Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Vintage Canada on May 10, 2016
Special thanks to Vintage Canada and Kristi Charish for providing me with a review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Kristi Charish’s The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner…
For starters, she’s only 27. Then there’s the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she’s broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker–who happens to be Kincaid’s on-again, off-again roommate.
Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he’s tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle’s infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City’s oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She’s broke, but she’s not stupid.
And then she becomes the target…As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.
Kincaid Strange is one of the only legit Practitioners in the Seattle area, a region that’s proximity to the Otherside results in an unholy number of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies. Practitioners like Kincaid can channel the mystical energy called Otherside that’s connected to the realm of the dead, using it to contact spirits and raise the dead – for a price. Because let’s face it: the rent isn’t going to pay itself.
Given her familiarity with illegal work and zombies, it’s essentially business as usual when she’s tipped off that there’s an unchaperoned zombie wandering around near the docks. Doing a favour for a friend quickly gets complicated as Kincaid is stuck on babysitting duty for Cameron, a newly raised and unstable zombie. There’s something odd about Cameron’s Otherside bindings though, and Kincaid has a hunch that this isn’t the first weird thing she’s going to see this week.
Three months ago Kincaid was working as a consultant for the Seattle police department’s Paranormal Unit, offering her expertise in working with the dead to help solve crimes. But with the new laws and prohibitions against raising zombies and the increasing crackdowns on Practitioners, Kincaid is persona non grata with the cops. If she wants to make ends meet, she’s going to have to take on some less than legal cases – thankfully she’s got some friends in low places. Literally.
The Underground City, housed in tunnels under the historical district, is home to much of Seattle’s supernatural population. With its dark winding tunnels and impossible to find entrances, the Underground is the perfect place to hide Otherside activity from humans. Presided over by Lee Ling, a business savvy zombie and a personal friend of Kincaid’s, it hits a little too close to home when several individuals from the Underground City turn up murdered via Otherside. The real kicker? As far as Kincaid knows, there are only two people in the Seattle area who could have pulled these killings off: her former mentor and Voodoo Practitioner Maximillion Odu, and Kincaid herself.
Kristi Charish has a gift for creating deeply flawed characters whose poor decisions and self-destructive behaviour somehow come across as lovable rather than aggravating. As her Otherside use increases in her attempts to help Cameron and solve the murders, Kincaid begins exhibiting signs of dependence…and even magic abuse. But as I’m sure you can guess, she doesn’t take kindly to that insinuation. Similarly, her best friend Nate also has a habit he just can’t quite: his cheating ex-girlfriend, whom he plans to haunt for eternity. Add to that mess Cameron and his unstable zombified state, and these Three Musketeers are looking a little worse for the wear. I guess there’s just something about an underdog though, because I loved all of them.
The world building in THE VOODOO KILLINGS is also excellent, introducing a world of zombies unlike any I’ve seen before. Zombies are created by binding a person’s body (and their soul too, if it’s a sophisticated zombie) using Otherside. There are different bindings from cultures all across the globe, and the number of bindings on a zombie will determine how powerful they are – and how permanent, too. Given how unique Cameron’s bindings are, Kinccaid has a lot of sleuthing to do before she can solve the mystery behind his rising. And it is a wild ride, let me tell you.
THE VOODOO KILLINGS will capture your attention and steal your heart. Who cares about The Walking Dead, I want more Kincaid Strange!