own, as they kill other people and die themselves. Between Betsy and Laura's blood, they've woken up and gotten all apocalyptic, cranky, and anti-Betsy. It's not terribly compelling, really, but it's a plot to string us along and I'm okay with that. BabyJon doesn't make one single on camera appearance in the entire book (that I noticed, anyway). Mark is hospitalized and carted off-stage quite early in the proceedings. Mom makes no appearance. Sinclair is almost a cipher -- which is amazing, given how cartoonish he is normally. In a lot of ways, after the Fiends, this story is about Nick and Betsy. And really, this is the story of Betsy's fuckups coming home to roost. Nick is spending the whole time incredibly pissed off and hostile at her because of what she did to him as a newly made vampire (queen) several books back. The Fiends coming to life reflect "errors" in judgment in more or less ignoring what's going on with the Fiends, not treating them with respect, and healing them enough to become a hazard but not enough to become allies. The Ant haunting her reflects the misguided wish for a baby that, in combination with the cursed ring, led to the deaths of her father and stepmother. Etc.
The epilogue, in which she asks her grandfather how he lived with killing people and so forth (in WW2). His summary is kinda telling: do what you have to do and then don't think about it any more. Is this how Betsy has been living her life? More or less (altho there have been regrets all along). Do we really think Betsy will continue down this path? Hard to say. If Davidson is sincere in wanting these books to make sense other than as a string of hilariously funny Buffyverse jokes, I think Betsy's going to have to do a bit more thinking and planning and bit ever so slightly more diligent.
OTOH, maybe Davidson will just keep parceling out the Extra Special Vamp Queen Powers, 1 per book.