I've been reading this series since its start. It's one of my favorites, to the point where I tend to give the entire series a re-read before a new book comes out (and I also have all of the audiobook versions, too), so reading this book was a bittersweet experience for me since it is the official end of The Walker Papers where Joanne Walker is the primary character.
The series is about Joanne Walker, born Siobhan Grainne McNamarra Walkingstick, the daughter of an Irish woman and a Cherokee man, born in Ireland but given to her father to raise at the age of six months. We meet her for the first time in the book "Urban Shaman", living in Seattle and working as a police mechanic there. She's a woman with some serious issues regarding her parents and her life. Our introduction to her coincides with the apparent awakening of her shamanic nature while on an airplane returning from her mother's funeral in Ireland, and the series takes off from there. She starts off as a very reluctant shaman, and only takes on the mantle because the alternative is death. This is an urban fantasy series involving the Celtic and Native American mythic pantheons and various other aspects of the paranormal and magical world. It is set mainly in the Seattle Washington area, though there are forays to Ireland and North Carolina in later books. One thing I've always liked about this series is the wry sense of humor that underlines it. Horrific things happen to people along the way but it's leavened by the camaraderie between Joanne, her co-workers, and her friends.
For those of you who may not have ever read this series, the author provides a concise summary of the action in each of the previous books in the story arc so far, so if you are coming into it cold, you're brought up to speed story-wise. But I would sincerely recommend that you begin with the first book in the series, "Urban Shaman", first rather than this one - not because you won't enjoy it - but just to prolong the pleasure of the series and to really enjoy each character's personality to the fullest, not to mention their interactions. You may learn in this book that Morrison is Joanne's main squeeze, but unless you've followed the course of their unusually convoluted relationship over the course of the series, you won't really appreciate how much she has evolved to reach the point she's at in this book in relation to him. Cernunnos isn't merely the Celtic god of the Wild Hunt; he's been an integral part of the series from its start and his presence has forced Joanne to confront who and what she is, not to mention what she will be.
Just a note for those who have been reading the series from the start. I would highly recommend reading Ms. Murphy's book, "No Dominion", which contains parts of the story from Gary Muldoon's point of view, and recounts what happened with him and the Wild Hunt while in Ireland, and his life with his wife Annie. It really adds another layer to the understanding of the background to this current book.
For those who have been faithful readers of the series, I think you will enjoy this book; I know that I did. While I was sad that the series has ended, Ms. Murphy ended it well. Think of the end of a play when all the cast comes out for a bow; that's what happens in this book with various characters from all the books having either cameo appearances or mentions so we can touch base with them one last time. It was good to be reminded of all of them and they were incorporated well into the storyline of this book so that their inclusion made sense.
With the previous book in this series, "Mountain Echoes", we were left with a cliffhanger. Joanne gets a call from her septuagenarian sidekick Gary that is wife - who died about four years ago - is alive. This book kicks off from there, and leads to the final showdown between Joanne and the being known as The Master, whom she's been in conflict with since she came into her shamanic powers. We've known that this confrontation has been inevitable, because it's been the underlying source of a lot of the conflicts that Joanne has faced, that it was the cause of her mother's death, and that it was basically the reason why Joanne was born as a new soul.
Sometimes when there's an upcoming fight with "the big bad" in a series, the actual face-to-face conflict becomes anticlimactic and is given short shrift by the author because it's clear that the author his-or-herself has become bored with the whole storyline. Not so with this book. The entire book is basically the final confrontation between Joanne and The Master, with its ebb and flow highlighting the various other characters of the series. You can tell that Ms. Murphy had a definite idea how this story arc should end, and it's a good one.
I don't want to give away real spoilers but I confess I was slightly reluctant to start this book because I didn't want the series to end, and I was afraid of what might happen, because I've been burned before with the directions that certain authors have taken their characters. But having finished the book, I'm happy with it because Ms. Murphy ended it well, and in a way that was true to the characters. Not everyone makes it through unscathed nor does everyone makes it through, period; how could they with such a cataclysmic confrontation basically between good and evil? Seattle once again pays a physical and emotional price for being Joanne's home. So while I am sad over some of the things that happened, I am happy, too, over other things. This isn't one of those books that you will throw against a wall when you're done because you're so upset over the events, or that you'll refuse to re-read (if you're like me who enjoys re-reading favorite series). Everything that happens does so for a purpose, not on a whim, and I as a reader and a fan can accept that, and can celebrate where the conclusion leaves us.
So get this book, read this book, and enjoy this book. And let's all hope that someday in the future Ms. Murphy decides to revisit this particular universe of hers and gives us more stories.