I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish
Series: Kincaid Strange #1
Published by Vintage Canada on May 10 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal
Format: Finished paperback
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The nitty-gritty: A twisty plot full of zombies, ghosts, murders, magic and mayhem, darkly atmospheric with Charish’s special brand of snarky humor.
The way Cameron’s pupils focused on me, part of him still had to be in there. There was no way he was a four-line, permit-friendly zombie—the temporary kind you were still allowed to raise for will disputes and such. The kind who have just enough brainpower to recite pertinent info from memory, but not enough to appreciate their predicament, so when they’ve served their purpose you can put them in the ground, no problem. Cameron was a five-line, permanent zombie. The illegal kind.
Owl and the Japanese Circus was an unexpectedly fresh take on urban fantasy, and so I was looking forward to starting Kristi Charish’s new series. And boy did I have a blast reading this book! I loved it even more than Owl, and I’m so glad this is the first in a series, because by the end of the book I was already missing the characters and dying to know what happens next. Charish gets everything right in this book: great pacing, fantastically flawed and interesting characters, a setting with tons of history, and a story that just kept getting better the more I read. If you are hesitating because you don’t like zombies, then might I suggest setting aside your dislike this time, because there is so much more to The Voodoo Killings than just brain-eating, shambling dead folks (although there is some brain-eating going on!). First of all, these zombies are quite different, with likable personalities and even agency. And second, zombies aren’t the only dead things in this story. If you like ghosts, poltergeists, ghouls and voodoo priests, then it’s clear this book has a little something for every paranormal fan out there.
The story takes place in Seattle, during a time when the undead (in one form or another) are as common as pet dogs. Kincaid Strange (such a great name for a character, right??) is a “practitioner” of the art of raising zombies. She used to work for the police department, raising the dead in order to solve crimes, but after a recent ban on unauthorized zombie-raising, she’s been kicked out of her job and is now forced to earn her living by performing séances for frat parties. But one night she gets a phone call from a zombie who says he can’t remember what happened to him, and before she knows it, Cameron, the zombie, has become her temporary responsibility.
Suddenly caught in the middle of a slew of zombie murders, Kincaid must use all her skills as a practitioner to find the killer, keep her eye on the very unstable Cameron, avoid her ex at all costs, and try not to get killed herself, as several vengeful ghosts seem to have it out for her.
I’m not even sure where to start, there are so many awesome things to tell you about this book! Let’s start with Kincaid, because she’s such a well-rounded character, someone I would choose for a friend myself. I found her much more likable than Owl from Charish’s first series, whose personality tended to grate on me a little. First, Kincaid has some wicked cool paranormal skills. She’s able to access the “Otherside” or the realm of the dead, in order to do a number of things, including communicate with spirits and see traces of magic bindings, the connective threads that practitioners use to reanimate the dead. In this way she can tell how a certain zombie might behave and whether or not it’s dangerous.
Kincaid also has the snarky humor that Charish is becoming known for. She often blurts out things before she thinks which tends to get her in trouble. But she’s a loyal friend and tenacious as hell. Kincaid tends to jump first and ask questions later, which gets her in even more trouble. And a main character in trouble makes for a very exciting story.
The Voodoo Killings is filled with great characters: Nate, the ghost of a dead grunge rock star, who just happens to be Kincaid’s roommate; Lee Ling, a beautiful zombie who runs a bar in Seattle’s Underground City, a refuge for the dead; Max, Kincaid’s mentor, a man who knows more about the murders than he’s letting on; and Gideon, a bad-ass, murderous ghost who really started to grow on me towards the end of the story. I honestly felt there weren’t any throw-away characters in this book, which is a testament to Charish’s writing skills.
The city of Seattle was a perfect setting for the story, and Charish has clearly done lots of research into the city’s past history, or at least she convinced me she had! The damp and rainy weather lent a feeling of otherworldly despair, and the author’s descriptions of the dark and dangerous pockets of the city worked so well for a story about dead things. One of my favorite parts was the underground city she created, a secret labyrinth filled with zombies and ghosts, and a place that Kincaid feels very much at home in.
I also loved the idea that one can communicate with ghosts through the use of mirrors and other shiny-surfaced objects. Sure, it’s an idea that’s been done before, but Charish gives it her own unique twist. Kincaid keeps a compact with her at all times so that she can always talk to Nate, no matter where he is. She also uses lipstick to write messages to him (and other ghosts), an idea that I found so endearing!
And I have to give a shout-out to the design of the paperback copy I read. Not only is the cover the bomb, but inside, the designers have taken the idea of the mirror and printed the author’s name and page numbers backward. It’s little touches like these that make me appreciate the entire package.
The author wraps up the story nicely, but does leave us with a tantalizing lead up to the next book, making me more anxious than ever to see what happens next. For all you readers who appreciate intricate world-building, humor, danger, well drawn characters, and an all around wonderful reading experience, The Voodoo Killings is a must read.
BIG thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
**Note to U.S. readers: Currently this book is not available in the U.S., as far as I can tell! What? So clicking on the Amazon link at the top will take you to Amazon Canada.