Happydog's Reviews > Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
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's review
Mar 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

If I were thinking critically, I could criticize this book - and this series of books - to pieces, but for me all the books in this series are raw crack. I bought this book initially just due to idling around the bookstore and read it in 72 hours flat. The subsequent books in the series have been consumed, by me, in an equally addict-like manner.

Joanne Walker, as a character, engaged me immediately. I liked her skepticism and crabbiness immediately, and the character has a good "voice." I liked the fact that she disbelieved what was happening to her, even as it was happening, and I liked the fact that she didn't know what she was doing and made mistakes.

It's perfectly valid to object to the occasionally off plotting and the fact that somehow, Joanne beats the bad guy handily at the end in spite of all. (Then again, if she didn't, no point in making a series, yes?) But to me it hardly matters.

One of C.E. Murphy's gifts, in this book and this series, is to write lucidly enough about weirdness where you can see it in your mind's eye. She also has a gift for memorable characters with strong personalities, one that she uses to her advantage here. Even if you don't like the plot twists, you care about the characters.

Another gift she has is the ability to hook you into the story immediately. She always starts with a bang and keeps going. She doesn't waste a lot of time, and the story is a straight roller-coaster ride from the front cover to the back with no dull moments in between. It's only afterwards that you might say, "Buh?! wha?! Hey, wait a minute..." and even then, at least for me, it hardly seems to matter; I've had a great ride!

All fantasy literature requires a willing suspension of disbelief. No exception here. And I would never argue that this is "great literature," whatever that is. The Walker Papers is meant to compete with Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, and other pop fantasy novels. No problem with me. I am not always of a mind to sit down and read Nietzsche and Margaret Atwood all the time, just the same way I will often pass up a "serious" Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed movie for one that features cave women, flying saucers, and radioactive zombies.

Urban Shaman is a tight, efficient, and fun read, and the subsequent Walker Papers books have not disappointed in that respect. Anybody can nitpick something to death, but there is a lot to be said for putting your brain on hold and taking a fast, fun ride with a skilled author. This book provides exactly that kind of ride.
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