Any book with a blurb on it that name checks Tanya Huff and the Vicky Nelson series is a book that’s going to get my immediate attention. And after reading the summary on the back cover of Phaedra Weldon’s Wraith, I was quite prepared to give this one a shot.
Turned out to be a solid read overall: Zoe Martinique is a young woman who’s developed the ability to have her spirit go out of her body. That this is the result of the traumatic experience of being raped when she was younger is handled with a surprising amount of deftness; a darker book might have lingered on that, but one of the things I appreciated about this is that Zoe was presented in a position of strength dealing with the experience. I’ve read novels wherein the heroine was raped and wherein, quite justifiably, she was shattered by the experience–but in this case, while it was certainly traumatic for Zoe, it was more of a case of being a defining moment in her life where she first developed some magnificent ability to deal.
She’s since learned to take advantage of her ability by hiring herself out to use her ability for private investigation, and the story starts off with a bang when she astral-projects herself right into witnessing a murder. When she tries to learn more about what happened, she starts learning very quickly about layers of the supernatural world she knows nothing about (not surprising in Book 1 of a series), and gets disturbing hints about where her ability may have come from (her mother is a witch and there are Mysterious Hints about her long-vanished father).
Other plusses in this story are that the obligatory Handsome Cop Love Interest this time around was described in such a way that I instantly thought “David Tennant with a Southern accent and blue eyes”. This was a plus. It helped as well that the actual character, Daniel Frasier, is likable, and the chemistry he has going with Zoe seems lively without going over the top like so many urban fantasies and paranormal romances do these days.
About the only weird note for me was that as a narrator, Zoe was often very chattery and a little scatterbrained, which I found distracting at first. On the other hand, as the story progressed and the situation got darker, her narration actually was a bit of a welcome contrast. Towards the end, it helped ground the story with a bit of reality for me, in a way that going over the top with the darkity darkness would not have done.
Definitely looking forward to reading Book 2. Four stars.
ETA 7/16/09 12:16pm: Adding new text and splitting the second paragraph into two to amend some deeply stupid wording on my part! Thanks to for calling that out.