Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price (Alex Craft #5)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace on July 4, 2017
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. View Spoiler » She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet, reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.
Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister magic. When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can Alex get to the soul of the matter in time? « Hide Spoiler
A unique magic system, a cast of awesome characters (predominantly ladies), and legitimately interesting “case of the week” plots in each book help the Alex Craft series stand out in a sea of urban fantasy. Unfortunately, it’s also plagued by a longstanding love triangle and romantic angst and I felt that GRAVE RANSOM was dragged down by it
Private detective and grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to dangerous cases: she’s dealt with supernatural abductions, murderous fae, and hordes of ghouls intent on killing her, just to name a few. Seeing dead people up and walking about? Not that big of a deal. Except this time the walking corpses have souls inside them…and they don’t match up with their hosts. Alex is going to need all of her witchy powers to crack the case before more souls are snatched; she may even need to call in some major backup in the form of other grave witches, fae agents, and human law enforcement. They’ll have to work quickly because there’s nothing Nekros City PD hates more than a case of necromancy, and Alex is at the very top of their suspect list.
GRAVE RANSOM marks a major change for this series, as it explores Alex’s emotional state and her fears about the future much more deeply than any of the previous books. We’ve had more than a few hints that all is not well with Alex – major abandonment issues and the threat of going blind if she keeps using her powers are prominent concerns – but here’s where Kalayna Price finally digs into the impact of it all, and she pulls it off beautifully. There are some major “midlife crisis” vibes in this story, but they feel like a natural consequence of all the disturbing and dangerous stuff Alex has seen since the series began. While not everything is perfectly resolved or overcome, there’s definite forward movement that can only be good for the development of Alex as a character.
Not to worry though, there’s still plenty of fun and snark to be found here despite the more somber tone. There are some really great characters here, like Alex’s BFF and fellow grave witch Rhianna; the badass and possibly insane cop/supernatural cleaner Briar; and even Alex’s receptionist and housekeeper, the fae brownie Mrs. B, makes a strong appearance in GRAVE RANSOM. Price does a great job with the dialogue and general dynamic between all these women, and I was getting major girl power vibes the entire time I was reading.
As much as I love the characters and world building in this series, I’m really over all the romantic drama and angst that seems to plague Alex. The love triangle that seemed to plague Alex seemed to finally be resolved in the previous book, but a wrench is sort of thrown into that in GRAVE RANSOM. I’m not sure if the triangle will be revived or not, but one thing is clear: the romantic drama is here to stay. Which is a major bummer, I have to admit. Authors everywhere, take note: you don’t need forced relationship drama to keep a long-running series fresh. Despite my griping about the romance, I’m still an Alex Craft fan and I’m looking forward to the next book. Fingers crossed that the personal drama is resolved quickly, but I won’t hold my breath.