Downpour

I absolutely love Harper Blaine as a heroine and have done since the first book in the Greywalker series. Now she has learnt what and who she is, has accepted her responsibilities and knows that she plays an essential role in the world.

In Downpour, Harper is still a great character but something happened in the middle of the book that didn’t quite meet Richardson’s usual standards. I’m not even sure what it was, but I found myself putting the book down to do other things or having to go back and re-read a page because it didn’t quite flow enough to make sense. The first and last thirds were great and engaging but something just floundered in the middle.  There is a mystery over Quinton’s behaviour which seemed to come out of nowhere, and for a short while it felt like we were seeing a different character entirely. Perhaps that was intended but it didn’t quite work for me.

The plot itself was interesting, with a good mystery to solve and I liked that Harper had to resort to more mundane things during the investigation after her last death had reduced her abilities in the Grey. One of the risks when a powerful character keeps gaining strength is that the setting also has to become more powerful or it would be too easy for things to be resolved. I’ve seen this happen before in books and I’m glad the author not only chose to bring Harper back to her more human roots, but also created a believable reason for doing so.

The relationship between Harper and Quinton has been one I’ve enjoyed since they got together but in Downpour, Kat Richardson did have me worried at first. I think again, it wasn’t until the last third of the book before the relationship began to feel natural again.  However, the events that finally unfolded were very sweet and made me happy.

I also liked the resolution on previous plot threads from earlier books and I’m glad they were pretty much a footnote (but a well handled one) rather than tangled in with the main plot.

All in all I enjoyed Downpour and was glad I struggled through, but it is not a book up to Kat Richardson’s usual standards. It has not put me off though and I will definitely be reading the next book.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kat Richardson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Underground

Harper Blaine might be getting more used to living with the Grey in her life, but she’s still unsure what it all means, and why she of all people, had become a Greywalker when she’d died for those two minutes.  While still working as a private detective, she accepts that her unique talents mean her clients aren’t always of the human variety any more.

Bodies of some of the homeless who gather in Seattle’s Pioneer Square have been turning up, and more are missing.  The mysterious Quinton that has worked with her in the past, comes to her for help.  Not only were they friends of his, but he might also be implicated in the deaths.  He lets her into his life and shows her a side of Seattle that she’d never known existed.  The underground world of old Seattle, lost and forgotten when the city had been rebuilt.  Harper has to solve the puzzle that not only involves her new life, but the odd zombie as well.  With Will’s surprise visit from England, it’s getting harder to keep him separate from the supernatural part of her life, and needs to make the choice to include him in it, before the decision is forced on her.

Here in Underground, we see a ramping up of threads that started in the first book, Greywalker.  Kat introduced some very subtle threads in Greywalker, and they remained almost background information until they started coming together into a knot and are now headed towards something extremely serious.  I felt for Will and while I understood his reaction to the reality of Harper’s life I did also want to smack him.

Quinton’s character really came out in this novel and Kat superbly snuck him into my heart alongside Harper.  I also want a ferret after reading this series, thanks to Chaos and Richardson!

It’s obvious how much historical research has gone into this book, and that provides excellent support for already great characters.  Two specific elements stood out for me.  Firstly, the underground old Seattle fascinated me so much I ended up spending a few hours on the web looking at it.  The other aspect was the First Nations involvement, this was something I didn’t expect but made perfect sense in the end.

The third book in the Harper Blaine series is an intriguing mix of history, imagination and great writing.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kat Richardson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Poltergeist

Trying to come to terms with the changes in her life,  Harper Blaine continues to make a living as a private investigator, but finds not all of her clients are of the human variety.

Hired to investigate who could be the saboteur in an experimental seance team at a University, Harper is quickly sure of one thing after the death of one of the team members.  There may be a human at the source, but the phenomenon is definitely not natural.

After enjoying Greywalker so much, I was a little worried how the second book in the series would match up.  I was really pleased to find it matched very well.  Harper is just a great character; feisty, determined and capable of being as big a pain in the ass as she needs to be, to get the job done.

She is a rare character that feels very real, rather than larger than life.  She has flaws, isn’t infallible and flounders as she is learning about the Grey and what impact that has on her.  There is no great source she can go to, learn it all and become an expert.  I love that she gets some guidance from her friends Mara and Ben, but even that is sometimes hypothetical guesswork.

The plot in Poltergeist is actually quite simple but very good and the seance experiment itself is fascinating, especially with the research that Kat Richardson did to back it up, then adapt it to her ‘world’.

I’ve mentioned Mara and Ben already but they really are great secondary characters.  Quinton I’m liking a lot and hoping he becomes part of the regular cast, there is just something about him.  Will doesn’t play as big a role in this book, mainly because he is out of the country and doing the long distance relationship with Harper.  As he doesn’t know about the other side of her life, it will be interesting what happens when he does find out.

A great follow up to Greywalker and can’t wait to see what is in store for Harper next!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kat Richardson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Greywalker

Harper Blaine is a private detective in seattle, just trying to make a living.   Her life changes forever when a client attacks her and she dies for two minutes.  Those two minutes were long enough to make her a Greywalker, someone who can see things from the Grey, the space in between life and death where monsters and creatures of myth exist.  Now they can see her too.

Having already read and enjoyed Vanished (book four of the Greywalker series), I had been meaning to get the first three, so I could find out what had happened to make Harper a Greywalker in the first place.  Thanks to the kindness of friends and some tokens for christmas, I have them now!

I was really glad to see my impressions of Harper in Vanished were begun in this first book.  She starts off as an ordinary if gutsy woman, making a living being a private investigator.  Her life is changed forever after a client attacks her and she dies for two minutes.  What she comes back as, is something more than human.

She is a fantastic character and I love that while she can kick ass if she is in a situation she knows, throughout the book she is thrown more and more off balance, trying to deal with her world changing drastically around her.  She reacts how I imagine a normal person would.  Fear, denial and anger are just a few of the dominant emotions that she has in abundance and yet she is tenacious enough to try and do her job to the best of her ability in spite of what is happening to her.  Her guts and intelligence are what get her through it all at the end of the day, not supernatural strength, speed or powerful abilities.

The supporting cast were really good too, well created and written.  They matched Harper for her ‘realness’, even if they aren’t all human either.  In particular Mara, Ben, Will and Cameron were the best for me, as emotional and solid as they were funny.  The not so nice guys were also well done, often scary and creepy, which you mostly felt through Harper.

The plot was quite intricate and there wasn’t really a need for a big reveal as you knew what was going on as soon as Harper did.  The intricacies came as different characters were brought into play and not all of them were good news for Harper.  Finding herself in situations not always of her own making, that were very difficult to get out of, let alone survive and her guts and intelligence (and excellent writing) are what made the story as good as it is.

I’m a sucker for a reluctant hero and was also pleasantly surprised that the story’s main focus was on action and plot rather than taking time out for sex scenes (not that I dislike those in general).  In my experience, however, it’s unusual from a female writer in this genre over the last few years.

Definitely belongs in the urban fantasy section and a book I believe men as well as women would enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Books I can’t wait for in 2011

There are so many books in already established series’ I am looking forwards to reading this year, not to mention new ones I have yet to discover.  Here is a selection that I really can’t wait to get my paws on :

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

January

A Hard Day’s Knight (Nightside) by Simon R. Green (Ace Books)
Kitty goes to War (Kitty Norville) by Carrie Vaughn (Gollancz)

March

River Marked (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs (Orbit)
Invincible (Chronicles of Nick 2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (ATOM)
Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood) by J. R. Ward (Piatkus Books)

April

Ghost Story (Dresden Files 13) by Jim Butcher (Orbit)
Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Orbit)
Born of Shadows (League 4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Piatkus Books)

June

Hunt the Moon (Cassie Palmer) by Karen Chance (Signet Books)
Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy) by Mira Grant (Orbit)

July

Kitty’s Big Trouble (Kitty Norville) by Carrie Vaughn (Gollancz)

August

Pale Demon by (The Hollows) Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)
Retribution (Dark-Hunter) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Piatkus Books)
Downpour (Greywalker) by Kat Richardson (Piatkus Books)

October

Envy (Fallen Angels) by J. R. Ward (Piatkus Books)

Fantasy

March

Land of Painted Caves (Earth’s Children Book 6) by Jean M. Auel (Hodder & Stoughton)
Twilight’s Dawn (Black Jewels) by Anne Bishop (Roc)

April

Shadow Chaser (Chronicles of Siala) by Alexey Pehov (Simon & Schuster)

Chick Lit

February

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell (Headline)

March

Summer of Love by Katie Fforde (Century)
Kiss and Tell by Fiona Walker (Sphere)

May

Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson (Corgi)

Crime

January

You Belong to Me by Karen Rose (Headline)

May

Virals by Kathy Reichs (Arrow (Young))

Vanished

It took me quite a while to get through this book and not for the usual reasons of bad writing or plot problems.  Simply the fact it was book 4 in a series I haven’t come across before, and there were a lot of references to past events that I didn’t understand.  I did try holding off until I could get the previous three but finances intervened, and I decided to just go ahead and read it anyway.  It became much less of a problem the further I got through and started understanding more of what was going on and how the protagonist Harper Blaine became what she was, a Greywalker.

Greywalkers are people who have died for just a few minutes and come back with the ability to see and interact with the ‘Grey’, the spiritworld inhabited by not just ghosts of people but buildings, different time periods and even otherworldly creatures.  Things and items that have a touch of ‘Grey’ to them have a gleam which can attract a Greywalker and then use their other sight to examine them, often learning a lot but not always what you want to know.  You can empathise a lot with Harper as she experiences several revelations about who she is and where she came from.  Most of them not good.

In spite of the problems I had with the references, I really enjoyed the book, the plot was twisty and very cleverly done and I have the feeling it has been a long running setup to this point from the other novels.  You cared about Harper Blaine very quickly and felt sorry for how chaotic her life had become.  I didn’t anticipate some of the twists which is always a nice surprise and the character writing was really well done.  Also at each turn, the author had Harper react as you would imagine a real person would, rather than writing a larger than life character that is apparently omnipotent but when it comes to the crunch, something always gets in the way.

One thing I have to touch on is the research Kat Richardson obviously did for this novel.  She lives in the US where the series is also set but for plot reasons, Harper has to go to London to sort some things out.  Some authors will fake it, have some things accurate that they could look up and gloss over the parts they can’t, but you really got a feel for the Greywalker London and you can read about how she achieved that after the story finishes at the end of the book.  That she visited most of the places she wrote into the book, and adapted other parts to fit with London’s history, I really have nothing but respect for her.

As soon as finances permit I will definately be getting the first three!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kat Richardson
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)