Vanished: Great suspense and a powerful sense of place

Kat Richardson book reviews 1. Greywalker 2. Poltergeist 3. Underground 4. Vanished 5. LabyrinthVanished by Kat Richardson urban fantasy book reviewsVanished by Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson has created one of my favorite urban fantasy series with Greywalker. Harper Blaine, her main character, is a serious-minded woman with a real job, a job she started before she died for two minutes and became a Greywalker, one who can navigate the eerie plane of existence that parallels ours. Harper can see ghosts, vampires and other creatures, and she can travel through time using the strata in the Grey. Harper is a private investigator and her new-found Greywalker skills help her with her “day job.”

With Vanished and Labyrinth, the fourth and fifth books in the series, Richardson deepens the Greywalker mythology, and Harper uncovers more about her gift and her legacy. Each of these novels is a complete book — no cliff-hangers — but they flow together to create one long, engrossing story of the Grey.

Vanished opens with Harper getting a phone call from a dead ex-boyfriend. That leads her to Los Angeles, where she uncovers unsettling information about her father, who died when she was twelve. Before she can figure out what her discoveries mean, she is called back to Seattle by Edward Kammerling, Seattle’s vampire prince, who sends her on a job to London. That assignment brings her into contact with a breed of vampire older and more dangerous than anything she has faced before.

Vanished has the tightest plot of any of the GREYWALKER books. From the time Harper reaches London the story boils over with intrigue and action. Richardson also adds quirky characters; a blinded Greywalker may or may not be Harper’s ally, and a set of oracles provide information with a touch of comic relief. The story has high stakes, though. Bill Novak, Harper’s other ex-boyfriend, who left her because he could not handle her connection to the Grey, is now the victim of everything he feared. He has been kidnapped and tortured by the asetem, the ancient and powerful spawn of a vampire god. Harper must rescue him and keep herself out of the hands of the asetem, who want to use her Greywalker powers for some terrible purpose.

London looks and feels real in this book — and not just modern London, as Harper struggles with 2,000 years of history showing through the Grey. The final scenes are powerful and suspenseful, and the truth about Harper’s abilities, and her dead father, are shocking.

Harper achieves her objective in Vanished, and learns more about herself. This is an exciting entry in the series, but not all the questions are answered. To find out what is going on, you must read Labyrinth.

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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