Seawitch is the seventh novel of the nationally bestselling Greywalker series by Kat Richardson. Private investigator and Greywalker Harper Blaine is back in Seattle after the the events of book six (Downpour) took both her and her boyfriend out of their comfort zones and to a national park near Seattle.
Harper Blaine used to be a smaller-time private investigator–that is, until she died for two minutes. Now, she’s a Greywalker, someone able to see and interact with the Grey, the plane of the ghostly and otherworldly, and home to ghosts and other entities. Due to this ability to tread the very thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm of the Grey, Harper lands some decidedly “strange” cases.
The ghost ship Seawitch disappeared twenty-seven years ago and hasn’t been seen since—until now. Now, it’s the subject of Harper Blaine’s latest case, a case that has her teaming up with Detective Rey Solis of the SPD, a man well-skeptical of anything falling outside of “normal” logic. On top of a partner who doesn’t really trust her, Harper must also navigate her way through this case while avoiding destruction, ghostly and paranormal threats and death.
You know, the usual.
Delves a little deeper
Seawitch, like all of the previous Greywalker novels, expands Richardson’s unique magic and supernatural system. We see a little bit more of Harper’s view of the Grey and of the mortal world. In particular, there is a focus on the Guardian Beast of the Grey and Harper’s relationship with it (y’know, it being her boss and all). The magic of the system also gets some screen time as Harper’s understanding of it grows. In addition to the supernatural growth, Harper’s physical boundaries are expanded. The nature of her case means that, sooner or later, Harper will have to spend some time on boats and out on Puget Sound, something that hasn’t really happened in the course of the series thus far.
The only detracting aspect in my mind comes from my having read the rest of the series, actually. In Seawitch, there simply isn’t as much development and discovery of the Grey and the various other supernatural elements as there has been in the previous novels. Much of this can be attributed, however, to the idea that Harper’s experiences have finally reached the point where she is no longer coming upon absolutely new things around every corner. This is not a bad thing or a good thing, it just is, but it made the book seem less in comparison.
Thicker writing than a typical urban fantasy
Having just burned through five different novels within two weeks, I became aware of something I’d always registered unconsciously but never actively realized: I read the Greywalker novels more slowly than I do the majority of urban fantasy. After thinking on it, I believe this is due to Richardson’s specific writing style. There is just something about it, some combination of Harper’s narrative voice and Richardson’s descriptions that forces the reader to slow down and process all of… well, all the things (ALL THE THINGS!). To put it in perspective, I can go through one Greywalker novel in two days if I have nothing else going on (including my day job). In the same amount of time, I can go through three or four other urban fantasy novels. Seawitch was no exception to this trend set by the previous installments in the series.
Now, this is not to say that Richardson’s writing has any blatant problems or that the flow is stilted, as that is most certainly not the case. Richardson’s writing flows—just at a slower pace than that of series like Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files or Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. In my opinion, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual fare.
Organic character developments
By far, my most favorite aspect of Seawitch comes in the form of its characters. I love everything Quinton, and we get glimpses into his past and family life in this novel. He also goes so far as to call out Harper, pointing out some of her own character flaws—something which makes them both more human. And that doesn’t even take into account their reactions to the situation and that particular conversation.
However, it was Detective Rey Solis and his family that were my absolute favorite parts of Seawitch. A lot is revealed about Solis and why he does what he does. His reactions when confronted with the reality of the Grey and of the paranormal are completely believable. Subsequently, he becomes much more likable than he was in previous novels.
Oh. And his wife is awesome. Just a heads-up.
Why should you read this book?
If you’re returning to Harper’s story, you won’t be disappointed. While Seawitch doesn’t expand the world as much as previous novels, Harper is still her kick-ass self—and a bit more so, as she is more confident with the whole “taking charge” thing in Seawitch than in previous novels. Quinton makes his appearances, and the glimpses of his past are enough to leave any fan wanting to know more. If you’re a newcomer to the series, you might end up a bit lost at the beginning, but not too terribly. As always, Richardson’s unique system of the Grey captivates, and the sheer amount of character development is admirable. With this latest in the Greywalker series, Richardson has crafted a well-balanced urban fantasy novel with a kick-ass heroine who isn’t afraid to take names, a story that will appeal to both mystery and paranormal lovers, and a fantastic supporting cast of characters that bring an exquisite level of believability to Harper’s world.
Oh, and did I mention mermaids? ‘Cause there were mermaids.
Garrett received a review copy of this book courtesy of Ace/Roc.