Published 2010 350 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI until she dies – for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker, walking the think line between the living world and the paranormal realm. Convinced that the man who 'killed' her is a valuable clue in the puzzle of her past and her missing father – as well as a key to figuring out who's trying to manipulate her powers and why – Harper decides it’s time to track him down. There's just one problem. Turns out the man who 'killed' her was murdered himself while she was away.
Lucky for Harper, she has an airtight alibi, but that doesn't mean the police are going to play nice. With Seattle's recent surge in violence - thanks to the vampires - she's already under suspicion. Which means Harper has to watch her step. Because finding the ghost of her killer - and rescuing her father - will mean entering into the Grey. And with her growing powers pulling her more deeply into that paranormal world, Harper's afraid she may not be able to come back out...
Labyrinth is the fifth novel in the Greywalker urban fantasy series by Kat Richardson. The Greywalker books follow the mysteries and adventures of paranormal PI Harper Blaine, who can see magic and ghosts – a talent that serves her well since she solves mysteries involving vampires and other creatures of the night. Labyrinth is also the concluding part of a storyline that started in Vanished, the previous Greywalker novel, so it is vital to have read Vanished before starting Labyrinth – otherwise you will be very confused.
In Vanished readers saw Harper travel to London and discover that she had been manipulated into becoming a Greywalker, that the act of violence that gave her paranormal ability wasn’t just random but a calculated move on the part of an ancient supernatural being, the Pharaohn. The Pharaohn is partly vampire and partly a forgotten ancient Egyptian deity – he wants to return to power and his evil plans require Harper’s greywalking abilities to power them. Harper also discovered that years after her father’s death, his ghost is still being held prisoner by the Pharaohn.
Labyrinth opens with Harper’s return to Seattle from London. While she was away her client, Edward (Seattle’s master vampire) was kidnapped by the Pharaohn, whose evil plans are nearly complete. All that he’s left to wait for is Harper to fully finish her paranormal development before he can use her powers to complete his plan. Unfortunately for him, Harper has no intention of being used – her agenda is to not be consumed by the Grey, to rescue her Dad and to kill the Pharaohn before he can unleash Hell on Earth.
Usually the Greywalker novels focus strongly on the mystery part of the plotline. While Harper is paranormal PI and deals with the supernatural her methods are grounded in the worldly reality of paper trails, surveillance and interviewing witnesses or suspects. This melding of traditional detective work and fantasy elements has always been one of the strengths of the series and the thing that makes it standout from all the other urban fantasy novels around today. However in Labyrinth there is little detective work to be done. Mostly it’s just running around trying to stay one step ahead of the Pharaohn’s evil henchmen and the story suffers as a result.
Without the detective work to keep readers entertained we are left to make sense of Harper’s increasingly confused descriptions of what is going on around her as she is sucked further into the Grey world of the paranormal. Since the book is written in first person from Harper’s POV readers have no choice but to listen to the details. There appears to be screaming, whispering, muttering and songs, combined with fog, coloured lights and scary things with teeth. Frankly most of the time I had no idea what was going on and with lack of comprehension, boredom quickly set in. In this Labyrinth reminded me of Greywalker, Kat Richardson’s first novel – where prolonged descriptions of the Grey promoted confusion and detracted from the overall story.
However, don’t let my griping put you off reading Labyrinth. If you’ve been reading the series so far then Labyrinth is a must read. It concludes the storyline started in Vanished and also wraps up quite a few other loose ends. While the descriptions of the Grey detract from the story they don’t obscure the quality writing – and the fast paced action, as Harper races to stay out of the Pharaohn’s clutches, is enough to keep readers hooked.
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