Genre: urban fantasy
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 jeans – nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigation 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 a 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 who wields a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life … and her soul.
Alex Craft is a grave witch, she can raise the shades of the dead, which is something different than a soul, more like a memory. Which makes it very easy to just ask who killed them. The local police likes using her for that purpose. She needs a ritual, and a circle to be able to use her magic, and her Grave Sight. And using her Grave Sight has really damaged her normal eye sight, especially her nightsight, she is essentially blind at night.
Alex is making a little girl testify against her murderer, a first time for the courts, and it makes her the target of many outraged people. But still, a murderer has never been convicted this fast before, and Alex sees a new line of desperately needed income.
Her father is loaded with money, but there is no love lost between them. He stuffed Alex (then called Alexis Caine) in a boarding school at the first signs of her Grave Magic, and barely allowed her back home in the summer holidays. Her younger sister is the apple of his eye instead. When Alex turned 18, she legally changed her name, and made a new life for herself. Living with some great friends in the house owned by Caleb, an old fairy and an artist. Tamara is the medical examiner, and she is great in sensing if magic is used to kill someone, and their other friend is an assistant District Attorney.
The book starts at a funeral home, where Alex is raising the shade of a dead man, to talk to his son. Unfortunately, the father did not answer the question his son asked, about his fortune, and now the son refuses to pay Alex. And things do not get better when Death shows up. When the son dies of a heart attack, and Death claims his sole, the widow accuses Alex of killing him. Which is of course not true, but still, it detains Alex for many hours until everything is cleared up. Luckily, Tamara can quickly conform that this was a death by natural cause.
To her own surprise, Alex is called by her sister, Casey. The body of a disappeared politician has been found, and Casey wants Alex to raise his shade and find out what happened to him. Coleman was a political ally to their father, who is an important member of Humans First.
Alex reluctantly accepts the job, she never was close to her sister, and can’t imagine her life anymore, beloved debutante and hostess for her father.
So she asks her police contact, John Matthews, one of the detectives in homicide for a favor, letting her see Colemans body, even though it is not his case. But John wants a favor in return, asking her to raise the shade of a badly tortured young woman they found that night in a dumpster and Alex agrees. Even though raising three shades in one day is a heavy tax on her eyesight and energy.
And then things go horribly wrong. The shade of the young girl comes out screaming and fighting, and she scratches Alex badly on her shoulder. She cannot control the shade at all. But she does recognize Bethany. She uses a lot of her Grave Magic to put the shade back in the body, and then goes to work on Coleman. But there is nothing to raise. Like the body was never alive. And what is with the strange glyphs on the body? Only, no one else can see them. Except for the strangely strong ghost Roy who hangs around the body, claiming it used to be his and Coleman stole it from him 12 years ago.
Then a new and unknown detective arrives in the morgue, kicking her out. What is she doing, fooling around with his case without his knowledge? Exciting the morgue, they are faced with a mob of reporters, wanting to know what she got out of Coleman. How did they know she was there in the first place? And then someone shoots at Alex, and Death is there to push her out of the way of the bullet, which then hits John. Of course Death does not appear on film, and she is taken in for interrogation. How did she know to dive down the stairs? What did she see? But of course Alex knows nothing, and finally they have to let her go. John is still in the hospital, in a coma.
When Death arrives in her apartment, he does not tell her much. But he does tell her, that the scratches the shade gave her, are a magical infection, and it will kill her if she does not find out who is behind this all and kills him or her.
The next day Falin, the angry detective, arrives at her apartment, barging straight inside and starts questioning her again about Coleman. The strange thing is, he believes her. They will have to start working together to find out the truth.
What happens next is a fast paced story, filled with action and magic and strange discoveries. Sometimes scary. But with the help of Roy the ghost, Falin and Alex will find out what has happened, and put a stop to Coleman’s plans.
I liked Alex, she is independent, and does not know what it means to give up. She is smart and resourceful, and she barges headfirst into danger. She is a Grave Witch, and she has no choice but to use the magic regularly, or the magic will take over.
And then there is Falin, who is sometimes a great character, and sometimes a jackass, and he seems genuinely to fall for Alex, but when she finds out the truth about who and what he is, she is not happy. And last but certainly not least, there is Death. One of the collectors of souls, and he has fallen in love with Alex for real, saving her life a few times. What is she to think of that? When she touches him, he can drink coffee and eat human food.
The plot is really good, but also the things Alex discovers about her own family and her history, are mind blowing. No way could the reader have seen that coming! There is humor in this book, and of course some love scenes. I want to find out more about her friends, and the Fae. And there is a stone gargoyle statue named Fred, who wanders the yard, talking to Alex telepathically. And Alex has a naked dog, named PC. Which is short for Prince Charming.
I liked the ending of the especially.
I am really looking forward to the next books in this series, and finding out more about this very neat world Kalayna Price has invented.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian