Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Greywalker

What happens to us when we die?

It’s a question everyone has thought about at some point in their lives. It’s probably right up there with pondering the meaning of life or trying to figure out where we all come from.

What if death wasn't permanent?
Religion has given us a number of theories.  Usually the soul goes to some type of afterlife—maybe in the form of heaven or hell, limbo, purgatory, or maybe the soul is reincarnated and comes back as something entirely different. (Yeah, this is a pretty deep discussion for a Tuesday.) No one really knows and honestly, no one ever really wants to find out.

Most religions believe that only a person’s soul continues on when a person dies; the body is left behind and considered irrelevant on the person’s spiritual journey.

But what about those few people who think about life and death and the afterlife in ways that are not so black and white and maybe in shades of grey. For them there’s always the question of what if the soul was somehow able to return to the person’s body? What if you died but were able to come back as something not quite living or dead, but something in between.

Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series explores this idea.


Harper Blaine is a small-time P.I. taking on small fraud cases and tracking down cheating husbands in Seattle. When a suspect she is investigating for fraud decides that he does like the fact that his stepdaughter is investigating him Harper must literally fight for her life.  Harper gets away just in time, or so she thinks until she finds out later at the hospital that she died for two minutes and something brought her back.

Almost out of nowhere she begins seeing shapes in a strange grey fog and envisioning things that she is almost sure aren’t quite there. Harper starts to second-guess her sanity. At the advice of her doctor, Dr. Skelleher, she agrees to speak with Ben and Mara Danziger, a Linguistics professor at Pacific Northwest University and a witch, respectively. 

Gotta love a doctor that won't put you in a straight jacket when you start telling him that you're seeing things.

As Harper begins working with the Danzigers to discover just what exactly is happening to her and why things just keep getting weirder and weirder. First her office is burglarized but nothing is taken, then she's asked to find a rather odd client's missing pipe organ which was been missing for at least 200 years, to top all of that off she's also trying to track down a missing person who may not want to be found.

Just like that Harper's once mundane life is suddenly not so mundane. She finds that her sudden disappearances and the fact that she can see ghosts so clearly is because she died. Harper is a Greywalker, not quite living, not quite dead but somewhere in between. This means she can fluidly move between our realm and the Grey and it also explains why she can see and recognize ghosts, vampires, and other monsters as clearly as she would see her neighbor watering his lawn next door.


I first saw this book in a bargain bin at Books-a-Million for $4. I'm a sucker for covers and it was the cover that actually drew me in. From the first page to the last page Kat Richardson knows how to keep her readers drooling in suspense.

I would definitely put Harper's character in the category of "Buffy-esque super heroine" but we love those so no griping there. Harper's headstrong personality and take no prisoners attitude is only matched by her sharp wit and tongue in cheek attitude. Even if Harper seems every bit of the badass in the first book, as the series progresses Richardson begins chipping away at Harper's tough exterior and we begin to see why she sort of has to keep up appearances, if you will.

This book does a great job in introducing us to Harper and the company she keeps. I was also really excited to meet Carlos, a vampire and a necromancer, who Harper meets while on her missing persons case and winds up needing his help later on in the book. It goes without saying that he's my favorite character in the series (This goes back to me saying that I typically go for the vampire 9 times out of 10, and the necromancer thing is just cool). There's an element of mysticism about his character that makes him very intriguing. Carlos definitely has some history about him and I'm anxious to find out more about him as I get further into the series.

One thing I will say though, and I'm a little forgiving since this is the first book, but if detective work and mystery novels are not your thing you might not like the first book of the series solely because there is very little "exploring of the Grey time." We don't really find out just how much Harper has learned about her newfound Grey abilities or what she has done with them until the epilogue, but just the same this is probably one of my favorite series and definitely worthy of my top five picks. Another thing that sort of irked me as I was reading the book (that's totally irrelevant to any real plot line of the story): why does everyone have a pager in 2006?! Can you even buy one of those anymore?!

All is forgiven in the next two books (Poltergeist and Underground, respectively) when Richardson really starts letting Harper find out just what secrets the Grey has in store for her.


Look for Downpour, the sixth book in the Greywalker series August 2011. 



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