11/22/2005 Entry: "Charlaine Harris' GRAVE SIGHT - good book (Lynn, Linda)"
Harper, the heroine of GRAVE SIGHT, doesn't actually see ghosts or talk to them. When she is near where someone died, she knows who they were and experiences their death. She makes her living doing this, cash in advance, along with her stepbrother, who provides management and support, both logistical and emotional.
One thing that is a little weird is that some of what she does echoes a little the necromancy from Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake, but as with the Sookie books, they are so completely different in tone, affect, and character that it is merely weird.
Harper has a deeply troubled background that unfolds gradually during the course of the book, as does some understanding of her relationship with her stepbrother and her (and his) relationship with the blended family they were a part of for a while.
Her power also doesn't come without cost. The lightning strike that gave her the power also left her with long term physical disability. That, combined with things that happened as she grew up, gave her strengths but also left her emotionally scarred as well as physically scarred. (A trait she shares with another Charlaine Harris heroine, Lily Bard of the Shakespeare mystery series.)
I actually found the mystery part of this pretty transparent, but the working out of what such abilities would be like was unflinching and powerful. I also like Harris's ability to be realistic, affectionate, clear-sighted, and unsentimental about the South and class issues, including issues involving loss of class status.
Realistic may be an odd word to apply to a story that involves a "fantastic" power, but realism, the "real toads" in the imaginary gardens (or wild woods, or small town tangles) of the story are part of what make Harris's work irresistible to me.--Lynn
When I first heard what GRAVE SIGHT was about, I couldn't help but think it sounded familiar. The heroine in the 1-800-Where-R-You series by Meg Cabot and the Rowan Gant series by M. R. Sellars came to mind--the Cabot heroine is struck by lightning and then gets certain abilities, and Rowan Gant is a practicing witch who also can see the last moments of the victim's life. Harper, though, also has the ability to find dead bodies in her vicinity, which was very interesting.
Unlike Lynn, I never even thought of the Anita Blake books while reading this despite some similarities. I think it's because the atmosphere and characters are so different. Harper doesn't try to deny her ability as strange as it is. She has totally accepted it as part of her life and is very practical about making a living by using it. The use of her power isn't sensationalized as much though you still see the impact it has on her.
Her emotional dependency on her stepbrother is very strange at first, but as Lynn mentioned, you understand as you slowly learn about their background.
I love Harris' heroines. They are never simple. While they aren't as dramatic as Rowan Gant or Anita Blake, they are always very brave in a quieter, more subtle kind of way. They actually seem more believable to me. The investigation into the killings kept my interest and there was a slight love interest though it was more comfort than romance. Very good book.--Linda
--GRAVE SIGHT at Amazon (Book 1)