I don’t know what it is about C.E. Murphy’s books, but apparently I have a pattern with them.
A while ago, I read the first book in The Walker Papers, called Urban Shaman, and I was not impressed with it. I didn’t like how Murphy mixed Native American and Irish legends in a first book (a shaman confronts the Wild Hunt) and generally, the disbelief of the main character kind of started to annoy me. Joanne Walker was a shaman, she knew what she was signing up for and now she was shying away from it.
But recently, I read the second book in the series, Thunderbird Falls and I liked this book much better. I don’t know why. Maybe because it was more along the lines of what I expected, with references to the various Native American tribes, searching for power animals, and drumbeats and meditation. I know nothing about Native American rituals for shamanism, but this felt real. There is a battle between the giant snake and a thunderbird, Joanne is guided by a Coyote spirit, this all made sense to me.
And for some reason, now I could appreciate Joanne’s reluctance about being a shaman. She accepted the magic in order to live, but she didn’t really believe it and she doesn’t really want it. She has spent the six months since Urban Shaman doing nothing about her magic, which comes back to haunt her. In thunderbird, she is tricked by a spirit and nearly brings the destruction of the world, but she thinks that she is fixing the problems she created when she defeated the Wild Hunt.
I like the fact that it is the second book and Joanne is still a newbie; she doesn’t know how to suddenly control her abilities or what to use them for. She is susceptible to tricksters and malevolent forces and she often reaches for forces that are beyond her control.
There is also more character development, so the reader sees some of what has shaped Joanne. When she was fifteen, she was pregnant and gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, but the girl was too small to live and Joanne gave up the boy because she couldn’t take care of him. And this event has had a great impact on her life, even twelve years later. It continues to haunt her memories and she doesn’t want to confront it. Some of her feelings about her mother are also pushed forward, but those she is able to push aside more easily.
And, the man who has the potential to be a romantic interest is the man she doesn’t get along with at all. He’s her Captain on the police force, so there is some need to please him, but she would rather annoy him. As I read their interactions, I know that in any other book, they would eventually get together, but I think that it is more interesting for Murphy to keep them apart.
So, considering that I didn’t like Urban Shaman but enjoyed Thunderbird Falls, I will try the next book in the series, which is Coyote Dreams, I think. But I seem to be holding a pattern, since I didn’t like the Queen’s Bastard but enjoyed Pretender’s Crown and those were also by C.E. Murphy. Maybe I’ll have to find another of her series and see what happens. But only if they are at my library.