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Grave Witch Cover Picture

Grave Witch

Kalayna Price

Published 2010           325 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say.

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.

The Review

Grave Witch is the first novel in an exciting new urban fantasy series by Kalayna Price. The story follows the adventures of Alex Craft, an investigative witch who can raise the ghosts of the dead – a skill that gives her access to plenty of dead bodies and police murder investigations.

There are no vampires in Grave Witch, they just don’t exist within the book’s mythology – which is witch, magic and fae creature based rather than vampiric. Still, there is no shortage of ghosts, shades and ambiguous faery creatures to fill the story. Vampires would be pretty much superfluous here where their usual role in urban fantasy works, that of the hugely attractive yet highly dangerous and untrustworthy male/female characters, has already been more than adequately filled by the sidhe fae.

The story is narrated in first person by Alex, who relates the tale with confidence and occasional wry humour – her precarious financial and business situation adding a nice touch of current day realism to the narrative. Alex stays on the right side of the strong urban fantasy female protagonist line and doesn’t fall into any of the clichéd behaviour that can mar a character’s credibility with the reader. As a result she remains a likeable and believable character throughout the entire story.

Romantic interest is provided by Falin, a homicide detective that Alex clashes with when she gatecrashes his murder enquiry. On paper Falin looks like perfect love interest for Alex, he is handsome yet clearly hiding something (does the attractive/dangerous combo ever go out of fashion?) but somehow he just lacked any kind of character depth to appeal to me personally – and I couldn’t see why Alex was interested in him either (apart from the obvious.) Other romantic interest is provided by Death (a soul collector that Alex’s magical powers have given her the ability to see and interact with.) Death has been friends with Alex since she was a kid, he’s looked out for and he’s also a good looking man of mystery. To me, Death has something of a wholesome boy next door vibe about him and a depth of character that makes him way more interesting than Falin. But still, Death is invisible to most people so that makes him almost like an imaginary friend and probably not good boyfriend material…

While Grave Witch adds nothing new to the urban fantasy genre – it is essentially formulaic and derivative of the genre’s leading authors like L.K. Hamilton and Patricia Briggs – it isn’t a bad read. After all it meets all the requirements for the urban fantasy genre: fast-paced plotting – check; magical mystery to be solved – check; strong heroine who gains more talents and powers as the story progresses – check; protagonist with confused love-life – check.

What Grave Witch lacks in originality it makes up for with well paced writing and a suspenseful plot. Fans of the urban fantasy genre shouldn’t be disappointed with this promising debut that shows plenty of potential and areas for development for further books in the series. Enjoyable reading – even without vampires!

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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