Review: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price

Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price (Alex Craft #5)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Ace on July 4, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking.

 

A unique magic system, a cast of awesome characters (predominantly ladies), and legitimately interesting “case of the week” plots in each book help the Alex Craft series stand out in a sea of urban fantasy. Unfortunately, it’s also plagued by a longstanding love triangle and romantic angst and I felt that GRAVE RANSOM was dragged down by it

Private detective and grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to dangerous cases: she’s dealt with supernatural abductions, murderous fae, and hordes of ghouls intent on killing her, just to name a few. Seeing dead people up and walking about? Not that big of a deal. Except this time the walking corpses have souls inside them…and they don’t match up with their hosts. Alex is going to need all of her witchy powers to crack the case before more souls are snatched; she may even need to call in some major backup in the form of other grave witches, fae agents, and human law enforcement. They’ll have to work quickly because there’s nothing Nekros City PD hates more than a case of necromancy, and Alex is at the very top of their suspect list.

GRAVE RANSOM marks a major change for this series, as it explores Alex’s emotional state and her fears about the future much more deeply than any of the previous books. We’ve had more than a few hints that all is not well with Alex – major abandonment issues and the threat of going blind if she keeps using her powers are prominent concerns – but here’s where Kalayna Price finally digs into the impact of it all, and she pulls it off beautifully. There are some major “midlife crisis” vibes in this story, but they feel like a natural consequence of all the disturbing and dangerous stuff Alex has seen since the series began. While not everything is perfectly resolved or overcome, there’s definite forward movement that can only be good for the development of Alex as a character.

Not to worry though, there’s still plenty of fun and snark to be found here despite the more somber tone. There are some really great characters here, like Alex’s BFF and fellow grave witch Rhianna; the badass and possibly insane cop/supernatural cleaner Briar; and even Alex’s receptionist and housekeeper, the fae brownie Mrs. B, makes a strong appearance in GRAVE RANSOM. Price does a great job with the dialogue and general dynamic between all these women, and I was getting major girl power vibes the entire time I was reading.

As much as I love the characters and world building in this series, I’m really over all the romantic drama and angst that seems to plague Alex. The love triangle that seemed to plague Alex seemed to finally be resolved in the previous book, but a wrench is sort of thrown into that in GRAVE RANSOM. I’m not sure if the triangle will be revived or not, but one thing is clear: the romantic drama is here to stay. Which is a major bummer, I have to admit. Authors everywhere, take note: you don’t need forced relationship drama to keep a long-running series fresh. Despite my griping about the romance, I’m still an Alex Craft fan and I’m looking forward to the next book. Fingers crossed that the personal drama is resolved quickly, but I won’t hold my breath.

Have you read the Alex Craft series? How do you feel about forced romantic drama in long book series? Let me know in the comments!

  • The Alex Craft series has been on my TBR for awhile now, in fact I think I have the first two books, but I’m a bit tired of jumping in on these series. Is book six suppose to be the conclusion in October? I would love to binge read them if so? The PNR world sounds fabulous overall.

    • I totally know what you mean! Some UF series really do seem to go on forever. I’m not sure what the plans are for the Alex Craft series — all I know is that Kalayna Price is currently contracted up until book 6. I haven’t heard either way about whether it’ll be the series finale though! It’s a great world and the first book is a strong intro, I definitely recommend picking it up.

  • I haven’t read this series, but I feel you on the forced romantic drama stuff. Romantic tension needs to be resolved in a reasonable timeline for a plot, otherwise I’m just left thinking, “FOILED AGAIN!?!?!” (e.g., the numerous series where the romantic leads always fail to kiss / every manga ever).

    • HA! I’ve been there, let me tell you. Sometimes it can be good when it takes people forever to get together (that sweet, sweet slow burn) but not when there’s all this unnecessary angst in between, you know?

  • I have enjoyed the series so far 🙂 But yes more drama…still

    • It’s still a really strong series, but I agree — the drama’s gotta stop!

  • Greg Hill

    These do look fun (dating Death??) , sorry to hear the angst dragged it down a bit. I love the idea of UF PI’s too, even though I haven’t read a ton of UF. Nice that there was forward character development, and ooh a brownie? Love those lol.

    And yay for girl power! Glad this one was good on balance.

    • They’re so fun! And Death is awesome, just saying. 😉 Even though it’s super trope-y, I absolutely love it when UF protagonists are private investigators — there’s something about that blend of mystery and fantasy that just works for me. Brownies are the best! I need one to clean my apartment…LOL.

  • I bought the first two books in this series years ago when I was really into UF but I never got around to reading them sadly. One of these days…hopefully.

    • The first book is actually one of my favourite UF debuts ever — it’s a really strong series starter! Highly recommend it if/when you feel like reading a back list UF title.

  • This series is on my TBR and I think it will be the next UF series I start. Glad to know it has your endorsement!

    • Let’s be real: almost anything with witches has my endorsement. LOL! I do really like this series though, and I think the first book is particularly strong in terms of world building. I’m excited to hear what you think of it!

  • Karen

    Nope to the LT and angst lol

    For What It’s Worth

  • I think there is a lot of goodness here, but I the forced love triangle, or love triangles in general, I am kind of over. There I said it. It really does depend on how it’s done, I admit, but generally, I just avoid books like those.

    • I hear you Verushka, I am *so* over love triangles and forced romantic drama. For a few years there it seemed like everything I read featured a messy romantic situation and I’ve become pretty tired of it. This series is still good but I can’t help but feel that it’d be much stronger with the romantic issues resolved.

      • It pains me to say this but Kelly Armstrong’s Cainsville series is like this for me. Read the first one saw the love triangle coming and quietly said goodbye to it. I think if an author can inject something new and unexpected into how it’s presented I’ll give it a shot but usually nooope

  • Your opening paragraph almost hooked me… Until I got to love triangle and romantic angst. **Grrrrr** WHY!!!!!!!!????????!!!!!????? I am definitely NOT a fan of too much drama with my romance. I don’t think I’ll be rushing in to this one although it is good to know that it was still worth over three stars AND that you will read the next book.

    • I KNOOOOW! I love romance, and I love feels/shippiness/OTP stuff, but too much drama is a major no-no for me. It’s too bad, because this series is really a quite strong example of urban fantasy…but the romantic angle is over the top.

  • Sorry to hear that there is forced romantic drama in this one, I hate when series do that to try and keep things interesting. It’s really not necessary! Why aren’t authors getting this? I am glad that you still enjoyed it and are willing to read the next book. That’s always a good sign.

    • Thank you, Becky!!! You’re so right: there’s no need to add forced drama to keep a series fresh. There are lots of interesting issues that arise in an established relationship, for example, that could keep the interpersonal side of things interesting. Sigh. Fingers crossed that the next book (which I think will be the last?) has less drama!

  • I was reading this review and it sounded very good, up until… you guessed it… the love triangle bit. Gaaahhhh. Mention of a love triangle will turn me off from any series, no matter how good it sounds. That’s a little disappointing. Love triangle AND drama, naaaahhh. I’m glad you enjoyed the book for the most part but it’s too bad about the romance!

    Great review, Danya! Have a fantastic week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Oh, that stubborn love triangle bit! Trust me when I say that it frustrates me too, haha. The love triangle seems to have mostly settled down but then the drama rears its ugly head and I don’t know…it’s too much. There’s a lot to like in this book but Alex’s love life totally bums me out.

      Thanks Alyssa, you too! 🙂