Plot summary from Goodreads, because I’ve been trying for about half an hour to recap this in a decent way, and failing miserably:
As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around…
To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.
I picked up this book because it was the first book featured in Internet geek queen Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout
, an online book club that features exactly the sort of stuff I love to read. Never one to let a chance to add another first person narrated female paranormal heroine series to my already looong list (doing a rough count in my head, I think I’m currently following and enjoying 15 different ones), I was still pleasantly surprised by Grave Witch.
The world building is nice, and there are no vampires or werewolves anywhere. The paranormal races introduced so far are witches and the Fae (who come in a variety of wicked and devious and intriguing). Then there’s the soul collectors, of which Death is only one of several (they made me think of the reapers in Dead Like Me
, which is never a bad thing. There are a whole range of different types of witches, as well, with different skill sets and abilities.
Alex is a great heroine. She’s determined and independent, and has changed her name and become estranged from her father and sister because her witchy powers would not help her dad’s political career. Unlike a lot of paranormal heroines, she’s not super powerful or the best in the field at what she does, but she takes pride in her abilities, and will unfortunately often push herself to the limits of her endurance to help her friends. Using her powers takes a definite physical toll on her (she can go temporarily blind if she overuses her grave magic), which also makes a nice change from a lot of other books out there.
As well as an engaging, and well rounded (she’s got her fair share of flaws) heroine, the book has a very cool cast of supporting characters, including the seemingly unavoidable love triangle. Detective Falin Andrews starts out as an annoyance to Alex, but sparks obviously fly, even when Alex knows she should probably stay away from him. Her long friendship with the soul collector she calls Death is also changing, after he literally pushes her away from a bullet. As she’s the only one she knows who can see him (and his “colleagues”), it can create complications in the romance department though.
The story really grabbed me, and I hated having to put the book down. I don’t think I’ve been as excited by a series since Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series or Patricia Briggs’ early Mercy Thompson books. Absolutely recommended to fans of paranormal fantasy with romantic elements.