February was a short month so it is already time for our second Book Chat of the year. Let’s jump right into the book details!
Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Book 1 of 8 (The Walker Papers)
Goodreads: 3.74 avg [14,595 ratings, 841 reviews]
Amazon: 4.3 avg [443 ratings]
Joanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt.
No worries. No pressure. Never mind the lack of sleep, the perplexing new talent for healing herself from fatal wounds, or the cryptic, talking coyote who appears in her dreams.
And if all that’s not bad enough, in the three years Joanne’s been a cop, she’s never seen a dead body—but she’s just come across her second in three days.
It’s been a bitch of a week.
And it isn’t over yet.
I loved the idea of this book and it’s another that I’ve wanted to read for a while. As an avid fan of Grimm, I love the mix of police drama and mythology. Additionally, this book references Native American and Celtic which isn’t a mix I’ve read previously. Regardless of my excitement, I still checked the 1-2 star reviews to see what other readers thought!
Negative reader comments:
–too many boring details
–characters believe in supernatural too easily
–magical abilities just appear – she doesn’t have to work for it
The GR average is a little lower than some of our previous reads but there over 14,000 reviews. Clearly, I’m late to the game on this one. I’m still happy to be here so let’s chat!
Too many boring details
I’ve mentioned it before – I am an impatient reader so there were a few instances of too many boring details for me. Yes, I relate to having issues with my contacts, but I didn’t need pages of that information. I will say that I enjoyed the details on the dream sequences! So again, just because I didn’t like all the details doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Also, this book takes place over the span of mere days. The MC is sleep-deprived and tends to ramble. It’s in character but it lends to the problem of too many details.
Easy supernatural belief
Again, I can’t disagree with this complaint. However, I also feel it’s slightly unfair. As this does take place over mere days and there’s a string of murders, there’s some urgency that doesn’t allow for long discussions. I picture this as the mother lifting the car off the child. No one can explain how she did it, but they are grateful she did. This is also the first book in a series so I hope that easy belief is tested and discussed in later books (but I haven’t read that far yet).
Magic is well magical
I also get this complaint – I really do. Much like the other characters believing, I think it suits these particular circumstances. I also enjoyed how she related magic to cars since that allowed her to understand and do what was needed. Again though, I would hope that more explanations would be forthcoming in later books.
I actually think the author addresses these last two concerns rather well in the book:
“You remember the first time someone you loved died, Billy? It’s like that. I can’t believe it, but I can’t not believe it either.”
Despite agreeing with the complaints, I still give this one a solid 3.5/4 stars. I feel like it’s set up a great start to a series with so many potential stories – some characters see ghosts, there are ancient gods, and there’s a modern world. I liked that it feels like there’s a spiritual edge to the magic (thinking good thoughts for example). It’s quirky which balances out the darkness. I’m curious to see how the characters progress and yet satisfied with the resolution of the first book. I think that’s a great place to leave a reader.
Did you read along with this Book Chat? What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment and let me know. We will continue the chat from a writer’s POV next so if that’s not for you, feel free to jump down to the cute cat picture and book links at the bottom!
Writers, who is ready to chat about this one? If you’ve read further in this series or more recent books but this author, I’d really like to hear your thoughts. This one brings a lot to the table for me…including the fact that there’s a crossover with Faith Hunter (Easy Pickings published in 2012).
First, did you notice the blurb? It’s only 94 words. With 2-word sentences, it feels even shorter. It’s in 3rd person and the book is in 1st person, but it suits the style and feeling. BTW, I went back to our Jan read (Soulless) and its blurb is 185 words. Additionally, the first Kate Daniels book is 150. I know many of us struggle to put as much as possible into our blurbs to lure readers. There’s something to be said for short and powerful in this case though, I think.
Let’s talk about the reader complaints a bit as they bring up subjects we’ve addressed previously – POV and world-building.
POV – I favor 3rd person, but I don’t think that would have worked here. In giving, Joanne a unique voice though, we get her flaws too. Many readers couldn’t get beyond those issues and didn’t connect with her. I think that’s why first person is a double-edged sword. It can bring readers closer to the character. That only works in an author’s favor when they like the character. How do you decide what POV works for your story?
Worldbuilding – I’m using this not just to mean the fantasy world created but also how it is shared with the reader. Too much detail and we have info-dumping. Too little detail and the reader may not find it believable. I tend to put myself in the MC’s shoes. In this case, Joanne is exhausted, injured, and confused. She doesn’t know much about her new world and we only know what she knows (again the importance of POV). The shorter time period and murder cases add urgency which allowed me to accept fewer details. Again though, not every reader appreciated that style. Do you have guidelines for sharing your fictional world with your readers?
As I prefer 3rd person and love the found family trope, I embrace having a teacher for my MC. It allows me to share the world building, have questions asked, and to even repeat info that my MC may have forgotten. I do want to challenge my writing though so I’m working on a standalone in my existing Rahki world where the MC is quite knowledgeable so that will bring a new set of challenges for me!
Now about that Jane Yellowrock crossover, have you considered mixing another fictional world with yours? Would you participate in a larger universe with multiple authors? Fred Shernoff’s Atlantic Island Universe allowed me to experience that and I’d certainly be open to it again. I’m not sure which worlds I’d mix with my existing Rahki world though. 🙂
I enjoyed this book as a reader and did learn as a writer so I consider this month’s Chat a success. I’d love to hear about your experience though so please don’t be shy. You can comment here or send me an e-mail to chat.
And that brings another Book Chat to a close! Thanks for joining again and I hope you had fun. Our March read is Storm and Fury (The Harbinger 1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout.
Happy reading and writing to all!