Audiobook Review: Voodoo Shanghai by Kristi Charish
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 3 of Kincaid Strange
Publisher: Audible Studios (March 3, 2020)
Length: 14 hrs and 15 mins
Narrator: Susannah Jones
So I was already in quite a shock when I heard that Voodoo Shanghai was going to be the final installment in the Kincaid Strange series, but it wasn’t until I reached the end of the book that I learned the meaning of true pain. What a cruel cliffhanger! My guess is that Kristi Charish originally had a lot more planned before the publisher pulled the plug, which is a shame because this might have been the best one yet.
Building upon the events from the previous books, Voodoo Shanghai returns to the extraordinary life of paranormal practitioner Kincaid Strange, who has once more been tapped by the Seattle PD to help out on a mysterious case. In a recent murder investigation that has all the police baffled, a young woman has been found dead by the same MO as all the victims of a notorious serial killer named Martin Dane. The only problem? Dane himself has been dead for three weeks. If he’s still committing murder, it means he’s doing it from beyond the grave, which spells bad news for the city indeed—not to mention it throws a wrench into everything Kincaid thought she knew about ghosts and how they operate.
But soon after traveling out to see the crime scene for herself, Kincaid realizes with chagrin that she had been hoodwinked. Exploiting the soft spot she still has for her cop ex-boyfriend Aaron, the vindictive chief of police had managed to manipulate her into the working with the FBI on the Martin Dane case, knowing full well they would ask her to bind a ghost—and that is a line our protagonist has vowed never to cross. Still, against her better judgment, Kincaid finds herself intrigued by the many bizarre details of the investigation and agrees to hang around and lend a hand on other matters, if only to satisfy her own professional curiosity. After all, it’s not every day a voodoo practitioner gets to work with a bona fide witch or help crack the mystery of a swampful of missing ghosts.
Like I said, it’s a real pity that things have to end with Voodoo Shanghai, because it’s hands down my favorite Kincaid Strange novel. It’s also, I think, the darkest. The character’s quirky interactions with ghosts as well as the series’ overall entertainment factor sometimes make it easy to forget that Kincaid is constantly surrounded by death. However, it is not so with this third book, where death (or the threat of it) is always at the forefront. Even the main premise itself is disturbing, as Kincaid is first called out to help the unresponsive ghost of the young woman who was brutally murdered by Martin Dane. Named the White Picket Fence killer for the way he targeted his victims from middle-class suburban families, Dane was a real sick fuck in life, and being dead has done nothing to change that. In fact, as Kincaid soon learns, being a ghost has only made him an even more terrifying opponent.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of ghost binding. I believe the author has touched upon this concept before in previous books, but here it is explored in much greater detail, highlighting its barbaric uses and the way it robs a ghost of all freedom. It’s something our protagonist has refused to ever do on principle, even when it results in no small amount of workplace conflict as well as costs to her future career prospects. Expanding upon this storyline, though, has allowed Charish to work in a whole lot of additional world-building elements as well as background information regarding Kincaid’s personal life and her connection with magic and the Otherside. Again, it saddens me that this is the final book when we’re just now starting to learn more about the character’s history and what makes her tick. Plus, given all the introduced concepts and revelations, it feels like the doors have been flung wide open to allow all sorts of new ideas, but instead, we now have to say goodbye.
It’s frustrating to say the least, not only because this is a fantastic series which I wish didn’t have to end, but also because of the abrupt ending Voodoo Shanghai leaves us with. Still, while I believe it’s important to inform others that things end on a cliffhanger, I hope that won’t turn anyone off from checking out these books. They’re definitely worth reading for the entertainment, the adventure and the thrills—and that goes double for you urban fantasy fans. All in all, this series has been a fun and exciting journey full of new experiences and surprises, and maybe, just maybe, one day Kincaid Strange will ride again. Hey, I can always hope! What’s not in question though, is Kristi Charish’s talents for storytelling, world-building and character development, which are always top-notch, and I’ll be on board for whatever project she writes next.