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Home » Authors, Doll Suz, Kalayna Price, Reviewers, Reviews

Review: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Submitted by Doll Suz on August 24, 2012 – 6:00 am6 Comments

Author: Kalayna Price
Release: July 3rd 2012
Series: Alex Craft 3
Reviewer: Suz
Source: Personal Library
Purchase: B&N | | Book Depository

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.

The Bad:

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.

The Good:

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.

Suz has a grown son, two grandsons, a degree in graphic design and loves both computer and studio fine arts. She reads a lot. She's not very good at diplomacy, most people find her abrasive. She grew up cutting her teeth on high fantasy (and low?) ala Anne McCaffrey and science fiction ala Robert Heinlein. She's gone through bouts of Stephen King and the like being her focus, too. But for several years now she's been stuck in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. She must admit that she is most often scornful of the Paranormal Romance, constantly hoping to find that rare offering that breaks the tropes and molds but cynical and a bit condescending if she doesn't find it. If you see that from her, it means she was too hopeful for the book and ended up disappointed, not scornful of the genre.
Doll Suz
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  • says:

    wow, this is a fabulous review. You did a great job of venting your frustrations with the character, but without slamming the book and series. I’ve read the first book, and have the next two on my shelf *glances longingly at TBR shelf* I think I will wait for book 4 to come out because this kind of cliff hanger ending would drive me nuts too :)

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      Thank you, Sharon. I’m glad I was able to convey the spirit and intent of my vent without undermining my enjoyment of this series. It really is a good series.

      I have to admit that I hate cliff hangers more every time I am confronted with one. They always leave me feeling manipulated and toyed with and disrespected. I’m having a difficult time not allowing the resentment to bleed into my reviews. I try to avoid cliff hangers because of it. I’ve started tabling series that the author writes cliff hangers in the hopes that when the series is complete I can read them back to back. I’m finding that more often than not by the time the series is complete I’ve lost interest in the books – usually they’ve fallen by the wayside because there are other series that don’t write cliff hangers that have gotten my attention.

      I completely applaud an author that tells the story the way they want to tell it and when I say I table the series it’s not because I’m punishing the author. It’s because when I hit that cliff hanger I feel like I’ve been punished and I don’t like that feeling. I realize a lot of folks out there enjoy that, they find it titillating, but I am all the way at the other end of the spectrum. Folks who read my reviews should know that when it comes to cliff hangers I am not an unbiased opinion.

      If you don’t mind them it’s not really a terrible cliff hanger. It’s an out of left field thing that really is just the set up for the next book and doesn’t really effect the book arc at all. But if you do mind them then I would wait. In fact I wish I’d waited.

      Reply to this comment »
  • I <3 this review, but then again, you already know that.

    <3Death<3 I always want more of him! Falin who?

    I also like that I now know not to read it until the next releases.

    However, I did purchase my copy already. I do like this series, and I want it to continue, but I HATE CLIFFHANGERS!

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      I wished I’d known.

      Like I said, it’s the kind of thing that someone who doesn’t hate them probably wouldn’t get upset about. SURPRISE! The end.

      As you can tell, it made me nuts.

      Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    Great review Suz. I think I over looked several points because this book had more quality time with Death. :-) I also wish this love triangle would come to a resolution, and Do Not get me started on the Winter queen.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      Well yeah, d., but what story worth its salt doesn’t have a bitch we all want to throttle?


      Reply to this comment »