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Raven Calls by C. E. Murphy
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Raven Calls

by C. E. Murphy

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Joanne has returned to Ireland, at very short notice (but with a very awesome coat) to try and find a cure for the werewolf bite. Her decisions is further reinforced by her magic virtually dragging her to Tara.

But when there, and meeting up with Gary, she is plunged into her magic and into the past, to the old Aos Si rulers of Ireland, finding some surprising revelations about her ancestry and what that means and beginning to see the full scope of the Master’s powers and plans.

The magic gives her one last chance to see her mother – and to save her – and to close many of the damaged time loops that have been formed over the years of battling the Master. But the time when she confronts the Master directly is approaching…

Time travel. Lots of time travel. With time loops and paradoxes and all kinds of shenanigans.

This is a problem. It’s very easy to become lost and confused with time travel. The roving tenses, the shifting scene, the general blending of time and place can be very hard to follow. It has to be very carefully done to make sure the reader can follow without being completely, hopelessly lost.

Aaaaand, this is the Walker Papers which, among their many good points, also has a habit of leaving me completely, hopelessly lost even without time travel. The imagery, the description of power, the different realms – it all can be one confusing mess that has left me bemused and confused far too often.

So, The Walker Papers + time travel means we’re probably going to have a problem. And we did – it wasn’t clear. I had to stop and go back, I had to double check, I had to recap and sometimes I just had to run with it and file it under “stuff happened, I don’t need to know what” and keep moving.

There’s also a lot of unexplained references to past books. Now I appreciate the lack of tiresome recapping, I do; I’ve made it clear before that I don’t like recaps. But even I had to stop and think about some of the things referenced.

So, it wasn’t an easy read.

On top of that, Joanne felt wrong to me – specifically, her dialogue felt… strained. I love Joanne, I love her snark, I love her exasperation, I love her irreverence, I love her trying to understand things and being frustrated with all this supernatural stuff and being frustrated with herself over the supernatural stuff. I love the fact that frustration plus her early resistance to anything resembling woo-woo left her with zero urges to play to various gods and revered figures egos. I love her snark over grandiose, ornate magical talk. And I love her glee when she remembers or knows something in her limited occult lore – even if she is running around and showing her blatant 101 knowledge in front of the experts. I love her habit of babbling when nervous.

And I loved it in this book – but at times it was a little forced. Partly because she has grown beyond a lot of this and partly because it was taken to ridiculous extremes – there were times when Joanne came across as childish, bad tempered and just plain mean, snotty and nasty; which has never been her before.

So there we have the negatives, and I won’t downplay them, they are problems. But there’s a lot of good here as well.

I loved meeting up with Gary again after so long without him – and I loved the way he was there, he supported Joanne, he was a hero in his own right yet never once taking centre stage from Joanne.

I loved Catriona – I hope she will be an addition in the future and it adds that not only is Joanne not the only magic user around, but she’s not the only kind of magic user around as well. She’s also an excellent, capable, determined character in her own right without super duper powers to make her so.

I think Joanne’s mother needed some desperate fleshing out (as did her father – but even without him being there there was a lot of context added to his story – and I think he will feature heavily in the next book). I like that we saw more of her than just the narrow bit of knowledge Joanne had – but in the end I think she was still kind of hedged in as Joanne’s mother, especially at the end, and she needed more than that.

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  FangsfortheFantasy | Oct 31, 2013 |
Called to her ancestral home Ireland Joanne must use her ever strenthening powers to confront an evil that destroyed her mother. An enjoyable read. ( )
  dswaddell | Jun 12, 2013 |
Meh. A whole lot of stream of consciousness. There seems to be some tightening up of the storyline like there might be an end to the series in then next five books. Not the best in the series. ( )
  lesmel | May 16, 2013 |
I first picked up "Urban Shaman" Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1) back in 2009, during a really bad part of my life. Urban Shaman was recommended to me by a bookseller whose tastes I shared, and, I must say, I was immediately drawn in to this new and fascinating world. Since then, Ms. Murphy has never failed to deliver what I believe to be some of the most well written character development and world building in urban fantasy today.

Writers can take many directions with their work, and there are many demons out there, ready, willing and able to sacrifice the writer's integrity of storyline to the gods of marketing. It is the strongest writer who holds her story in her heart, retains her character's continuity, and develops the types of souls that Ms. Murphy imbues her characters with.

With "Raven Calls" Joanne begins to truly come into her own, as a Shaman and as a human being. There is great pain in this volume of her story, as well as great growth. She was, as a Shaman, "mixed up fresh" to do a job, and to do it well. Many things go wrong in the beginning of her life, things that cause her great agony and great loss. Whether planned or not by the being that created her, this history comes to a head in Raven, with an outcome both devastating and inevitable. In all belief systems, there must be pain before there is growth, and Joanne not only suffers the pain, but also begins to truly grow into who she is meant to be.

In this volume of the story, the secondary characters also begin to truly show their true worth and growth as humans (and, yes, not-so-humans). Joanne has suffered, and even died, for those she cares about, and you see, in this volume more than any other, that her belief in, and caring for, this incredible group of very special people in her life does not go unrewarded. You cannot watch what Joanne has gone through, cannot see her pain and growth, without either anteing up or getting out of Dodge. In Raven, everyone antes up, and it shows in their own personal growth.

There are losses in this book, to be sure. Two of the long-term characters must, through dint of the storyline, be lost. It hurts, but it is a necessary, and not an unexpected loss. Circles close, and it is time for that part of Joanne's life to be done. I was unutterably sad to see them go, but their part in the story was over. Joanne is, truly, on a warrior shaman's path, and a new story, in a way, has begun.

Several people who review this book are upset, in that they think the `romance' part of the book should have been worked out by now. Sorry, people, this isn't a romantic fantasy, thank goodness! This is a whole other creature. It deals with growth, honour, and doing what is right no matter the cost, not with `girl gets boy and lives happily ever after in a cottage in the woods with a white picket fence the end.' Not that I don't WANT the girl to get the boy - and the fact that the boy she wants actually understands what must be done and is willing to wait for her is, in my estimation, PRICELESS. Her love knows that, given a good outcome, Joanne will come back to him. Until then, he is her rock, her keystone, and she needs him to be where he is, who he is, and what he is for the time being. God bless C.E. Murphy for developing a "true" story line - a story line that doesn't lead straight to a bed instead of to the development of a woman's soul. Sure, Joanne hurts, and she wants, and she has to make personal decisions that suck, and hurt people, especially one person in particular, that she loves - but, by goddess, she is going to do what it takes to make sure that the most people gain, in the end, from her losses. She hurts, she bleeds, and she knows, deeply and without any doubt, that the people closest to her are willing to hurt and bleed right alongside her, so that she can do what she needs to do. Now THAT is an incredible author, with an incredible story to tell, who never takes her eye off the prize. This is an amazingly well developed series, with depth and breadth, and characters I would be proud and happy to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with in a fight.

A few of the characters stand out in this story, and beg to have their own stories told. Gary is, as always, a touchstone in Joanne's life, and he has his own adventure in this story, one which, though we aren't sure what really happened (yet - I know that Ms. Murphy has written the story as another volume, and I am dieing to get my hands on it!) but Gary comes back sad, and yet even more `Gary-ish. He is a character no other writer that I can think of has been skilled enough to write. At 74 years-old, a time when most men would be sitting in their rocking chairs, Gary is out there still learning, still growing, and giving Joanne that depth of knowledge-the baggage, shall we say-that, having being "mixed up fresh," she doesn't have. Brilliant!! Even Cernunnos has a part in this adventure across the seas, in an Ireland of ancient times, in the lower world, where all things are as they once were. We meet new characters, some who survive, and some who don't, and Joanne finally gets to know who her mother truly was. She is given the opportunity to know her mother again, and to finally accept, and say a true goodbye.

If you are having trouble understanding what is going on in Raven Calls, please, do yourself a favour and go get Urban Shaman, then each of the other books in the series, then read Raven again. This is a magnificent series, and, if you really do like strong female role models, strong secondary characters, and a story of great depth and development, you will not be disappointed. Me? I read every single one of the stories over again, from the start, every time a new Walker Papers edition comes out before I read the new one-C.E. MURPHY ROCKS! ( )
  Leiahc | May 4, 2013 |
SPOILER ALERT: It's impossible to discuss this book without referencing events from the previous novel, SPIRIT DANCES. Please don't read this post unless you're all caught up or don't mind spoilers from previous novels. (There's a bit of a give away in the blurb.)

As you may have guessed from me daring you to read URBAN SHAMAN, the first book in the Walker Papers, I'm a big fan of the series. Seven books in, I'm still completely hooked.

At this point in the series, Joanne's quite different from the Jo we met in URBAN SHAMAN. She's come into her own and accepts her shamanic gifts, though she's still not a master. She's also explored her roots on both her mother and father's sides of the family. On a romantic front, Jo and Morrison have finally taken steps in the right direction (squee!), thanks to Jo quitting the force. Unfortunately, not everything is roses. Jo learns best by making mistakes and her latest mistake was getting bitten by a werewolf.

One of the best parts of the Walker Papers is the cast. Joanne's one of my favourite urban fantasy protagonists. She's grown so much over the course of the series, both in terms of her powers and on a personal level. Her growing acceptance of her gifts and her heritage has been lovely to watch and I am so stoked that Jo and Morrison have finally acted on their feelings. And the series would be nothing without Gary. I love that old man. He's the heart of the series in so many ways and I love his relationship with Joanne. There are also a host of amazing secondary characters but most of them aren't in RAVEN CALLS because the book takes place in Ireland not Seattle.

Another great part of RAVEN CALLS? The story. It ties in so nicely with threads from previous novels. We get to explore Joanne's Irish ancestry and delve even more deeply into Celtic mythology, which is amazing because the world building in the series is fantastic. We get to explore Tara and watch Joanne fight banshees and werewolves and a mysterious force known as the Master, which instantly had me thinking about Doctor Who. =) C. E. Murphy presents a very different take on werewolves and their origin. It's thoroughly original and I can't want to see what the ramifications will be for Joanne and company.

Once again, the author has delivered an exciting urban fantasy tale filled with mythology, action, and humour. Readers unfamiliar with the series will the Walker Papers will want to go back to the beginning since the novels build on one another but you won't be disappointed if you decide to invest the time. C. E. Murphy knows how to build engaging characters and layered worlds. You're sure to enjoy the ride!

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1 vote jthorburn | Nov 3, 2012 |
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No longer a cop, Joanne Walker's inner magic draws her to Ireland and back in time to rescue the woman who, one year ago, sacrificed her life for Joanne.

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