Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Grave Witch - Kalayna Price

Grave Witch
An Alex Craft Novel
Kalayna Price

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Alex Craft used to be Alexis Caine. When she was eight, it became clear that she couldn’t control her abilities as a wyrd witch, and she was sent to a boarding school that could train her. Fortunately for her, the faeries came out of the woodwork decades ago, so those kinds of schools exist. Alex is a grave witch. She can connect with the land of the dead, speak to ghosts, and raise shades. She also sees and talks to Death on a regular basis. In fact, raising shades (which are simply the unfeeling memories of a once-living person) has become her profession. Asking recently-deceased dad about the terms of his will can curtail a lot of family arguments. Or start more.

As the story begins, Alex is about to be the first person to raise the shade of a murder victim in a courtroom for purposes of prosecution. It sounds like a logical idea, but there are a lot of people who don’t understand (or care) about the difference between a ghost and a shade, and find the idea morally repugnant. The governor and much of the legislature are run by members of the Humans First Party. George Caine, the Lieutenant Governor, among them. That would be why Alex changed her name and hasn’t been home in years.

Before her court date, Alex heads to the morgue to help out a detective friend by raising the shade of an unidentified murder victim. This shade acts completely unlike any other: the shade crosses into reality screaming and violent, attacking Alex. That shouldn’t happen, ever. Before she can recover, she finds out that the body of the Governor is on the premises. He’d been missing and presumed dead for over two weeks during a heat wave, but his body shows no signs of decay. It also doesn’t ‘feel’ like a body to Alex. She can see, with her gravesight, a series of glowing glyphs on the “body.” And there’s a ghost wandering around, claiming that the “body” in question is his, just glamoured to look like the Governor.

I read a lot of paranormals, so it’s really a pleasure to find one that is fresh and unique, with great characters and a fascinating story. There are so many elements and subplots that describing them all here would really be a disservice. The book opens very strong and the pace and voice never waver. Each character, even minor ones, is given a realistic personality and history. The system of magic in use is explained and detailed very well. The way Alex visualizes a living wall of ivy vines separating her from the cold of the grave is really a perfect and perfectly-understandable image.

It’s not often that I finish a book and immediately want to go back and start it again. This is one of those. There’s magic, all kinds of paranormal beings, a good dose of action, and multi-faceted mystery. I’m truly looking forward to further installments in this series. It’s a clear winner.

Rating: 8 ½
October 2010
ISBN# 978-0-451-46380-7 (paperback)


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