Friday, August 26, 2011
Friday Book Review
I used to do the book reviews on Fridays, so this seemed as good a day as any to bring them back to life. I suppose it’s a bit odd to be starting with the sixth book in a series, but since most of the books I read are a part of a series and I had to start somewhere and this is what I was reading…this is what you get.
That being said, it may not be possible to do this without giving away a few spoilers from earlier in the series so just be warned. Ahhh…who am I kidding…my reviews tend to have spoilers in them anyway so I guess this is an overall, going forward, general kind of warning.
And now, the review:
“Downpour” is the sixth book in Kat Richardson’s “Greywalker” series. From the start, I have had a love/slight dislike relationship with this series. On the one hand, I think the Greywalker concept is a fresh, inventive take on urban fantasy. I mean, really, aren’t we all getting just a LEETLE burned out on vampires and werewolves? Not that this series doesn’t have vampires, because it does, but at least they are an unusual variety.
On the other hand, these books can seem a bit slow at times and the magic isn’t as flashy or easily accessible as it is in other urban fantasy novels…although I sometimes wonder if that’s really a fault or if it’s just that I’m so used to reading the other style that my imagination has gotten a bit lazy. In which case I guess Richardson really deserves kudos for being creative and making the reader “work” a little more for the pay off.
So, what’s a Greywalker, you ask? In this case, Harper Blaine is a private investigator who has rather too close a brush with death and returns with some unusual abilities. She can see the “Grey” – the magical energy system that forms in and around the “real” world. Eventually, she can do more than just see it, she becomes able to interact with it.
My one criticism of the Harper character is that she seems to just blindly experiment a lot with the Grey and the creatures that are part of it without much thought in the moment for future consequences. Now, maybe that’s just because I’m the naturally cautious type AND I’ve read enough fantasy stories to know that randomly mucking about with magic when you don’t know what you’re doing is generally thought to be a BAD idea. It usually seems to turn out okay for Harper, though, and sometimes I find that unrealistic. Then again, maybe her “luck” with the Grey isn’t really luck at all, but a part of her abilities? That’s a question I haven’t been able to answer. But if these books were a scary movie, Harper would definitely be the one volunteering to go down into the dark, spooky basement alone.
So, that’s enough about the series in general. “Downpour” being the sixth book, a lot has already happened since Harper’s original “death” and the start of her abilities. The original story arc really comes to a close in the previous book so this installment is the first chapter of the next part of her life. She’s recovering from the action at the end of that arc and has gotten back to her regular business of being a PI…only now her business includes helping to keep the Grey balanced and in check as well as her real-world PI business.
That is how she finds herself investigating a ghostly car crash victim that she comes across while she’s doing a routine background check on a potential trial witness. And it’s not just the ghost – something is WAY out of whack with the entire Grey system at Sunset Lakes.
The positives in this book are the descriptions of both the “real” and Grey landscapes in Seattle and around the lake as well. Richardson excels in making the magic come to life and really getting spooky with the weather and background. There’s a particular scene on the streets of Seattle in the rain that is fantastic. This book also gives more insight into Harper’s relationships with her sort-of mysterious boyfriend, Quinton, and her pet ferret, Chaos. Did I mention she has a pet ferret? I find it a nice change from the almost-required cat that usually shows up in fantasy and urban fantasy novels.
The negatives are that I found Harper’s willingness and ability to trudge around the wilderness completely unprepared for hours (and the local ranger’s willingness to let her do it) somewhat unbelievable. I felt there was some obvious avoidance of the prime suspect(s) until the exact perfect point in the storyline…which then made me figure out who the prime suspect(s) were too soon. And ultimately, I thought there was a point where it got a little long before the resolution.
Overall, though, an enjoyable read and one of the better books in the entire series. And, obviously, despite some of the criticisms I’ve had, I’ve stuck with the series through six books so I do recommend it…especially if you’re looking for urban fantasy that is a little “different.”
So, that's it for my first review. I'm now reading "Working Stiff" by Rachel Caine. This is the first book in a brand new series for her so I'm eager to check it out as I've been a huge fan of both her "Weather Warden" and "Morganville Vampires" series.
Have a good weekend and to my East Coast friends - stay safe during Irene!