Narrator: Emily Durante
Series: Alex Craft #1
Published by Roc, Tantor Audio on April 18, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 10 hours 3 minutes
You ever buy a book and then forget you bought it? And then when you do remember you bought it, you forget why? Well, that’s what happened with Grave Witch. And as a result, it sat in my Audible library for about a year and a half, unread. I can’t tell you how frustrated I am with myself for letting that happen, because Grave Witch was everything I love in Urban Fantasy – a solid world with fascinating, unique and well explained magical systems. A strong, gets-herself-into-loads-of-trouble heroine, good friends, great mystery, and the fae!
Not even death can save her now. As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead---she's even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she's seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she's raising a "shade" involved in a high-profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn't want her to know what the dead have to say, and she'll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why.
I was pretty much instantly hooked on Grave Witch. When the story opens, Alex Craft has just finished raising a shade – a person’s memory that remains attached to the body after death without their soul and emotions – for a client. A client who is unhappy with how the ritual went and doesn’t want to pay her. As she’s trying to get her fee, she sees Death – at least that’s what she calls the Soul Collector she’s had a crush on since she was a young girl – and yeah, he’s there to collect the soul of the man she’s trying to get her money from. That’s the kind of luck Alex has. The bad kind.
So yeah, I kind of loved Alex immediately. A girl who’s splitting a pickle – the only food left in her fridge – with her dog is the sort of girl I can totally relate to and would love to be friends with. That she calls her dog P.C., short for “Prince Charming” is just another sign I’d love her. And we haven’t even gotten to her abilities.
Alex is what’s called a Weird Witch – she has abilities that aren’t about casting spells, but are natural and unavoidable. The majority of witches are just humans with the ability to harness magic and perform spells. Alex actually kinda sucks at that kind of magic. But she’s a bad ass grave witch and sensitive. Being a sensitive just means she can see through spells – she knows when someone is wearing a charm and what it’s for. She can feel and SEE (with her other sight) magic. Being a grave witch allows Alex to SEE the world of the dead. She can SEE ghosts. She can SEE soul collectors (like Death) and she can raise shades. She happens to have some extraordinary abilities even for a grave witch, but I’ll let you read to figure those out.
But Alex is not really your kick ass heroine. She’s very vulnerable because her magic takes a toll. The more time she spends SEEING the land of the dead, letting her grave essence work, the colder her body temperature gets and the longer it will take her to fully recover her eyesight. She’s always almost completely night-blind and after rituals she at least needs glasses to see clearly, and that’s on a good day. I love this kind of complexity in my magic systems and it totally carried over to the world building. I never felt like I was getting an info dump, but I also never felt lost about this world. Everything is constructed to so well and seamlessly into the plot. In this world, about 70 years ago the Fae came “out of the Mushroom Ring” – that is, told humans about their existence – because humans had stopped believing in the Fae. Without belief, they were ceasing to exist. Them coming out led to discoveries of other magic users as well as whole areas of the world that had been hidden because of disbelief/fae glamour. Freaking cool right? There’s lots of little details, but you just need to read it to savor them all. Trust me!
Relationships play a really big part in Grave Wtich as well – from family ties, to friendships, and of course the men. I have to say I loved every single aspect of each relationship dynamic. The family situation is truly complex – but basically, Alex was disowned by her father when she couldn’t hide her abilities. She was shipped off to witch school and eventually changed her name from Alexis Crane to Alex Craft. Oh and for shits and giggles, her father is Lt. Governor of Necros (where they live, one of those rediscovered areas) and a representative of the Humans First Party —> READ: The party that doesn’t like Fae or Witches. So yeah, lots of warm family feelings. The friends are Alex’s TRUE family and I just love seeing those kinds of friendships in my books. There’s disagreement but there’s also solidarity and trust that just makes me smile.
The men… okay, so we do have a dreaded love triangle going on here, but to tell you the truth, it doesn’t bother me one bit. You’ve got Death – soul collector – and Falin Andrews – annoying new-to-Necros cop that won’t leave Alex alone. They’re both bad boys in their own ways, which is fun. They’re both full of secrets. They’re both sexy as hell. And as of right now, I’m kinda rooting more for Falin, but really wouldn’t be disappointed either way.
I haven’t even talked about the mystery and action – but if you’ve read any of The Hollows by Kim Harrison, you get the feel these books have. There’s a couple of sub-plots carrying Grave Witch forward, but there’s also layers upon layers of problems and mysteries to solve that we have barely scraped the surface of.
The narrator, Emily Durante, only added to my enjoyment of Grave Witch. She nailed the voices for everyone – including the men. I can’t imagine reading the books now, but I’m sure that if I do, I’ll hear her voices. A definite for your audio wish list!
Needless to say I’m hooked and jumped immediately into book 2 – Grave Dance – as soon as I finished Grave Witch. I highly recommend this series for fans of Urban Fantasy and the Fae (though we haven’t gotten THAT into the Fae yet, we will)!