Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Urban Shaman is the first of C.E. Murphy’s series, ‘The Walker Papers’ (as of this writing there are currently six books out in this series) centered around Joanne Walker. We learn a lot about Joanne right away: she’s pretty tall, she wears a false bravado about herself to keep the world at bay, she thinks like the mechanic she is, she’s just buried her mother, and she’s got a pretty interesting mix of Irish and Native American heritage that gives her her real name of Siobhán Walkingstick. Oh, right, and she decides that saving damsels in distress after having only seen them from an airplane while said damsel is on the ground makes complete sense. Too bad the damsel seems to be running from the Wild Hunt itself . . .
You can’t blame Joanne for not realizing that getting the way of the Hunt is a bad idea.
I absolutely love this book. It’s true that I’m not a hard sell: ‘First contact’ is one of my favorite themes. I love the exploration of different worlds and realities, be they fantasy or science fiction. I love the interaction between humans and sentient non-humans, be they aliens or gods or spirits or talking frogs. I’m very happy with the plethora of urban fantasy books that are out there these days, though it is true that they don’t all live up to the same quality. I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s books, the books of Richelle Meade that I’ve read (so far, only the first two of the Dark Swan series), I thoroughly enjoy most of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry books; I cannot sing praise enough for Patricia Briggs’ work. Those are some of the few books I’ve read that I think come closest to C.E. Murphy’s work.
For all that I’m not a hard sell, in some respects I am. I’m pagan; more, I’m hard polytheist. This means I not only believe that various gods are real, I believe they are real, are interested in interacting with us, can and do so, that there are different realms and realities that we can, and do, visit and interact with. So, while I really adore gods as characters, I also have a hard time with gods as characters. You may have read before – I have issues with all Celtic gods having to be faeries. Oh, I don’t begrudge the storyteller – both Laurell K. Hamilton and Patricia Briggs do it well – in their stories it totally fits the world. It’s still a pet peeve, and so, for beings like Coyote and Cernunnos to appear on stage and to not have to deal with the story teller trying to make distinctions between them (as if one is better than the other or more than the other or whatnot), was very nice.
The storytelling is very nice. Joanne is tough, without being overly sarcastic. (Not a bad trait; I do enjoy me my sarcastic heroines). She’s new to a lot of what she’s dealing with, and get to see her struggling with it, but like any good hero, she mans up when she needs to in order to get the job done. C.E Murphy obviously has done her homework with regards to the pagan scene – refreshing, again – and while some esoteric stuff isn’t quite the way it “really” is, it makes a good story.
So, if you enjoy Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Meade, Patricia Briggs (another pretty great mechanic heroine who is totally different from Joanne), I think you may want to check out Urban Shaman and give Joanne a chance!
(doesn’t hurt that they’re set in Seattle and are almost local!)