I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Ace on July 4, 2017
Source: the library
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Kicking It: These Boots are Made for Stalking, Grave Visions
Fifth in the Alex Craft urban fantasy series set in Nekros City, Texas, and revolving around a witch who feels the presence of corpses.
I appreciate that Grave Ransom is all about doing the right thing, of loyalty, in spite of a number of betrayals. And yet I’m annoyed with Grave Ransom, and not because Price uses first-person protagonist point-of-view from Alex’s perspective. Instead, it was all the tell. The only time Price pulled me into the story was Remy’s tale. For the rest? It was simply words to get through.
Past stories in the Alex Craft series have been rich with action and characters. This one not at all. It’s bare of much of this with only a small core of characters and settings, and even that is sparse with very little said about them. Nothing about their lives or what they are. Let alone last names…?? I think the final cap on my disappointment was Price’s treatment of Death. Or, rather, Alex’s abuse of him. I get why she did it, and Death’s behavior is partly to blame. Lord knows I don’t remember him being so intransigent before when Alex needed help! But it was a weak effort that Price should have put more thought into to make it believable. Taylor’s only reaction at the end was also weird.
Alex’s condition also annoys me. And, that is totally not fair of me. She can’t help being a grave witch. Nor can she help what those ramifications are, although I do wish, again, that she hadn’t gone on and on and on about it.
Yeah, it’s an interesting story with some horrible ramifications, and Alex does makes a leap in her understanding (and use) of her abilities. It’s too bad that Price never did make me feel much of any emotion for it.
The dead are walking in Nekros, stealing, robbing, and more. When Alex gets caught up in their crimes, the police aren’t interested in hearing her side. Not until Briar Darque steps in.
Alex Craft is a grave witch who’s part fae and feels the bones of the dead; she’s also discovered she’s a plane-weaver. PC is her Chinese crested dog. Her castlemates include Rianna; Caleb who used to be her landlord, and now his place is merely a conduit to the castle; Holly who is his lover; a garden gnome; Fred, who leads the audacity of gargoyles; and, Falin Andrews, the Winter Queen’s Bloody Hands, ordered to live with Alex.
Tongues for the Dead is…
…Alex’s and Rianna’s private investigation business. Rianna was Alex’s best friend before she was taken. Now she’s a changeling with physical challenges. Desmond is a fae who can shift into a barghest. Roy is a ghost and wanna-be junior detective. Icelynne is a fae ghost who haunts Alex’s castle and with whom Roy is in love. Ms. B is a brownie with high standards who came with the castle and chooses to act as their office manager.
The FIB is…
…the earth-based fae law enforcement bureau. Lead Special Agent is Falin Andrews. Yep, the queen’s knight.
The Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau is…
…charged with cleaning up magical messes. The ruthless Briar Darque is an inspector. Her partner is a premonition witch and touch clairvoyant, Derrick Knight.
Nekros law enforcement
Tamara is one of Alex’s best friends and the lead medical examiner. John, a homicide detective, used to be friendly with Alex. Jenson is his partner. I think the Anti-Black Magic Unit is part of the police.
Rachael and Rue Saunders want to hire Alex to find their six-year-old daughter, Katie. Taylor Carson is a high school student looking for her college-going boyfriend, Remy Hollens. Colin is Remy’s skeptical college roommate. Annabelle McNabb. Rodger Bartlett had been a museum thief. Rosie Cranford had been homeless with a fascination for runes. Elsie Lambie is a runner; Linda is/was her training partner. Angela Moore had been a student.
Dr. Marcus Hadisty, Dr. Marcus Vogel, Dr. Marcus Basselet, and Dr. Moyer were conducting studies. Gauhter and Tiffany Bates (as “Bruiser” she sometimes needs tweaking) are some of his friends. James and Becky didn’t function too well.
The collectors are…
…what we think of as reapers, grim reapers. Alex has named them: Raver, Gray Man, and Death who happens to be her boyfriend. The Mender is in charge of the soul collectors, and he’s furious with Death for his associating with Alex.
Magic-eye is an insulting term for a private investigator who uses magic and no real investigative work to close cases. The Dead Club Forums is an Internet site for grave witches. Wyrd magic is inherent and must be used. Xandra Lundahl is a reporter for a local station. Witch Watch is a popular news program; Lusa Duncan is one of their reporters. The Eternal Bloom is a fae bar built around an amaranthine tree in Nekros. The Sleagh Maith are fae nobility.
The Cover and Title
The cover finds a white-haired Alex, holding a knife in one hand and wearing black leather pants with a belt hung with rings and knives and a purple sleeveless top with a silver necklace of large chain links around her neck and big silver hoop earrings. Her body is facing into the cover but her face is turned to us, as if daring us to enter that spooky wrought iron gate standing ajar, leading into a misty, grayish-blue-purple graveyard. The author’s name is in a shadowed white roman font at the top. The title is in italics in a pale lime green with its own shadows, crossing Alex’s torso. The series information is in white at the bottom right and framed by purple scrollwork, top and bottom.
The title is the “bribe” used on the volunteers, a Grave Ransom that holds false promises.