Book: Grave Witch
Author: Kalayna Price
Published: 2010 (Roc)
Full disclosure here – some Thursday nights, I play Risk and Settlers of Catan and Zombie Dice and various other resource-management board games with this author. Since it was kind of a nifty path with some coincidences I like to think are interesting (but I have been wrong before), let me tell you how we got here.
Freshman year of college, I scoffed at NaNoWriMo until October 28, when I caved because I had an idea, and this lady was part of the local group I joined. (That was also the night of too many Oreos in queso [yes, I said “in”] which turned into the morning I puked in a dorm that wasn’t mine and then went to see Stephen Colbert on the quad. Because I have been keeping it classy since 2007, y’all.)
During my senior year of Oh God We Really Have to Put Out a Paper Ourselves, Don’t We? final semester of j-school, I covered Cola’s RoundCon with my reporting partner. We totally got free press passes that I totally used to go back the next day and sit in on a writers’ panel or three, where this lady was talking character development and the qualities of a good computer chair with four or five others.
This summer, I went to a karaoke party for no real reason, met a guy wearing a kilt when I went outside when Journey queued up, and eventually started going to his game nights where this lady came in and sat down and pretended to not notice my slightly unhinged jaw at the sight of her.
So! But the book: I borrowed this from said Kilt Man months ago and had been putting off reading it because urban fantasy and I don’t have much to say to each other.
Or at least we didn’t. Along with Jim Butcher, this story will at least give us something in common to gossip happily about at a cocktail party where we don’t know anyone else. Because this story is fun, and being fun takes it far.
It’s about a witch who can see what people/the world looks like dead. It’s a sense she can turn on and off, and if she uses it a lot it wears away at her regular eyesight, and it gets her in trouble with the police she’s trying to help and the fae she’s trying to avoid while she’s finding out some family secrets that will pretty much change the entire way she sees her dad and his grasp of city power.
The protagonist is sassy, of course, but she can take care of herself and very grudgingly find help when she can’t, so she backs it up. She’s smart and talented but works hard for it and doesn’t even dip a toe into Mary Sue’s used bathwater. There’s romance, but thank the writing gods it’s not the entire point of the plot. It actively annoys her sometimes and is a quippy two-for-one source of internal/external conflict.
I’m not convinced enough to go exploring the genre on my own, but friend-guided tours of urban fantasy have so far steered me into very enjoyable snowday material. Back to the Kilt Man!