Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy

Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1)Book Details:
Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1)
By C. E. Murphy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published June 2009, Luna Books
Paperback, 410 pages
ISBN: 9780373802982


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 had a difficult time really getting into this book simply because I could not connect with the main character, Joanne Walker. The reader gets thrown into the fast-paced plot right from the beginning, but background information about Joanne Walker is almost non-existent. I kept asking myself why this was happening to Joanne, which is explained about half-way through the plot. Nothing is explained about the world that Joanne lives in in regards to the supernatural aspects, only what is immediately happening to her in particular. Why is she being singled out by these Celtic gods, and if there are Celtic ones what about other mythical gods from other cultures? While the plot is exciting and entertaining, the "world-building" information is lacking. From what I can gather, the only reason she is singled out as a shaman in name is because of her Cherokee background, otherwise she would only be a "healer." My question is, what's the difference, where are the details that make her so important and special? Plus, even though she is just discovering her abilities as a shaman, she wields them like a pro, as if she has known how to use them for most of her life. In my opinion, it is much more realistic to make mistakes with such abilities before mastering them, as with any new skill. I did find how Joanne behaves when she is recovering from stepping outside her body humorous as it greatly resembles a drunk, minus the cons of abusing alcohol. Ironically, that was when she was most interesting as a character. Joanne seems to be driven only by instinct and what her abilities are telling her without any real understanding of what is happening. More than once, she wanted to stop and think about what was happening to her, but that never really played out in the plot.
Also, I did pick up on certain similarities with the Patricia Briggs series of Mercy Thompson, such as the main character's interest in being a car mechanic, as well as the coyote presence. Joanne's snarkiness and attitude is also similar to Mercy's.
I give this book three roses simply because as the first book in a series, I am hoping that I get more depth to the character and world with subsequent books.

The Cover: I like the cover because it's a nice change from the generic pretty face. The details of her bracelet and her belt show the main character's Cherokee background, and the cave painting-style artwork in the background reference her new shaman abilities. These are nice, but her day job of cop and her main hobby as a mechanic are not displayed in any way on the cover, even though those are definite parts of who Joanne Walker is.

First Line: "There's nothing worse than a red-eye flight."

Favorite Quote: "Long cold note on a tenor saxophone,
                            life's brief candle, a moment in the dark
                            laid down beneath the blade of sound.
                           Let me fold a thousand paper cranes
                           longing for a wish that cannot be.
                           Loss is pure in its first hour, jaded by time."

Read For: 101 Fantasy Challenge, Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge


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