Average rating: 69 points, 3 ¾ stars
Harper Blaine, PI, solves paranormal mysteries with the help of odd powers she uses to see the paranormal.
The writing itself starts out not so great, but this is the author’s first series so that isn’t as much a black mark as I would give it for a more experienced author. The dialogue starts stilted but becomes more natural. The writing is a bit harsh and not terribly steady. The plots are a bit weak. However, it does actually get better by about book four. They never become amazing to me, but they definitely become readable without being distracting.
The plots typically revolve on Harper solving some case that is paranormal in nature. They tend to rely heavily on coincidences and the characters sometimes make random leaps of logic to solve the problems. The plots of the book as a whole rarely manage to drag me into the story, but parts of the books do occasionally grab me.
The setting tends to be around Seattle, but does occasionally go elsewhere including Los Angeles, Britain, and Portugal. It occasionally plays a part in the story, but for the most part it is relegated to the background, or even forgotten, unless needed. There are very few places that Harper sticks around in for any period of time, including her own house. She feels like a wanderer, almost, but really it is because she is a work-a-holic.
The world-building does actually tend to be unique. The powers Harper has, for one, are really not seen elsewhere. Richardson includes an amazing variety of creatures, powers, and cultures in this series. She even includes a lot of things that are just completely ignored or forgotten about by other urban fantasy authors. This is one place where the series is really good throughout all the books. Even the most plain of the books have rather unique world-building. The series does include classics in the genre like vampires and witches, though, too.
The characters never really feel like real people, they feel like the author has to guide their hand everywhere to do what the author wants at the end. They are very one-dimensional, especially at the start, but the do get better by the end. They just never really feel like characters to me, just props. Harper tends to use her friends as magical know it alls that are there to solve every one of her problems. There isn’t a single book where she doesn’t use at least one of her friends as something other than a friend.
The romance is very unromantic, and really is not the focus of the series by any means. It is there, I think, because the author thought a romance was a necessary portion of any series in urban fantasy, but it is mostly an afterthought. By the end, the romance was starting to gain some steam, but by then it was too late. She uses her beau like she uses her friends, more often than as if he is a lover. By the end, that gets very frustrating.
This series is definitely an urban fantasy series. It has a lot of classic urban fantasy cliches. The main character is a hardass female who doesn’t need anyone to help her (except everyone that she uses to help her all the damn time). The vampires who own a nightclub. The homey witch. A typical PI/detective like plot.
People who might like this series:
urban fantasy readers
readers looking for low romance
readers who like a more plot based story
readers that are okay with a not-perfect story
People who might not like this series:
readers looking for a more character based story
readers looking for a series that is solidly written
those looking for an atypical urban fantasy series