Roc / July 3, 2012 / $7.99 print & digital
As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.
But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a string of suicides occur in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shades have no memory of the days leading up to their brutal endings, so despite the very public apparent suicides, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why do the shades lack the memory of their deaths? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…
Coming into Kalayna Price’s Grave Memory, Alex Craft has already got more on her plate than she can handle. From previous books, she’s experiencing rapidly deteriorating vision, barely containable magic, a Faerie Queen out to make her life miserable, and a not-so-hot love life. With all this going on, surely the only way for Alex will be up, right?
Grave Memory starts off with a bang, literally, as a man’s body makes impact with the roof of a car. From there, the mystery of how exactly that happened is the main focus. And for a good portion at the beginning of the novel, Alex has all manner of theories to explain it, yet continues to lack some key evidence. It’s a good thing that she and her college roommate, Rianna, have opened their own investigation business.
It’s also fortuitous for the witchy PIs that the man in question was affluent before he died and his widow is eager for them to prove that he did not commit suicide, as the authorities believe. Money and a desperate woman are always a plus when starting a new venture. With swank new offices, well usable offices if nothing else, it should be a breeze to sort out their first case.
Of course, that’s usually when the problems start. Alex is slowly losing the connections that would normally give her some insights into her work. Her position as consultant with the Nekros City Police Department is on shaky ground and her relationship with Tamara, the coroner and one of her best friends, is put to the test as a result of secret dealings with the Faerie realm.
To add insult to injury, both of the men she has feelings for have been ordered away from her, and they’ve both been integral parts of her investigations in the past.
He lifted a hand and stroked my cheek with the edge of one finger. His eyes betrayed his continuing amazement that we could touch, and a thrill surged through me...
The part of my brain still functioning reminded me that this was Death. That pursuing anything would change everything...There could never be anything between us. It was just hard to remember that sometimes.
For all of her boy troubles, Alex’s life is never short of male attention. She is still able to experience some steamy moments, though consequences are never far behind.
Despite all of the chaos in her personal life that has now seeped into her business affairs, Alex manages to cope with her signature snark and plucky attitude.
It said something about my life when a heavily armed official accused me of causing magical havoc and I had to wonder which incident she meant.
Over the last two books, and looking like it may come to a head in this installment, are Alex’s issues with the Winter Queen, her reluctance in picking a loyalty at the top of that particular list. Her newfound skills as a planeweaver and her attempts to control her magic to preserve her eyesight are also in the forefront and the magic seems to be nearing levels that she won’t be able to hold back any longer.
I could still feel it inside me, like I was a cup filled to the brim and close to boiling over, but for now the magic wasn’t overflowing.
While all these factors may sound like they’re colluding to make Alex’s life more miserable, they may in fact play important roles in solving the case. And fortunately for readers, it’s not a matter of an A to B, straight line of crime solving. The elements intertwine through the main character’s life, exposing the rich, fascinating magic-filled world in which she lives.
Other heroines might balk at the challenges faced by Alex, but it’s nice to see that this is one woman that doesn’t take things lying down. She’s not one to waste time whining about all the issues that have befallen her (though she does tend to get easily distracted and wistful when thinking about Falin or Death); she plods on and gets the job done. With a complex system of magic, a surprising new roommate, and an assignment that will take you out of this world (or plane of existence), one thing is for certain: it’s never a dull ride when Alex Craft is around.
Jackie Lester imagines a day when she can make a living as a writer. Until then, she reviews eclectic books at My Ever Expanding Library and lives in small-town Ontario with her daughter.