Greywalker #5: Labyrinth

You remind of the babe. What babe? Babe with the power. What power? Power of voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? Remind me of the babe. …Okay, now that we’ve gotten the obligatory David Bowie tribute out of the way, we can walk into Labyrinth, by Kat Richardson.

Synopsis:

Harper Blaine was your average small-time P. I. until she died-for two minutes. Now she’s a Greywalker, walking the line between the living world and the paranormal realm. There are others who know about her new powers-others with powerful tools and evil intentions, and now that the man who “killed” her has been murdered, the police are also paying close attention. That means Harper has to watch her step while searching for the ghost of her “killer”-who could be a valuable clue in the puzzle of Harper’s past and her father’s death, as well as a key to figuring out who’s trying to manipulate her new powers and why. But with her growing powers pulling her into the Grey, Harper might not be able to come back out…

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

For the past few books, Wygan has been plotting in the background, scheming to use Harper as a pawn in his master plan. Now, free from all other distractions, Harper is finally ready to confront him head-on… and it’s actually kind of boring.

The problem is that Wygan is just too generic to serve as an interesting antagonist on his own. In the past, Harper has faced interesting and tricky foes like Alice the politically cunning vampire or a powerful poltergeist being wielded as a murder weapon by a seemingly innocuous human. Even that three-headed snake monster, as bizarre and unfitting to the tone of the books as it was, was at least a unique supernatural threat with interesting powers and requiring a creative approach to defeat. But Wygan – Harper assumes his plan is something cliche like “gain immense magical power, throw world into chaos”; but since she doesn’t know exactly what he’s planning to do or how he’s planning to do it, she spends most of the book stumbling around in the dark without any clear idea of how to oppose him. And then, when she finally does learn the details of Wygan’s plans, it turns out that it really is as simple and boring as “gain immense magical power, throw world into chaos”. Yawn. Goodman actually seemed like a more interesting antagonist for a time, when it was implied that he was actually pursuing his own agenda and planning to betray Wygan, but that never ended up going anywhere and nothing came of it.

Another thing: the accents in this series are getting out of control. The author has started doing that annoying thing of typing people’s accents out phonetically, which makes reading so much harder. It hasn’t quite reached Feersum Endjinn levels yet, but it’s definitely getting worse. Believe me; I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it, so I went back to Greywalker to compare the dialogue. Back then, Mara’s accent was only implied by the way she would occasionally use British-English terms like “lorry”; now she’s dropping the g’s from the ends of words. As for Wygan, I believe he said ‘ello for “hello” exactly once in his first meeting with Harper; but now he’s gone full Cockney. Just… why? You could just tell me that he’s faking an accent, and I’d believe you. But actually writing his dialogue out full of apostrophes for dropped letters makes it impossible to take him seriously as a millennia-old Egyptian deity-turned-ubervamp.

Well, the book wasn’t all bad. It introduced Dru Cristoffer, a potentially interesting new character. And it featured the return of Carlos, who is by far the most interesting character who was introduced in the first book and who continues to acquit himself well. Plus, the actual final battle against Wygan was decent. It’s just that the rest of the book was pretty much a slog, and those interesting scenes were too few and far between.

But hey, this book is the end of an arc; with the deck now cleared of boring old characters like Will, Edwards, and Wygan, and with Harper’s Grey powers having potentially been rebooted into a different form by her latest near-death experience, the series can explore new, interesting directions in its second half. …I hope.

Final Rating: 2/5

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