The first book in an urban fantasy series.

Publication year: 2010
Format: print
Page count: 325
Publisher: ROC

Alex Craft is a grave witch, a witch who can speak with the dead, see souls, raise shades, and also see into the world of the dead. With her grave sight she sees the world as a decayed and crumbling place. She has a consulting business, Tongues for the Dead, but it’s not doing well. In fact, her newest client has a heart attack right after Alex raises the client’s father’s shade and his widow wants to arrest Alex for causing the death. Fortunately, Alex has a lot of friends in the police and the matter is cleared quickly, but she doesn’t get paid.

In this world, the Fae were the ones who “came out of the closet” for normal humans and dragged witches along. Alex lives in Nekros City where a lot of witches live, too. However, despite that, or because of it, a political party called Humans First has gotten a lot of support. Alex’s father is in politics and also in the Humans First party. They haven’t spoken after Alex left in a huff when she was 18. She also has a younger sister who works for their father. Alex’s sister Casey calls her and wants her help: the Governor has died and Casey wants to be sure that magic wasn’t involved. Alex is reluctant but desperate for clients so she agrees.

In the morgue, Alex notices a persistent ghost and odd tattoos on Governor Coleman’s body. Nobody else sees the tattoos, even though the coroner is famous for her ability to find magic. Alex also tries to raise a murdered woman’s shade, as a favor for her cop friend in exchange for seeing the Governor’s body. A shade a collection of the dead person’s memories and doesn’t have will or goals. However, this time the shade screams and attacks Alex. The shade even wounds her, which shouldn’t be possible. To add to the confusion, the lead detective in Coleman’s case shows up and throws Alex and her cop friend out.

On the steps of the police station, someone shoots at Alex. However, she’s shoved out of the way and the bullet hits her cop friend instead. She wants to find out who did it and is also mixed up in Coleman’s murder case.

Alex is a very typical urban fantasy heroine: she lives alone, except for her dog, and is against any sort of romantic entanglements. But she has a good circle of friends. The coroner Tamara is her best friend and Caleb is her friend and landlord. He’s also fae.

For most of her life, Alex has been able to see the spirits of the dead and also Death: a young looking man who collects the souls of the dying. She even has a friendship of sorts with Death. Because she’s able to see and hear people whom others don’t see, she can come off as strange sometimes.

Even though Alex is nominally a private investigator, she usually just raises shades and isn’t used to doing actual investigation. The story is fast-paced with quick twists and drew me in. I even liked the chemistry between Alex and her major love interest, which isn’t usual for me.

Alex’s powers come with a price: after she uses the grave sight her regular eyesight goes really bad or she’s even blind for a while.