Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Look kid, I’m not raising a zombie so you can send it to buy beer.”
Kincade Strange is a 27-year-old freelance voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, WA. Hard-pressed for funds and pulling seances for bored, rich kids, Kincade finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she happens upon a zombie who was a famous artist while alive and whose animation looks to be the work of her former mentor. Zombie raising is illegal in the United States, forcing Kincade to hide the zombie in her home until she can figure out how he died, who raised him, and why. When zombies and voodoo practitioners begin to turn up murdered around Seattle and seem to be tied to her new roommate, Kincaid finds herself trusting no one. Especially when it looks like she is the next victim.
Fans of Charish’s The Adventures of Owl series are sure to enjoy her newest Urban Fantasy series that introduces us to a unique heroine whose voodoo brings all the zombies, ghouls, and ghosts to her yard. This suspense laced atmospheric adventure is heavy on the world building as Charish introduces us to a supernaturally enhanced Seattle that houses a voodoo practitioner heroine, a host of intriguing supernatural entities, and a multi-layered mystery that leaves you guessing till the end. Well written with an undercurrent of anticipation, Charish carefully layers the world and characters, giving readers ample background while setting up the main storyline and building subplots to be addressed as the series unfolds. A diverse abet secretive cast of secondary characters offers drama, humor, and insight to both the world and the story as each one offers clues to the mysterious happenings,
Kincade Strange is your average urban fantasy heroine-low key, magically enhanced, reluctantly heroic, and broke. Her ability to travel the Otherworld, a name for the space in between life and death, gives her an added edge but we learn it’s not without its problems. A loner seemingly stuck in a rut with a secretive, painful past and abandonment issues. Her sidekick is the ghost of a famous grunge era musician (think Kurt Cobain) whose drinking issues are only surpassed by his love of video games. On a current “break” from her detective boyfriend who’s boss made him choose his job or his girlfriend, Kincade isn’t feeling the love like she used to. I enjoyed getting to know Kincade. Her intelligence and loyalty is underscored by her willingness to jump straight into the deep end when she is faced with a problem-regardless of the consequences. Dry wit and an ability to accept she was wrong shows the potential for Kincade’s character growth is abundant.
Humor and horror walk hand in hand as two separate but equally important storylines intertwine and reveal together-why a famous artist was made into a zombie and who is murdering the zombies and practitioners. Both are interesting and blend well together without taking each other over. Well plotted with a hint of suspense, horror, and plenty of action, Charish allows the reader to follow along with her characters as they discover who/what is stalking the supernaturals of Seattle and why. Strong investigative procedural actions infiltrates this storyline, giving a realistic vibe to this fantasy. I liked that there was a healthy amount of trial and error to be seen with no one whipping out a magical wand or has an undefeatable super power to save the day. Ingenuity and common sense rule even though bad decisions are made and failures are seen. The humanization of the supernaturals gives readers a common ground on which to empathize with the characters and events playing out.
A small romantic element is seen though we arrive at the end of it-not the beginning. Prejudice and discrimination is an issue Kincaid and her comrades face daily and this is a huge part of her problem with her on/off again boyfriend. Especially when she has to learn of his decisions second hand. A cast of diverse secondary characters are complex in nature and personality, yet easy to relate to. Some add to the overall bleakness of the landscape while others are shining lights illuminating the story. Everyone has their own agenda and their background stories add depth and humor to the story. I look forward to learning more about them.
There were a few minor issues I had problems with though I do feel they will iron themselves out as the series progresses. One is a standard problem I hate in any story-the “need to know” plot thread. It creates some drag in the story as Kincade walks blindly into multiple situations that could have been better resolved had she got all the information she needed up front. I also would have enjoyed more in depth information on Kincade’s voodoo training and her relationship with her teacher. Even with my questions, I do feel Charish has written another winner.
Similar in design to Kit Richardson’s Greywalker series, fans of dark urban fantasy are sure to enjoy this new and entertaining paranormal investigative style series.