Title: Voodoo Shanghai
Author: Kristi Charish
Series: Kincaid Strange # 3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Vintage Books Canada
“Just when Kincaid Strange thinks her life is back on track and she’s finally put her time as a paranormal practitioner with the Seattle PD to rest, her ex (and Seattle cop) Aaron asks her for help with yet another strange and ominous case. Martin Dane, the White Picket Fence Serial Killer who terrorized West Coast families living the suburban American dream, appears to be back at it with a fresh murder in Portland. There’s only one problem: Dane has been dead for three weeks.
Kincaid can’t resist a paranormal mystery. Despite her misgivings, she agrees to examine the Portland crime scene. What she discovers is a place of supernatural power unlike anywhere she’s ever been–and the reason Aaron had been so tight-lipped about the case details. There’s already a voodoo practitioner on the scene: Liam Sinclair, a TV celebrity of questionable talent and dubious intent.
Kincaid wants nothing more than to finish the job and retreat to Seattle, but the deeper she looks, the less the murder adds up. When she uncovers a much more sinister mystery–missing ghosts, scores of them, whom no one is looking for–there’s no turning back.” – Goodreads
Voodoo Shanghai is one hell of a thrill ride from start to finish. As usual, Kincaid gets herself into trouble, and she seems to make enemies every place she goes. The novel opens with her dealing with an unruly ghost that’s haunting her parents because they didn’t make the right offering to her spirit. The designer purse was the wrong colour. This book is full of dark and twisty plot points, but there’s also quite a bit of Charish’s characteristic dry humour, which is part of what makes this series such an entertaining read.
One of the major appeals of this book is the dynamic world that Charish has created. The magic has very distinct rules, and much of the book is spent explaining how it works, either through Kincaid’s interactions with clients or through her lessons with the sorcerer who coerced her into becoming his apprentice for a two year term. None of this information seems dry, as it all comes from Kincaid’s point of view, which interjects quite a bit of gritty humour into every scene.
Voodoo Shanghai is the third and final instalment in the Kincaid Strange series, and it sure does go out with a bang. Unfortunately, while the major plotline for this book was resolved (no spoilers!) there was still a cliffhanger hinting at what’s to come. I want to see what’s to come! Gah, Vintage Books Canada better order more books in this series, stat.
Kincaid is a tough-as-nails practitioner, and she won’t let herself be controlled by the men in her life. That said, even her love interest, the Seattle PD detective Aaron, tries to control her to a degree, and I’m glad to see that she still doesn’t back down on what she believes in, even when Aaron pushes her. It was interesting to see her starting to try to be more professional in this book, even wearing a blazer to meetings with clients, and she tries so hard to not always say exactly what’s on her mind. Is that character development, Kincaid? Even with the subtle softening of her character, she’s still the Kincaid I’ve grown to love.
We also get a deeper look into Gideon Lawrence, the thousand-year-old ghost of a sorcerer who took Kincaid on as his apprentice in the previous book. Before, we thought he was simply “evil”, but it becomes clear over the course of this novel that he has his own moral code, as grey as it may be, and we get a taste of the past that has made him who he is today.
This time, the novel isn’t all set in Seattle, but a good chunk of the storyline is set in Portland, since Kincaid is summoned to work on a federal case. As mentioned in the Plot section, the America that Charish has created is incredibly unique, authentic feeling, and three-dimensional. The world of Kincaid Strange is similar to ours, but for paranormal elements which are all seamlessly interwoven into our reality, making for a believably dark and compelling alternate universe.
I recommend this book to those who want a gritty paranormal mystery with a strong female lead, dynamic worldbuilding, and lots of the undead.
* Thank you to OLA Super Conference, Vintage Books Canada, and the author for the arc to review! *
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