Review – Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Urban Shaman  (Walker Papers, #1)

Probably more interesting for those new to urban fantasy but an interesting premise nonetheless.

Synopsis from GoodReads:
Joanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt.

No worries. No pressure. Never mind the lack of sleep, the perplexing new talent for healing from fatal wounds, or the cryptic, talking coyote who appears in her dreams.

And if all that’s not bad enough, in the three years Joanne’s been a cop, she’s never seen a dead body — but she’s just come across her second in three days.

It’s been a bitch of a week. And it isn’t over yet.

I have a love-hate relationship with Urban Fantasy.  It tends more towards hate these days, probably because I’m sick of first person females who end up in love triangles with supernatural creatures more powerful than them.  Well, good for Urban Shaman – it mostly avoids one of those things. (keeping in mind that this is the first novel in a series, so it could easily change – and I can even predict how, if certain characters aren’t one-and-done)

Urban Shaman reminds me a lot of an UF series I love but with one important difference – we’re in the process of tearing the masquerade to shreds instead of having one or more supernatural things being known to the general public.  This is handled very interestingly and I’m curious to see how it develops in later books, especially as our heroine and those in her life who weren’t already in the know will probably have to learn more as they deal with other threats.

Another problem I’ve noticed with UF is scale.  Urban Shaman can actually avoid this in future books because we’re opening with someone who has no clue they’re magic and is still learning what they can do.  Jo ‘defeated’ the Wild Hunt but it’s a temporary salve – and she doesn’t know what else may or may not be out there.  Murphy can throw pretty much anything at Jo and watch her and the others scramble to figure out how to deal with it, thus neatly avoiding the issue of having to throw bigger and badder at her with every successive book.  Not that this will necessarily stop Murphy from doing just that, but she CAN, and that’s important for UF that you want to go anywhere and allow for reasonable suspension of disbelief vis-a-vis what a squishier character can handle (since most UF MCs tend to be closer to human than the people around them).

That having been said, I don’t love Jo.  I’m not even sure I particularly like her because she just seemed all over the place.  Understandably, given the time crunch and pressure facing her.  But she’s the narrator.  I’m stuck in her head.  So if I can’t warm up to her POV in book 2, I’m not going to keep reading the series.

Well, maybe I’ll keep reading for Gary – he’s hilarious.

I’m also not sure I’m a fan of the magic system.  It doesn’t really get explained well enough for me to see if it has consistent internal rules or not, which I’ll be able to live with if it’s interesting enough other than that and so far it’s just kind of there.

3 out of 5 stars – potential is there, I can see it, but I’m not sure if it’ll be fulfilled.  Onwards to book 2!

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