"An Enticing Mix of Humor and Paranormal Thrills"
Reviewed by Diana Troldahl
Posted June 24, 2011
Paranormal | Fantasy Urban
When disembodied feet start turning up, all lefties, Alex
Craft is called in by the Nekros City Police Department to
give her take on the situation. Her business Tongues for
the Dead fills a niche in the market (how else to find out
where Great Aunt Selma hid the silver?) But trying to raise
an entire spirit from such a small footie remnant is beyond
her skills. Then the fae get involved, threatening her with
all sorts of mischief should she not drop the case; and then
seemingly random attacks by constructs (a very odd mixture
of witch and fae magic) start targeting Alex and her friends.
Her old pal (and wanna-be lover) Death is showing up all
moony-eyed and she hasn't heard from Fae Investigation
Bureau agent Falin Andrews since their night of mattress-
romping. Then again, with a serial killer (or at least a
serial amputator) on the loose she has bigger things to
worry about than her love life.
GRAVE DANCE has got to be one of the ten best urban
fantasies I've read. Since I am a voracious reader, that
means they have beaten at least seventy others to hit my top
Alex is funky, funny, and far from invulnerable. Her special
gifts are powerful but provide little to no defense against
the enemies she comes up against, which makes for a
rollercoaster ride in book form. Her more mundane friends
ground the story firmly in reality while the dangers
approaching from the lands of the Fae as well as the ghosts
her talents attract brings an eerie edge to the tale. Price
has written a well-balanced story with GRAVE DANCE, the
second in the Alex Craft series (after Grave Witch).
Her writing style has me hooked and I plan to pick up the
books in her other series, Haven, while I wait for more.
Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never
met Alex Craft.
After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a
sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to
solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in
turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation
Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word
confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the
distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a
The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange
investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City.
The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of
them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex
has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have
to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she
begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic
comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure
the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.
ExcerptWhen I first straddled the chasm between the land of the
dead and the world of the living, I accidentally raised the
shade of our recently deceased Pekinese. The former
champion dog floating around our backyard resulted in my
father shipping me off to a wyrd boarding school. Seventeen
years later, I still reached across that chasm, but now I
got paid to do it.
"That isn't a body, John," I said, staring at the open
black bag. "It's a foot." A pale, bloated, waterlogged
John Matthews, personal friend and one of the best homicide
detectives in Nekros City, nodded. "It's a left foot, to
precise, and I have two more back at the morgue. What can
you tell me?"
I frowned and nudged the toe of my boot at a clump of grass
sprouting between chunks of loose gravel. My business cards
read: alex craft, lead private investigator and grave witch
for tongues for the dead. I was actually the owner and only
employee of the firm, but that was beside the point. I
raised shades and gave the living a chance to question the
dead—for a fee. My work tended to take me to a lot of
graveyards, the occasional funeral home, and to the Nekros
City morgue. The parking pit for the Sionan Floodplain
Nature Preserve was most definitely not my typical working
environment. Nor was a single severed appendage my typical
"Sorry, John, but I need more than a foot to raise a
"And I need some better news." His shoulders slumped as
he'd deflated. "We've been scouring this swamp for two
and we're turning up more questions than answers. We've
no ID on the vics, no obvious cause of death, and no
primary crime scene. You sure you can't give me anything?
As he spoke, he shoved the flap on the body bag farther
open with the butt of his pen.
The foot lay in a sea of black plastic. The sickly scent of
rot filled the humid afternoon air, coating the inside of
my nose, my throat. The bloodless skin had sloughed off the
exposed ankle, the strips of yellowish flesh shriveling. My
stomach twisted and I looked away. I'd leave the physical
inspection to the medical examiner—my affinity for
the dead was less tangible and more spectral. Memories hid
in every cell of the body. Memories that my grave magic
could unlock and give shape as a shade. Of course, that
depended on having enough of the body—and thus
cells—at my disposal for my magic to fill in the
gaps. I didn't need to cast a magic circle and begin a
ritual to know I couldn't pull a shade from the foot. I
could sense that fact, the same way I could sense that the
foot had belonged to a male, probably in his late sixties.
I could also sense the nasty tangle of spells all but
dripping from the decaying appendage.
"The foot is saturated with magic. Some pretty dark stuff
from the feel of it," I said, taking a step back from the
gurney and the sticky residual magic emanating from the
foot. "I'm guessing you already have a team deciphering
"Yeah, but so far the anti–black magic unit hasn't
reached any conclusions. It would really help if we could
question the victim."
But that wasn't going to happen with such a small
percentage of the body. "You said you had a matching foot
back at the morgue? Maybe if we assemble all the parts,
there will be enough to—"
John shook his head. "Dancing jokes aside, unless this guy
had two left feet—literally—neither of the
other feet belong to him."
Three left feet? That meant at least three victims.
"Don't say that too loud," John said, his gaze flashing
a passing pair of crime scene technicians headed toward the
dense old-growth forest. "No official determination yet,
but yeah, I'm thinking serial." His grizzly
bear–sized form sagged further and his mustache
twitched as he frowned. The mustache had been a thick red
accent to his expressions as long as I'd known him, but in
the weeks since he'd woken from a spell-induced coma,
slivers of gray had joined the red. He pushed the flap of
the body bag closed. "Park rangers found the first foot
yesterday morning when they were checking the paths after
the recent flooding. We got wardens and cadaver dogs out
here and the second foot turned up. When we found the
third, I pulled some strings to hire you as a consultant."
"Do you want me to stick around? Wait and see if your guys
find more of the body?"
"Actually"—John rubbed a hand over his head, wiping
away the sweat glistening in his spreading bald
spot—"I was hoping you'd join the search."
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