Review: “Grave Memory,” Kalayna Price

Pros: Nice tough tale with plenty of danger
Cons: Perhaps Alex needs to consider polyamory…
Rating: 4 out of 5

Grave Memory is book three of Kalayna Price’s Alex Craft series. Alex is a “grave witch”–she can interact with the land of the dead (or the dead themselves) in several ways. Her primary goal has been to solve murders; she can call a “shade” up out of a body that can tell what happened before the person died. Her personal life–and her rapidly escalating and changing powers–have been getting in the way of her work, in some flashy and dangerous ways, so the police don’t particularly want to hire her right now. She’s trying to find other clients, but not everyone is comfortable with witchcraft, or with the other odd things Alex can do. Finally a case lands on her desk, but it’s a tough one. She believes a recent rash of suicides is actually the result of murder by a being that can inhabit others’ bodies. Naturally, keeping herself alive will be a difficult task, requiring the help of her friends, her not-so-close family, and her escalating powers.

 

Alex’s love life is still complicated–she has lots of strong feelings for both Falin and “Death” (why does she never ask him his real name in this one?). I guess it’s supposed to be a love triangle with lots of angst, but instead I find myself thinking she really needs to look into polyamory and have a nice long talk with both of her guys. The sheer volume of back-and-forth emotions and accompanying actions finally hit my annoyance button or I wouldn’t have gotten to that point. At least Alex seems to have more chemistry with Death this time, which is a plus–and did make me smile.

The concept of a creature that can possess bodies, suck them dry over a couple of days, then kill them before moving on, is a good one. It’s made even better by some of the later revelations (which I’m not going to spoil for you). It meshes well with Alex’s evolving powers, her weird relationship with the fey, and more. It’s also complicated by the fact that when Alex raises the shade of one of these ‘suicides’, the shade has no memory of the previous few days. Watching her and her friends slowly put together the details is good–plenty of tension involved (and a little frustration when they missed some obvious non-coincidences).

The pacing in this one is good, and most of the characters have gained some extra dimension along the way. I enjoyed reading Grave Memory and look forward to reading the next book. It’s not such a great series that I’d pre-order the follow-on, but if it comes across my desk I expect I’ll enjoy it.

 

NOTE: Book provided free for review by publisher

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