Harper Blaine, a Seattle-based private investigator, was killed on the job. She died for about two minutes, and when she was revived, she could see into the Grey, the strange alternative plane that abuts ours. Harper can see creatures and entities that are only folklore to most of us; ghosts, vampires and ghouls. She can also use the lines that exist within the Grey to navigate time itself. Throughout the GREYWALKER series, Harper has struggled to learn how to use her skills, but the fight has never been more serious than in Labyrinth, as she seems to be merging with the other plane. If that happens, will there be anything left of Harper?
Labyrinth picks up right where Vanished, the previous book, ends. Back from an adventure in London, Harper must face the ancient vampire god who plans to use her to unleash magical havoc on the world. Confronting Harper is not only this millennia-old evil, but her increasing sensitivity to the Grey. On her side is her boyfriend Quinton, the techno-geek-turned-street-person; Mara and Ben, her magical friends; her father’s ghost; and possibly Carlos, a necromancer whose loyalty cannot completely be trusted. In Labyrinth, Richardson weaves together threads of plot she has been carefully laying in the previous four books, answering questions that have been nagging Harper (and us) since the first book.
Richardson has accurately depicted Seattle, parts of Puget Sound, and London in this series. In Labyrinth she gives us a tour of Washington’s faux-Bavarian tourist town, Leavenworth. The description of the town and the high valley it’s in is perfect, but Richardson goes beyond that, making it mysterious and forbidding, as Quinton and Harper track down the provenance of a magical object in the ruins of the house that once stood in the middle of an orchard planted in a spiral.
Harper evolves in this book, but she isn’t the only one. We are reintroduced to Cameron, whom we met as a frightened, victimized vampire in the first book. Cameron has grown into a poised, menacing predator. Throughout this book, Harper fights to maintain her humanity as she is pulled deeper and deeper into the Grey. The most emotional transformation, though, affects Will Novak, Harper’s ex, who has been driven nearly mad by what he experienced in London and is stalking Harper, sure in some way that she can help him.
Harper also has to put some trust in the ghost of her own murderer. You want suspense? There’s suspense for you.
Quinton skirts the edge of annoying perfection in this book, especially when he’s conveniently pontificating about the history of labyrinths. I did remember that in addition to being a rather eccentric street-person, Quinton is a reader, a geek and a former NSA intelligence operative, so it is believable that he would know that kind of thing.
It’s common to talk about “taking things to a different level.” Labyrinth takes the Greywalker series to a different level — a level deeper into the magical system of the Grey. Harper emerges disillusioned, damaged, but stronger. I just ordered Downpour, the next book in the series, because I have to know what happens next.