on 25 July 2014
Some of the Amazon.com reviewers slated this Greywalker novel, and even recommended skipping it. Boy am I glad I didn't listen. This is one of the best that Richardson has written in recent years. The author prefaces this novel with a note about how difficult it was to write. I'm glad she put in the extra effort, because it shows. Highly recommended!
One of the best things about the Greywalker series is that, unlike most paranormal PIs, Harper Blaine actually does real detective work. Of course, most of that work ends up dragging her back into Grey stuff yet again -- and such happens in "Seawitch," an urban fantasy soaked in sea brine and chilly mist. At times the plot moves a little slowly, but Kat Richardson makes up for it with a genuinely haunting mystery.
Two decades ago, the luxury yacht Seawitch vanished without a trace. Now it's returned to port, rotted and flooded, and sans the people who were on it.
Harper Blaine is sent to investigate on behalf of the insurance company, while Detective Solis investigates what happened to the people. They stumble across some bizarre clues, including a fresh bloodstain, a missing bell and a half-senile captain claiming he saw a dobhar-chú (a giant shapeshifting otter) as an omen of disaster.
As they investigate, one person keeps cropping up in the accounts: a green-haired woman named Shelly, who may have been involved in the Seawitch's disappearance. And as Solis and Harper set out to sea, they find themselves in the middle of an ancient war between the dobhar-chú and the merpeople -- and a sea-witch who enslaves the dead.
Kat Richardson's writing gets better and better with ever book she writes, and in "Seawitch" she's in brilliant form -- she makes you feel the cold roughness of salt spray, the chill of mist, and the wild eerie beauty of the sea itself. And of course, more Grey magic in its many forms ("emerald and aqua vines spiked with fury red thorns that rose from the water in a tangled pillar").
Even her sea creatures are strange and wild, whether it's the sea-witch or the otter-people. No pretty Disney mermaids here, just cruel shark-toothed creatures.
There are admittedly some slow patches where it feels like the investigation is stalling out. But an injection of Grey usually gets things moving again -- and Richardson weaves in a subplot about Quinton's dad that hints at further problems. But for now, it's all about the weird Grey stuff afoot at sea.
As for the characters... well, Detective Solis has always been sort of a generic Cop Who Doesn't Believe In Weird Magic Stuff. "Seawitch" expands him as a characrter, with his childhood in Colombia and a boisterous family life, complete with an insane mother-in-law. It really deepens his friendship with Harper, and in turn it gives the Greywalker a glimpse of a very different life.
"Seawitch: A Greywalker Novel" is a brilliant addition to this series, unfolding a strange, beautiful mystery even as it sets up a future plot. A must-read for fans of quality UF.