Labyrinth (Greywalker, Book 5)
Supernatural fantasy — with no romantic element — is getting rare, as vampires and werewolves become sexier. That’s why Kat Richardson’s Greywalker books are such a breath of fresh air in the genre. The author, now on book five, gathers some plot threads that have been hanging around since the first book.
Upon returning from England, Harper Blaine walks into a crisis: While she was gone, the local head vampire, Edward, was kidnapped. The gap in leadership, and uncertainty about who will hold Seattle, create the perfect environment for a takeover. An Egyptian vampire has appeared and appears to be attempting just that.
The key to taking down the rival vampire lord is freeing Harper’s father’s ghost from his prison. But to do so, she must become the kind of Greywalker that can rip a hole between worlds, which is just what the Egyptian wants. With help from her boyfriend, friends and even family, Harper has one chance to stop a cataclysm that will tear the veil between worlds and spell disaster for all.
While I normally enjoy this series, this book wasn’t up to the usual standard. It swings back and forth between being abrupt and long-winded. The book starts mere hours after the end of the previous novel, Vanished, and doesn’t remind readers about what they read last year.
From there, a glut of sub-plots takes over, and the story gets heavy. Too much is resolved — or attempted to be resolved — for a single novel.
On the other hand, this installment’s strength lies with the characters, especially the vampires. Some of their interactions hint at some background vampire “culture” that would have been interesting to explore. Unfortunately, we get little of characters working together, and too much of Harper getting into trouble on her own.
The story is heavy on setting and background detail, as usual, but it doesn’t take place in offbeat locations such as the Seattle underground, or the previous book’s London boneyards. Instead, we get a succession of lesser-known locations that don’t have the mystique of previous efforts.
I’ve heard that Richardson is contracted for six books, so maybe she had to squeeze a lot into this book, to get ready to wrap up the series. Whatever the reason, Labyrinth doesn’t have the pacing of the previous novels, although it has some moments.
I hope the next novel — the final chapter or not — returns to the type of writing that originally drew readers to the series.
Also by this author: Downpour, Greywalker, Poltergeist, Underground, Vanished
This review originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on September 16, 2010.