In an Aaron Volner review first, I’ve decided to review both an individual book and the entire series that goes with it in one go. I recently finished the last book in the Greywalker series so this feels like the perfect time to experiment with this. I’m going to say upfront that because this review is about the last book in the series and the series, in general, this review CONTAINS SPOILERS THROUGHOUT.
First, a general overview of the series. Harper Blaine is an average PI working an average case in the Seattle area when her untimely demise occurs. Brutally attacked by the subject of an investigation, Harper winds up dead for several minutes before doctors are able to revive her. Upon her return to the land of the living Harper discovers some things have changed. All of a sudden she’s seeing things… the ghosts of the long dead, memories of the city as it once was, a mysterious beast that seems to roam the border between the real world and the nightmarish world of ghosts and swirling grey mist that lurks just beyond the edges of her sight.
Seeking out help from ones knowledgeable in the occult, she soon learns that she has come back as a Greywalker. A being who can traverse the line between the normal and the paranormal. The real world, and the mists of The Grey, that foggy place that encompasses magic, myth, imagination, the dead, and all other strange things that go bump in the night.
But with sight comes the notice of others, and Harper Blaine quickly finds herself entangled in a web of magic and intrigue as the city’s paranormal denizens, everything from vampires to ancient Native American gods, to spellcasters, start coming out the woodwork looking for her help.
This series could have easily slipped into the realm of the silly or the ridiculous multiple times over its run. Greywalker avoids this through solid dedication to the characters, a well thought out magic system thoroughly grounded its own complex rules, and a foundation of basing every paranormal conflict off a personal one that most readers can relate to.
Harper Blaine is a character with enough grit and vinegar to keep any fan of hard-boiled detectives happy while still frequently showing compassionate sides to help come across as a fully dimensional woman. You genuinely want to see her succeed, and your heart breaks when she stumbles or gets backed into a corner.
Personally, I find the various cases quite intriguing as well, especially as the overarching narrative continues to develop and the cases begin more and more to tie into the larger pattern being woven.
In the final book, Revenant, Harper joins her lover Quentin and the vampire necromancer Carlos in an overseas mission to stop Quentin’s mad father from unleashing literal hell on Europe. After establishing “The Ghost Division”, a branch of the CIA meant to study and exploit the supernatural, Quentin’s father has been sowing chaos and terror in the global theater in a bid to strengthen the United States’ position as a global superpower. When he goes so far as to kidnap his own granddaughter, Quentin’s niece, to be used as a sacrifice in a spell to be cast by one of his lackeys, the race is on to find the girl and stop the spell that could cause disaster worldwide.
This last chapter in a wonderful series takes a huge risk in taking Harper and the gang out of their usual haunt in Seattle and plopping them in the midst of a totally unfamiliar setting. Still, with events in the plot unfolding as they were the story could hardly have done otherwise and still been believable. The gamble pays off in my opinion, as the sense of jeopardy and suspense is palpable from the moment the adventure begins, with threats both magical and covert lurking around every corner and the odds stacked against three heroes with limited magic and resources and lacking the home field advantage.
As with any good series, the characters have been changing and developing over the course of the books, and much of that development comes to fruition in the final volume. The book even brings back some fan-favorite characters from early in the series who have been gone for a while touring Europe for a brief cameo. They’re wonderful to see again and the scenes brought a smile to my face, while at the same time giving us a chance to see just how far Harper has come since the last time she saw them.
The truth is, I could go on about how awesome this series is for thousands of words and still have more to say so I’m going to go ahead and wrap this up before it gets too much wordier. I recommend Greywalker to fantasy fans in general, but in particular fans of The Dresden Files are sure to eat these books up. The series as a whole gets 5 stars from me.