Audiobook Review: Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest
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 (Overall): 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Series: Stand Alone/Book 1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (October 26, 2021)
Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
Narrator: Ulka Mohanty
Grave Reservations was very different from anything I’ve read from Cherie Priest in the past, but I loved it! A mix of mystery and the supernatural and with a great healthy dose of humor, the story introduces readers to Leda Foley, just your average struggling travel agent doing her best to get her clients from one point to another. But Leda also has a secret, one she wants to keep on the down low lest people think she’s crazy. After all, how can she explain the way she can tell the future, based on the hunches she sometimes gets? Of course, it doesn’t help that her talent comes and goes, and her accuracy is wildly inconsistent. Better just to keep it to herself, and so the only other person who knows about her psychic powers is her bestie Niki.
But then one day, Leda gets one of those feelings and abruptly cancels the flight of one her clients, booking him on another. The client, Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt, is annoyed at first, but then as his original plane bursts into flame on the tarmac, he realizes that Leda may have very well saved his life. But what prompted her to change his flight in the first place? After making it back to Seattle safely, Grady goes to meet his mysterious travel agent to find out more about her. Leda is left with no choice but to confess her abilities, but rather than react badly, Grady instead sees an opportunity to put her premonitions to good use and offers her a side job. For the past few years, he has been working on a case that he just can’t seem to crack, and if Leda is the real deal as he suspects, she might be able to help him shake loose a few clues.
I had so much fun with Grave Reservations, and it was the perfect book to lighten up the mood after a string of darker, more oppressive reads. The story shares some characteristics with the cozy mystery genre, but it also has some elements of an urban fantasy. Whatever it is though, it is undeniably light and humorous, and unlike a lot of the author’s previous work, this one doesn’t take itself too seriously, overall making it an easy breezy read.
That said, the premise is solid and it’s clearly well thought out. Priest uses the buddy cop trope to great effect, giving her two protagonists very different backgrounds and personalities, which often leads to moments of hilarious conflict and dialogue whenever they are together on the case. There are also a few quirky twists on the characters to make the dynamic more unique, most of which relate to Leda’s powers. For spoilerish reasons I won’t elaborate on here, she begins this novel with a lack of confidence in her psychic abilities, but wants to develop them further in order to help others.
One way she does this is also one of my favorite aspects of the book, where Leda and her friends hold “Klairvoyant Karaoke” sessions at her favorite bar’s open-mic nights. Here’s how that works: after handling a personal item belonging to an audience member, our protagonist would choose a song based on the vibes she gets from the object, and then gauge her success by the reaction she gets from the person. Pretty cool, right? I just thought it was such an offbeat yet brilliant idea which gave rise to some of the best scenes in the story, not to mention it made Leda more sympathetic and lent the novel a certain charm.
Of course, Leda’s involvement also comes with a ton of baggage. Her fiancé was murdered a couple years, and later we find out that it may have some connection to Grady’s cold case. The whos, hows, whys and whens are revealed in due course, and in the meantime, we get to follow along with our investigate duo as they doggedly chase down the answers. The result is the satisfaction of getting a novel where nothing is as simple as it seems, and ultimately readers might be surprised by the complexity of the plot’s murder mystery that belies its lighter, more comedic themes.
Bottom line, Grave Reservations is admittedly a rather unexpected shift in direction coming from Cherie Priest, and it definitely will not be for everyone. However, it does manage to show off a lighter, funnier side of the author, and you know what? I like it. I like it a lot. The entertainment value certainly can’t be beat, and I am hoping with all heart that this will be the beginning of a series because I’m loving these characters and clearly there’s so much more to explore!
Also brava to narrator Ulka Mohanty for bring the audiobook version of Grave Reservations to life. It’s my first experience with her as a reader, but I would not hesitate to listen to more of her performances, and should we be fortunate enough to see this one become a series, I would be extremely happy to see her return for the role.