This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price
Series: Alex Craft #5
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Ace Books
Purchase at: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Book Depository ◊ Google Play ◊ Kobo ◊ IndieBound ◊ Books-A-Million
In the thrilling fifth book in the USA Today bestselling Alex Craft series, Alex comes face to face with the walking dead.
Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet, reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.
Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister magic. When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can Alex get to the soul of the matter in time?
Alex Craft and her partner Rianna run the Tongues for the Dead detective agency and Grave Ransom starts out with Alex taking on the agency’s first missing persons case. Alex and Rianna have a pretty good business going and balance each other out nicely. Rianna is the spell caster and raises shades mostly, while Alex takes on cases that don’t involve using her grave witch, able to see/feel/speak to the dead, capabilities.
All grave witches take a hit on their eye sight when they use their powers but for Alex it is magnified. In addition to being a grave witch Alex is also a plane weaver, able to see onto different planes of reality, and that combination is harder on Alex’s eyes. In fact, in some cases uses her grave witch powers gives her temporary blindness. As if that were not enough it was also recently discovered that she is Fae as well. There is a lot going on with this character.
Her client, Rachel, is a teenager that has hired Alex to find her missing boyfriend. This should have been an easy enough task. With the help of her partner’s skills in spell casting, Alex is able to use a charm that allows her to track the boyfriend. Nothing about this missing person case makes any sense as from the start Alex feels as if the charm is sending her in two different directions. As it turns out, this is no easy missing persons case. There is foul magic in play and Alex is up against a necromancer that will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.
If things weren’t tough enough, brought in to investigate the crime of who is using reanimated corpses to commit robberies across the city, Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau enlists the assistance of Alex in the most heinous way. Forced into a tumultuous partnership with Briar which quickly becomes a two for one deal when Falin steps in to provide protection for Alex. He is under an obligation to his Queen to make sure that no harm befalls Alex and when it becomes apparent that Briars actions put Alex in harm’s way he is forced into the position of her bodyguard. Between you and me though, I think he does not really mind at all 😁.
Now Alex must work with the authorities to solve the mystery of why people are being raised from the dead in order to carry out the whims of a sinister mastermind. This is a foe that will tax the limits of Alex’s strength as well force her into challenging what she believed was the extent of her abilities. Through this testing, it becomes clear that Alex is stronger than she ever knew. With the aid of her friends and her boyfriend, Death, Alex embarks on a dangerous quest to get to the bottom of this mystery.
There is a bit of a backstory with this novel. Alex is Fae but she has been given independent status but it also comes with her past “sometimes” lover Falin being forced to reside in the castle that was given to Alex. This castle has been annexed out of limbo and into the mortal realm which is now connected with the house that Alex has lived in for the past several years. She has a current love interest, known as Death, but they are breaking all the rules by being together. All of this is woven throughout the story but really the main plot of the book is the case. Everything else just adds to the story.
I really liked that Grave Ransom did not get bogged down by trying to add too much extra material. I liked the idea of the castle being both in the mortal realm but still connected to the fae realm. I loved the ideas that had been introduced there but I wish that part had been developed more. I would have loved to have seen what happened with the gardens. The ending was not what I expected but it did leave room for future avenues for the story to turn down. Grave Ransom definitely kept my interest with the action and storyline development but left me with little in the way of emotional feels. Overall, it is a good read that has a fabulous mystery that keeps you guessing until the final reveal.
*Thank you to NetGalley & Berkley Publishing Group for this eARC of Grave Ransom*
Excerpt from Grave Ransom:
The first time I realized I could feel corpses, I had nightmares for a week. I was a child at the time, so that was understandable. These days I was accustomed to the clammy reach of the grave that lifted from dead bodies. To the eerie feeling of my own innate magic responding and filling me with the unrequested knowledge of how recently the person died, their gender, and the approximate age they were at death. When I anticipated encountering a corpse, I tightened my mental shields and worked at keeping my magic at bay. Usually that was only necessary at places like graveyards, the morgue, and funeral homes—places one might expect to find a body.
I never expected to feel a corpse walking across the street in the middle of the Magic Quarter.
“Alex? I’ve lost you, haven’t I?” Tamara, one of my best friends and my current lunchmate, asked. She sighed, twisting in her seat to scan the sidewalk beyond the small outdoor sitting area of the café where we were eating. “Huh. Which one is he? I may be married and knocked up, but I know a good-looking man when I see one, and girl, I don’t see one. Who are you staring at?”
“That guy,” I said, nodding my head at a man in a brown suit crossing the street.
Tamara glanced at the squat, middle-aged man who was more than a little soft in the middle and then cocked an eyebrow at me. “I’ve seen what you have at home, so I take it this is business. Did you bring one of your cases to our lunch?”
I ignored the “at home” comment, as that situation was more than a little complicated, and shook my head. “My case docket is clear,” I said absently, and let my senses stretch. When I concentrated, I could feel grave essence reaching from corpses in my vicinity. All corpses. There were decades of dead and decaying rats in the sewer below the streets, and smaller creatures like insects that barely made a blip on my radar, but like called to like, and my magic zeroed in on the man.
“He’s dead,” I said, and even to me my voice sounded unsure.
Tamara blinked at me, likely waiting for me to reveal the joke. Instead I pushed out of my seat as the man turned up the street. Tamara grabbed my arm.
“I’m the lead medical examiner for Nekros City, and I can tell you with ninety-nine point nine percent certainty that the man walking down the street is very much alive.” She put extra emphasis on the word “walking,” and on any other day, I would have agreed with her.
My own eyes agreed with her. But my magic, that part of me that touched the grave, that could piece together shades from the memories left in every cell of a body, disagreed. That man, walking or not, was a corpse. Granted, he was a fresh one—the way he felt to my magic told me he couldn’t have been dead more than an hour. But he was dead.
So how the hell had he just walked into the Museum of Magic and the Arcane?
I dropped enough crumpled dollars on the table to cover my portion of the bill and tip before weaving around tables and out of the café seating. Behind me, Tamara grumbled under her breath, but after a moment I heard her chair slide back as she pushed away from the table. I didn’t wait for her to follow me out as I all but sprinted across the street to catch up with the walking corpse.
The museum’s wards tingled along my skin as I stepped through the threshold. I’d been inside the museum a few times, and the collection of rare and unusual artifacts from both pre- and post-awakening was impressive, but I was a sensitive, capable of sensing magic, and between all the security wards and the artifacts themselves, the museum tended to be overwhelming. Definitely migraine-inducing in large doses. I noted that the magic in the air was particularly biting today, like one of the security wards had recently been triggered. I sucked in an almost pained breath, trying to adjust to the sudden crush of magic all around me. The extra sting of the deployed ward didn’t help.
I should have walked the extra few steps to clear the entrance wards.