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WesternSFA
Seawitch
by Kat Richardson
ROC, $25.99, 338pp
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Paranormal is normal for Seattle area private detective Harper Blaine. She has a special relationship with the otherworld, for a guardian of the realm Harper calls the Grey has appointed her to be the human interface for denizens of the Grey. When supernatural beings need justice, or vengeance, or assistance, Harper gets the case.

Harper has a strained working relationship with homicide detective Rey Solis – get it? Ray of sunlight? – and a strained relationship with her lover Quinton, whose career is even more secretive than Blaine ’s. (There are some good descriptions of the hazards of trying to maintain a relationship when one or both parties involved are loner introverts.)

When the Guardian directs Harper to investigate a ghost ship that has mysteriously docked in harbor after an absence of 27 years, Harper is teamed up with Solis because there’s a lot of blood in the boat. Is this a matter of insurance fraud? Murder? Magic? Blood magic?

Harper is able to see auras and magical energies. She sees lots of magical energy twining through and around the boat Seawitch, and extraordinary amounts of energy around a particular woman. But her attention is inexorably drawn to a ship’s bell that proves to be from another doomed ship, the Valencia , which sank many years ago.

Eventually Harper gets help of a dubious sort from a clan of supernaturals; which she and her allies are going to need, for their enemy has allies too.

The descriptions of Harper’s Sights are eye-opening; the interweaving of folklore, history, traditions and beliefs provides depth and color. Richardson makes her characters and their adventures plausible; even the peripheral character have nuance and pathos. We find out much more about Rey in this book, in the wake of Harper finally having the “I see ghosts” talk with him. Kat is a wonderful writer, and she clearly has a great support team. The cover art is of exceptionally high caliber: not only does it really, really match the content, Chris McGrath manages to give the brunette protagonist something of the look of the author herself.

A haunting blend of supernatural mystery, historical tragedy, love, loss, magic, and redemption, Seawitch is a splendid book. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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