Monday, 6 September 2010

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

GENRE: paranormal mystery


Harper Connelly had a lucky escape when she was hit by lightning: she didn't die. But sometimes she wishes she had died, because the lightning strike left her with an unusual talent: she can find dead people - and that's not always comfortable. Everyone wants to know how she does it: it's a little like hearing a bee droning inside her head, or maybe the pop of a Geiger counter, a persistent, irregular noise that increases in strength as she gets closer. It's almost electric: a buzzing all through her body, and the fresher the corpse, the more intense the buzz. Harper and her brother Tolliver make their living from finding the dead, for desperate parents, worried friends . . . and police departments who have nowhere else to look. They may not believe in her abilities, but sometimes the proof is just too much for even the most sceptical of police chiefs to deny. But it's not always easy for someone like Harper, for the dead want to be found - and too often, finding the body doesn't bring closure; it opens a whole new can of worms.


Grave Sight is the first novel in the Harper Connelly series. I am already a huge fan of Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels, and the author did not disappoint with the beginning of this book series.

The protagonist of the novel, as well as of the book series, is Harper Connelly, a young Southern woman with a very peculiar gift: she can find dead people. This gift was “given” to her when she was struck by lightning and now, it’s her job to find dead bodies. I, personally, find this to be a highly original idea. I’ve heard of other ideas relating to lightning-strike survivors: the survivors became psychic, or could read minds, or something else that is paranormal in nature, but the idea of being able to find dead bodies is the most original one so far and I completely enjoyed myself reading about it.

Harper is a great protagonist. She is a bit of a tough woman, used to being mocked and hated by the non-believers, but she is also very vulnerable at the same time, more or less completely dependent on her step-brother Tolliver, who is the one person who knows her best. They share a special bond, as they are both “survivors” from a dysfunctional family and the fact that they had to take care of their other brothers and sisters while their parents were busy drinking and doing drugs really connected them. I always love to read about siblings that are friends and love and understand each other. Harper is also intelligent, but she gets along with the dead better than the living. She’s not morbid, but the dead always send her a clear picture, whereas the living are not so easy to read.

In this novel, Harper and Tolliver, who works with her as a sort of assistant, travel to the town of Sarne in Arkansas to find a dead body. They do their job, but people are not very keen on the idea of a woman finding dead bodies. The sister and brother cannot leave town as was the plan, however, because people begin to die and something is very suspicious about this town. Very soon, Harper and Tolliver are separated and Harper is in grave danger. It’s clear that someone believes she knows something and would do anything to keep the secret intact. On top of it all, Harper has to deal with superstitious haters.

I had a lot of fun reading this novel. It is a mystery/detective story with a touch of supernatural and a bit of romance. It is quite an intense and suspenseful read, very well written and definitely entertaining. I am proud of myself because I almost guessed the murderer right. I had two suspects and one of them was the man/woman responsible for the murders in Sarne. I was still surprised in the end because of the reason the killer committed those crimes. It was quite shocking.

I loved Harris’s portrayal of a small town in the south of America, this time located in Arkansas. The author is from the south and she really knows how to get into the minds of her fellow-southerners. She captured both the general atmosphere and characteristics of the south, as well as of this particular fictional town. You can find all sorts of people in this novel, which, to me, makes this novel a genuine read as well.

I only have one small complaint. Harper’s gift was explained very vaguely at first and only after quite a few chapters did the author focus on the background story of her gift. It’s just a personal preference, I guess, as I would have liked for this to be explained in the beginning, like it’s done in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Still, it’s just a minor thing, I suppose. Also, the ending was a bit abrupt for my taste, but I don’t mind this so much in this case, because this novel is a part of a series. I am truly looking forward to reading more.

I definitely recommend this book to lovers of mysteries and the paranormal.

Read for the R.I.P. V Challenge.



The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Sounds good-would you say you like it more or less than the Sookie Stackhouse series? Otherwise sounds like a good book. I've only read the first Sookie book and Shakespeare's Landlord by Harris but I've mostly enjoyed both.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

@Bookworm: For now, I'd have to say that I like both series equally, for different reasons. I like Harris's world of vampires a lot, and I'm just now discovering Harper's world, but I really like it so far. So for now, it's a tie between the two series in general. I do have to say, though, that to me, Harper is a better protagonist than Sookie.

Blodeuedd said...

Perhaps I could have a look, I did try the first Shakespeare book but nah

Kailana said...

One of these days I must get into Charlaine Harris...

PS: I really like your header to your blog!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog

jenclair said...

I really like Harris' Harper Connelly series. Tried the Sookie series, but didn't care much for it.

Midnyte Reader said...

I will definitely try this book. I love the premise and I agree with you, the product of her being struck by lightning is pretty unique. Thanks for posting.

Shelley said...

I have never read anything by her, but I love that cover! Maybe this one would be a good place to start.