Joanne Walker, or Siobhan Walking Stick and reluctant shaman, returns to face her powers that she can’t keep running from. After the vast events of Urban Shaman, she is intimidated by the power and the responsibility that comes with it – but she can’t deny the damage she did in saving the city last time, nor can she deny her urge to heal. After months of neglect, she’s finally acknowledges she needs to learn more, she needs to explore her powers and she needs to use them – to heal, to help and to fix what has been broken.
Thankfully, she finds a teacher who is willing to pull her stubbornly through the nature of her powers, allow her to explore them further and develop them to their potential regardless of Joanne’s reluctance; though Joanne still has a lot of trouble accepting – her power and her teacher.
And she can hardly focus on her power alone. Her friend, Gary, is in the hospital after a heart attack, giving her more impetus to learn to heal. There’s a mysterious murder in her gym which, her boss is thrilled to learn, has a supernatural element; and she is approached by a local witch coven who are uniting their powers to try and help fix the damage to the city and summon an ancient shaman from the spirit world
But the witches may be in over their heads, things are moving too fast for Joanne to keep up and she’s not sure who to trust or what to do as more and more demands are put on her, not all of which she is comfortable with. But is this reasonable or her own reluctance to accept the supernatural getting in the way?
Storywise I had a little bit of a genre-savvy moment that almost detracted a fair bit from the book for me. I basically pegged the villain long before the villain was supposed to be obvious. As I saw Joanne become ever more involved in the villain’s plans it was frustrating to me because the villainous intent was pretty obvious to me.
I can’t say it was unrealistic storywise, though. Joanne, because of her interactions with Coyote, had reason to trust the people she did. I think she threw herself too quickly and too deeply into the plans of the coven, but even then she did some basic fact checking before. There was no reason for Joanne to not do what she did, her every action was reasonable, even if mistaken, and it didn’t require foolishness or spunkiness for her to do what she did. Though, it did require a little naivety. I’m torn because I’m not sure how much of my objection is based on, as I say, genre-savviness and pattern recognition because internally, within the book, there is no real reason to be suspicious.
Other than that, the story is excellently well paced, perhaps a little rushed, again there’s the sense that Joanne has 100 things to do and not enough time to do it in – I wonder sometimes when she finds the time to sleep (she hardly does). But the number of plot lines going on sometimes feel like when Joanne takes some time to do something important, like visit Gary or look after Melinda’s kids, there’s a sense that she doesn’t have time for it. I think the author did an excellent job of conveying a sense of urgency – but the sense of urgency was so emphasised that it felt like Joanne should be running everywhere – and if she weren’t, what was she doing?