Yes, I know… I absolutely L-O-V-E Kim Harrison and her Rachel Morgan novels not to mention the Mercy Thompson saga by Patricia Briggs, Stacia Kane’s Downside, Adrian Phoenix’s The Maker’s Song, and the Kayla Steele novels by Natasha Rhodes, to name a few, but as of this moment in time, the summer of 2010, I think the Greywalker saga is the very best paranormal fantasy out there – and here are a few reasons why.
1. The Greywalker saga (Greywalker, Poltergeist, Underground, Vanished, and Labyrinth) is one of the few paranormal fantasy series to make the jump from paperback to hardcover. The magnitude of the last three Greywalker novels being released in hardcover can not be overemphasized: paranormal fantasy is arguably one of the fastest growing and dynamic categories in genre fiction but of the hundreds upon hundreds of releases each year, only an elite few are being published in hardcover. In just four years, Richardson has joined a select group of authors that includes the likes of Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, and Patricia Briggs.
2. The Greywalker saga is anything but conventional paranormal fantasy. There are no orgies with oversexed shapeshifters in after-hour nightclubs (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), no heroines wearing painted on leather pants and stiletto heels, no sitcom-like humor replete with canned laughter… These novels are truly works of literature: they’re simultaneously reminiscent of classic supernatural works like Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence stories and Raymond Chandler’s noir-nuanced mysteries featuring private investigator Philip Marlowe. I love how Richardson blends the gritty, crime fiction narrative tone with a spooky, supernatural ambiance. Here’s an example for her newest, Labyrinth: “I was a Greywalker, and this was about as Grey as Seattle got: the depths of the old city where ghosts were as common as dirt and the layers of time slid and chimed over one another like slices of broken glass…”
3. Kat Richardson – and her protagonist Blaine Harper – are evolving with every new installment. I love Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan saga because every new novel is better than the last. The same is true with the Greywalker saga. In Labyrinth, Richardson shows her maturation as a writer by seamlessly weaving Egyptian mythology into the already richly tapestried, myth-laden (Native American, Greek, etc.) storyline—and her heroine Blaine Harper, well, let’s just say that in Labyrinth, she not only evolves but transforms as well! Blaine’s identity—who she really is and what she will ultimately become—has always been somewhat of a mystery but in Labyrinth, readers begin to get a glimpse into her destiny. At one point, Carlos Pires Ataide—a vampiric necromancer—calls her “Paladin of the Dead” and Blaine is shocked when she begins to bleed light and cry tears of blood…
4. Labyrinth is, in a very real sense, just the beginning of Blaine’s awakening. After five novels, this story is just taking off! As mentioned earlier, Blaine is just starting to come to grips with her abilities. She is becoming part of the flow of magic, one with the Grey. The potential storylines for the series looking forward are virtually limitless—the first five novels could be perceived as essentially the foundation if and when Blaine accepts her new role as champion for the dead. One line in particular struck me in Labyrinth and gave me a hint into how powerful a heroine Blaine could be: “I am not your tool… I’m your doom.”
5. Kat Richardson is just plain cool. She lives on a boat, doesn’t own a television and hangs out with Cherie Priest and Mark Henry. Say no more.
What do you think? Is Kat Richardson’s Greywalker saga the very best paranormal fantasy has to offer right now?
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.