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Posted by Steve the Bookstore Guy On Monday, September 20, 2010

There are very few female Urban Fantasy authors who are able to draw in male readers as Kat Richardson is able to. You see, she writes more like a guy than her female counterparts. For us, this is a good thing. Because we are guys. LABYRINTH marks the fifth entry into Richardson's Urban Fantasy series following the adventures of Harper Blaine.

Here is the thing with this novel: you shouldn't be reading it unless you have read the rest of the series. Guys like Jim Butcher and Simon R Green tell stories that have more enclosed story arcs. We don't recommend it, but you could read them out of order and still have a pretty good idea about the landscape of the story and series. Not so with LABYRINTH. It picks up right after the events in London from book 4, VANISHED. There are terms you won't know. There are people you won't know. There are relationships you won't know. Get our meaning? Don't read this novel unless you are already a readers of the series.

The plot of this novel revolves mostly around Harper attempting to free the imprisoned ghost of her father. Really, that's about it. There are other sub-plots--mostly dealing with vampire politics--but the focus of the story is on Harper trying to free her father's ghost while she evolves more fully into a being of great power.

First of all, we didn't quite like this novel as much as the rest of the series. While the plot was narrower, it didn't feel as tight, and the pacing was up-and-down. While reading this novel, we should have been feeling a deep sense of dread, paranoia, and worry. There are moments where those came through, but we felt the pacing undermined it. We questioned why this was so apparent, and came to a conclusion. LABYRINTH feels like a great novella with lots of filler to give it the length of a novel. If a majority of the wandering around the characters do was cut out, the pacing would flow better, and we would have a pretty tight novella. But see, there's no real place for a novella as this stage of the series, so a novel was required. It bothered us, but we could see why it was done.

Additionally, the relationship between Harper and her "geeky" boyfriend Quinton was a bit flat here. It is mentioned several times how "geeky" Quinton is, and we keep being told that a "geek" like Quinton would normally never get a hottie like Harper...but Quinton just seems like a heroic gadget-whiz in this novel. No real geek this time around. We would have liked a tad more "show" here instead of "tell."

If you are a fan of Kat Richardson and this series (like we are), none of this is going to bother you too much. The supernatural P.I. type stuff isn't as prevalent in LABYRINTH as it was in the earlier novels, and whether you like that or not is a matter of opinion. Personally, we like less vampire, and more ghosties. You may be different.

You are reading this series for the unique premise, the well-described action, its humor, and its ability appeal to either the male or female audience equally. For the most part, that will all be here in this fifth novel. This novel is noticeably used to tie off some small threads from the earlier parts of the series, and also to set up the next novel. It's one of those books. That is neither good, nor bad. Richardson's writing is sharp, her execution of different ideas is well done as always. We liked the novel for the smaller idea that was there, and for what it promises us for future assignments. If you're already a reader of the series, this book should be on your reading list.

If you haven't already, you should give this series a try. It isn't for everyone, but Kat is a great person, and a great author. Go pick up GREYWALKER and see if it does you some good.

Recommended Age: 16 and up.
Language: Yeah, some. Usually Urban Fantasy has tons, but Richardson doesn't rely on profanity like other authors.
Violence: Not really. Lots of action, like usual, but hardly any bloody violence at all.
Sex: Nope.


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