The Flooze's Reviews > Spirit Dances

Spirit Dances by C.E. Murphy
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's review
Feb 22, 12

bookshelves: urban-fantasy-paranormal, owned, vanquished_2011
Read from May 21 to 22, 2011, read count: 1

That was exciting.

Spirit Dances is probably the most cohesive, well-plotted story since the first of the series. It takes all of Murphy’s promises and hints and brings them to the fore in the great mash-up of change and progress I hoped was on its way. Although I’ve been frustrated at times by Joanne’s brute force way of dealing with magic, this installment strongly reinforces the idea of a build-up to transition. It’s now very clear that Joanne had to undergo all her flailing and wailing to prepare for the next step.

Although there’s no Gary (how dare he go on vacation?), there is a lot of Morrison. His reactions are priceless, and though he’s frequently exasperated we’re keenly aware of how much he, too, has changed over the course of the series. Or perhaps Jo has gotten more adept at understanding him, despite the confusion he causes her. Either way, it was delightful to finally have them share numerous scenes outside the office. Joanne repeatedly puts her foot in her mouth; her mortification was hilarious. Morrison confirms that the man behind the badge is just as intriguing and attractive as I hoped. I’ve been waiting forever for these two to communicate properly but in hindsight the timing was perfect.

In light of a recent conversation, I feel compelled to point out: Joanne has had a few different men interested in her over the last year, and sometimes she’s shared that attraction. However, it isn’t a case of the UF heroine drawing men in against all logic. I like Joanne, and I can fully understand why these men would as well. We get the impression she’s a knockout, but in a very unassuming, tomboyish way. We also know her looks aren’t the primary factor. She’s good-natured and infinitely well-meaning. She prompts so many amused looks in her friends and colleagues that she seems to radiate humor. She’s got enough doubt and concern to slice through any potential arrogance. Plus, she’s willing to give credit where credit is due and to call on others for help, keeping her approachable and connected. Her fear of becoming emotionally involved with others makes all this more remarkable. Hurrah for a UF heroine whose personality validates the loyalties she’s won.

Those loyalties extend out from this plane of existence into the spiritual one. Joanne’s guides are becoming an integral part of the story and I love how their inclusion ups the tangibility of her magic. Spirit Dances incorporates some of the most coherent metaphysical workings to date. Maybe Murphy‘s interpretations have improved, maybe I‘ve just gotten used to the magic system - but I suspect it might also be a purposeful shift as Joanne gains knowledge. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful that her abilities are now easier to grasp.

The focus of Spirit Dances stays on Jo’s magic rather than her police work - I found I was grateful for that as well. This was the first time I felt her shamanism take precedence over her detective identity, a shift that‘s appropriate and brings Joanne closer to realizing her potential.

And then we’ve got the ending. It’s one that’s got me all geared up and excited and almost makes me wish I’d held off on reading book six. A year seems a long time to wait when the final pages have Joanne poised on the brink of Exciting Discoveries. What’s been a comfortable and pleasant ride has suddenly turned into a MustHaveNewBookNow experience. Raven Calls can’t come out fast enough!
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Reading Progress

05/22/2011 page 167
45.0% "The more Joanne's described, the more annoyed I get at the cover image. They should include her jewelry at least!"

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