Review: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish

May 11, 2016
Review: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi CharishThe Voodoo Killings: A Kincaid Strange Novel by Kristi Charish
Published by Vintage Canada on May 10th 2016
Pages: 352
Our reviews of this author: Owl and the City of Angels

Thanks to Vintage Canada for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Sometimes you step tentatively into a book, not quite sure where the intersection of your hopes and expectations will lie. Urban Fantasy is not generally a must-read genre for me, but I’ve become a fan of Kristi Charish’s Adventures of Owl. Having said that, however, I know that much of the appeal in that series (for me, at least) is in the archaeology and the mythology. As such, I really wasn’t sure if I was up for a more, for lack of a better word, generic urban fantasy.

Well, let me spare you the suspense and declare that The Voodoo Killings marks the start of another fantastic series – one that I wouldn’t have otherwise been drawn to, but which I am very glad I was. It’s a ghost story with a twist, and a voodoo tale with far more depth than even a fan of her work might expect. Strange is a very different sort of heroine than Owl, more likable in personality and more deliberate in her planning, but still just as compelling.

Where the book really began to win me over, though, was with our first trip into Seattle’s Underground City – and not the one tourists get to explore. There’s some real world building here, establishing it’s paranormal place in the world, while still tying it to the history of Seattle. This is a world where ghosts and zombies are real, and where a different sort of Voodoo allows the mortal world to intersect with the supernatural. On that note, this is not your grandmother’s Voodoo, and while I’m sure there are some readers who make take issue with the appropriation of a culture/faith, I really like what she did with it here.

Of course, characters and setting are only part of what makes a good book work so well. Fortunately, the central mystery here is legitimately compelling, and genuinely exciting. It’s a testament to the narrative strengths of Charish that she’s able to so casually walk the reader through a zombie’s mystical bindings, and point out how unusual they are, and make us care about it. I was hooked early one, and wanted to know what the heck was going on. Once the issue of mass murders enters into the equation, it just gets even more interesting.

The Voodoo Killings is a fast paced paranormal adventure that somehow also manages to feel down-to-earth. Even with all the supernatural trappings, it’s still a story to which the reader can easily relate. Yes, it’s violent and gory, complete with chilled goblets of mashed brains, but never so over-the-top that you have trouble suspending disbelief. It’s also an exceptionally well-written tale, demonstrating the further refinement of Charish’s unique voice. I am still slightly more excited for the 3rd Owl book than I am for a 2nd Kincaid novel . . . but that just means I need her to write faster.

Bob Milne
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