~~Moved from GR~~
Greywalker (Greywalker #1)
by Kat Richardson
In a genre increasingly oversaturated with vampires, werewolves, and intrepid female PIs, I think Richardson still manages to bring a significant amount of novelty to her story. Harper Blaine is a standard PI when one of her clients, in a bout of irritation, shoves her down the elevator. Although clinically dead for two minutes, Harper is soon revived and back to work--and that's when things start getting strange. After her (extremely) near-death experience, Harper has developed the ability to see into the Grey, the purgatory-like world in between reality and the afterlife where vampires, ghosts, and various creepy critters lurk. Unfortunately for Harper, the creatures of the Grey have the ability to see her as well. Soon, she has elicited attention from vampires, ghosts, and more, and not just on the streets--they want to hire her. Harper is soon embroiled in two separate cases: one regarding a mysterious missing antique and another regarding a missing boy and reluctant vampire.
Greywalker is a quite good debut, but if you're just interested in sampling Richardson's work, it might be worth skipping over to Poltergeist, the second in the series. Greywalker treads very, very familiar ground for the genre. We have the unsuspecting female PI (who, by the way, appears to be incredibly incompetent at her job) sucked into the supernatural. We've got the handsome older man who distracts a rather significant portion of the book, a cadre of evil vampires, and a child who has to be saved. The book also spends quite a lot of time on Harper blindly trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Richardson's world is relatively unique in that there isn't a talking head (or talking skull, or dead loghyr, or whatever) available to give details on the rules of the world. Instead, we have the (superficial stereotyped) Irish witch Mara, who can give only educated guesses. For me, this actually became a problem in later books as well as this one. I never really got the feeling that Richardson had fully thought out her world, and this impression was strengthened by the rather significant amount of retconning that occurs by book 3. I'm not really sure Richardson has the pacing down to write a thriller; I listened to this on audio and kept zoning off during the action scenes, which is never a good sign. However, there are some fantastically original things about this world, and the ghost aspect is a new angle. Again, the next book in the series, Poltergeist, focuses on the ghost aspect and is written more as a whodunnit, a style which I think suits Richardson much better.
So should you try Greywalker? If you're looking for an original spin on the standard urban fantasy tropes or a female-protagonist urban fantasy with a lot more action and a lot less romance, then the series (either this or Poltergeist) is worth taking a look at. If you're a purist and like to start at the beginning of the series, then put this on your to-read list.