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Review: “Grave Witch” by Kalayna Price

Grave Witch (Alex Craft, #1)Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1) by Kalayna Price

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…

Paperback, 325 pages
Published December 16th 2010 by ROC
ISBN#: 9780451463807

My rating:

Read: 09 July 2011

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

This one came highly rated by friends and after seeing it constantly mentioned I decided it must be worth a try. I can say I was completely engrossed and entertained by Alex and Falin’s relationship although I am surprised he wanted to stick around. That’s my positives. It really says something when the highlights of a book can be summed up in only a couple of lines.

The quirky yet distinctive opener, followed by some intriguing action (Death saved a life -why, and is that allowed?) calmed any concerns that I’d made a mistake buying this one but not long after we’re stalled, left waiting for the good stuff to happen.

All I wanted to do was spend time with Death or Falin. Death more-so because I needed to understand what his attachment was to Alex and why he was so close to her when standard grave witch-reaper etiquette states the occasional “hello” when crossing paths is the most that should ever pass between them. What makes Alex so special? The kiss, I thought, was him being playful, messing with her mind so I was surprised and disappointed when he announced his love for her when she was dying. He was cool and mysterious until then. I vehemently dislike love triangles and this one wasn’t even close to resolved by the end. Leaving Falin hanging in the Friend Zone after what had passed between him and Alex was also awkward. If she’d explained how she felt or he’d explained his weird fae ‘I’m someone else’s lover’ status I wouldn’t have a problem with them going their separate ways or remaining friends.

Under normal circumstances I like magic and witches and I understand the need for world building but I was picking things out that I’d read in other places. I know it’s hard to be completely original but the grave witchery itself strongly reminded me of Anita Blake’s zombie raising to settle legal disputes and give closure to the families of the deceased. The race against time to investigate and avoid being arrested and branded a grey/black witch was eerily reminiscent of Rachel Morgan in the the Hollows, as well as the FIB/Inderland policing. For the most part I enjoyed both of those series but here with Alex, the witchiness was over done. The amount of detail about what was happening when she was using magic, the different planes and the consequences was all too confusing and unnecessary at times that I found myself skimming.

Alex’s father mentions ‘The Long Game’ in regards to the fae. I’m not sure if this is part of some general mythology I’m unaware of but it features as part of a long running story arc involving the vampires in the Kitty Norville series. Talking about the fae, they were tricky bastards. Some appear to be good and others, not so nice. I liked that they weren’t all tarred with the same brush.

Alex herself, I didn’t find endearing. First of all, she’s cursed. Everyone around her goes missing: her brother Brian, her best friend and roommate Rianna, and now people she knew from the witch community. She’s also not the sharpest knife in the drawer and she’s a doormat. Misunderstanding clues elongated the story. It was obvious things were going to roll back to her family after the discovery of the grey book but we had to wait for her to figure out the genetic (not generic, silly girl) connection. The doormat thing annoyed me, it’s part of the reason for her money troubles, not demanding to be paid for services rendered but she also has a problem with two tiny little letters, “no”. Just say it. It’s that easy. If people turn their back on you, you don’t jump up to help them move up the career ladder. However, the strained relationships between Alex and her father and sister were interesting to me and I wished Price had delved further into their background and past dealings. In fact, I could probably extend that to all of the characters as they were all towards the shallow end of the spectrum as opposed to fully fleshed out individuals with histories and back-stories but I’m betting that’s going to be developed in the following novels.

The dog, I’m sorry but yuck, yuck, yuck. This goes to personal taste because tiny dogs like that creep me out and it’s hairless -eww, eww, eww. I wanted the thing to die.


One final thing about the ending, unless I’m mistaken and please let me know if I am Alex was dying not just from a stab wound but from the soul-sucking spell. Rianna healed the stab wound but not the spell. So when Alex thinks ‘we won’ and all is right with her world, she’s still dying. That’s never resolved and yet we’re led to believe it has when it hasn’t.

Yeah, so basically the last third of the book with Alex and Falin was the only good experience I can take away from this book. It’s something, I guess.

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