Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “If I didn’t put on my pants for the mayor, I’m not doing it for Leah Nazir. Or our brother.”
Angela Drake’s father was murdered by his brother and sentenced to life in prison. Angela’s mother checked out of life and her cousins came to live with them. Angela is convinced her uncle did not murder her father and is dead set on getting him a new trial. When her cousin, Archer Drake comes home to introduce his girlfriend, the famous Insighter Leah Nazir, Angela thinks this might be exactly what she needs to get results.
“Hon, you’d better speak up if you want to be heard over all our voices and all the voices in our heads.”
I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of reincarnation and the differing philosophy surrounding it. Some feel your actions in one life will affect your next life while others believe you are doomed to repeat the same actions over and over until something happens to break the chain. Some, like me, believe you ascend levels with each new life until you finally achieve nirvana. MaryJanice Davidson’s latest series deals with reincarnation, the influence past lives have on us, and those people who are able to not only see our past lives but try and use that information to help people.
This series is an overly caffeinated dark comedy when one woman sets out to right a wrong. No matter what anybody says. Rather like being on a Tilt a Whirl, Davidson has a multitude storylines spinning independently of one another. It reminded me a little of the movie Inception with its energy and rapidly changing landscape. The beginning confused me. I felt as if I had been dropped in a foreign country with no translator. Davidson does a massive information dump in her prologue, explaining the various events she references in the story and begging forgiveness for certain liberties she takes. The narrative is on speed and head hopping takes some getting used to. Noisy and peculiar in its layout, there is a method to Davidson’s madness. You just have to willing to ride it out until it starts to settle and the truth emerges like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
“Didn’t Archer kill a guy last month? I mean literally murder the hell out of someone?”
“Don’t talk about that either! Honestly! It’s like you guys aren’t even reading the memos I send out!”
Very dry wit and an abundance of eccentric characters adds to the general feeling of bedlam. The Drake family are a study in chaos and entertain from the first meeting. They are a Vegas act ready to take on the road but as you spend more time with them, you can feel the desperation and fear that flows under their jovial attitudes. The death of their father and their mother’s grief has left them all in limbo. Even Angela’s need to prove her uncle’s innocence unwittingly traps them as they all wait with bated breath to see if this time she will be successful.
“We’ve been in a soap opera for ten years!”
“Not even a good one, like Days of Our Lives. A dumb shitty one, like Judge Judy.”
The continuation of Leah and Archer’s story reveals alongside the main conflict though they didn’t necessarily blend well. Leah’s interactions with the Drakes is well done but the occasional moments where it’s just Leah and Archer present seem random and peculiar. Leah seems warmer and more honest with herself as she acknowledges her own unease about her past, present, and future. Some readers may find it odd that while Leah and Archer are the acknowledged series leads, this is definitely Angela’s story. Her character is well defined and very amusing. Her internal monologues are the clues needed to understand her. As the story progresses, we learn of Angela’s own Insighter skills, her various past lives, and the one aspect that motivates her. Her crush on the policeman helping her is deliciously sweet with a hint of tart as she waxes poetic over his choice of socks and quotes movie lines in her embarrassment.
“They didn’t even move the bodies! They just moved the headstones!”
Davidson wraps up the main conflict, giving Angela the resolution she needed while leaving the door wide open for more Drake madness in the future. The subplot concerning Lean and Archer’s relationship is certainly “unique’ and I’m curious to see where Davidson goes with this. While this series requires some patience and ninja comprehension, I am looking forward to seeing where Davidson takes it. I don’t recommend reading the series out of order even though this could be technically considered a standalone.