Review: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price
When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen…
As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.
But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…
This addition to the Alex Craft series was really good in some parts and exceptionally lame in others. I just finished it and the ending left me very angry so that is the place that I am writing this review from. I will try to be balanced but you’ve been warned.
First and foremost, the ending is an insulting half-assed cliff hanging gratuitous set up for the next book that was nothing more than a blatant “buy the next book” hook. Because it was one of those “Surprise!” cliff hangers and not something that took an entire book to set up only to leave you unresolved I am foregoing my standing policy of giving an automatic one star rating due to cliff hanger ending, but I do so grudgingly. Adolescent girls who have no experience with consensual sexual teasing enjoy this crap. I, however, am not amused. In case you’re wondering this is the primary source of my anger.
I hate love triangles and I’m especially sick of this one, particularly since she’s infatuated with not one but two men she can’t have. It makes her stupid. I don’t like heroines to be stupid. She has unresolved Daddy issues and it’s manifesting in her willingness to continue to want guys that are just out of reach and who want to love her but circumstances have to come first, just like Daddy. I get it. I’m over it. Resolve it because it is not a strong enough dilemma to carry through the series. It’s officially tiresome and Alex’s apparently increasing skills at avoiding her issues doesn’t engender empathy, it just makes her insufferable. The fact that Death’s situation makes him unattainable is plenty of angst for this story line. The addition of the third wheel, Falin, and his drama is too much for me. While I find that Falin’s circumstances as a subject of the Winter Queen, and all that entails, make for an interesting layer of several of the longer arcs I just can’t help feeling like Alex’s romantic interest in him is superfluous and brings a gratuitous level of romance angst to the story that only demeans Alex’s character. He’s interesting enough without her being torn over wanting someone who has told her outright he’s not trustworthy, and proven it on several occasions. Her trying to be “understanding” because of his compulsion is like watching a battered woman excuse her abuser with “when he’s sober he doesn’t hit me.” She started out as a very strong character but in this instance familiarity is breeding contempt. I find I want to shake her and tell her to grow up and take better care of herself and stop being a stupid bint.
The mystery surrounding Alex’s personal history, who she is, how it plays out politically and personally, and her awakening to herself is a good storyline but it’s being doled out in dribbles that remind me of really good long arcs in otherwise insipid romance series. Instead of getting more interested with each installment I am getting more impatient with the pace of its evolution, or lack thereof. If this were a trilogy it would be resolved by now, it should be farther along.
The mystery that was the book arc had very interesting elements with a high squick factor that was down right creepy, but it played out a bit too repetitively and became nothing more than an obvious framework for the introduction of new characters and the means to dribble out more of the plethora of unresolved long arcs. In short there was more unresolved long arcs in this book than there was book arc.
Just take everything I said above and find the good slant for it.
The book arc was closed up with a solid resolution. The cliff hanger was a continuation of several of the unresolved long arcs and the love triangle, but the book arc was satisfactorily resolved after an exciting amount of seat-of-the-pants climactic confrontation which is becoming the norm in this overall exceptionally good series.
This book gave us significant, if temporary, in-roads with Death who is shaping up to be a complete swoon worthy love interest, if you try to ignore that he’s unattainable as a partner. He’s everyone’s dream man, but he’s Death. We finally get some hot & smexy with him and after three books I say “about damned time, too!” We get more interaction with Death, and not just in bed but also insights into his world, in this book than we have in any prior installment in the series and were it not for the jarring ending I would have given this book four stars just for this alone. It’s just that good.
Like I said above, the mystery surrounding Alex’s personal history, who she is, how it plays out politically and personally, and her awakening to herself, is a very good story line. Her ability to avoid herself and the things she finds difficult to face is unraveling and as it does we get more glimpses into who she might be and, I think, some undefined foreshadowing regarding her powers. I’d like to say that I think I have “who” she is figured out but in the first two books I thought I had the who-done-it figured out and Kalayna Price surprised me both times so I will refrain from making that boast. I will say, however, that this is the sort of delicious tension that comes from subtle and nuanced plots. Alex’s personal history is just that. I want more of it at least in part because I’m itching to find out if I’m right. It has the potential to be an intelligent story line and I hope Ms. Price uses it thoroughly as the series progresses.
If you’ve ever had a nightmare about not being in control of your body then this book is probably going to scare the pants off of you. That’s the crux of the book mystery and I could wax poetic about it but it would just give too much away. The mystery in Grave Memory is a creepy plot that will have you looking into the dark corners when you enter a room.
I am finding the series inordinately frustrating but I realize that, with a few vexing exceptions, most of my frustration comes from wanting more of the story. That says good things about the series over all, doesn’t it? The fact that I want to spit nails about it says that I’m completely sucked in.
I should probably grow up and take better care of myself and stop being a stupid bint.