Kissing. References to sex
Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.
After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.
The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.
GRAVE WITCH was one of the most promising urban fantasy debuts from last year. It introduced us to strange and alluring Nekros City where all the horror stories and fairy tale creatures you’ve ever heard of live along side with humans, two potential romantic leads with enigmatic Death himself and a fae with ambiguous loyalties, and a fearless protagonist in Alex Craft who works as a private investigator with a talent for communicating beyond the grave. With so much going for the debut, could the sequel live up to it? No. It’s better actually.
The worldbuilding in the Alex Craft series is a dense and vibrant tour de force. It’s the best I’ve read since Ilona Andrews’ Atlanta from the Kate Daniels series. Magic has serious consequences, especially for Alex who permanently damages her vision and goes temporarily blind every time she uses her Gravesight. Raising a shade from a dead body exacts it’s own price on her too. It’s this cost that made the stakes in GRAVE DANCE so high. Alex had to constantly weigh the benefits and risks every time she needed to use her abilities, and the choices she made often had devastating repercussions.
The plot was equally compelling. It was dark without being disturbing. There are harrowing moments of danger and bleak displays of capricious depravity especially from the many fae in GRAVE DANCE, but they are tempered with Alex’s subtle humor and her impressive resourcefulness and bravery that made her ‘this is going to hurt but what choice do I have’ attitude all the more appealing. And despite how many time I thought I had figured out the true motives of each character, Kaylayna surprised me while still remaining completely believable.
And the romance! Urban fantasy is the perfect genre to build really good romantic tension that can span several books and that’s exactly what Kaylayna Price is doing with her Alex Craft series. Falin or Death? Death or Falin? I don’t know who I want Alex to end up with, but if there are more scenes like delicious ones in GRAVE DANCE, I’m really going to enjoy the chase. No word yet on the next Alex Craft book, but this series is now firmly placed on my favorites list.