Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kri...

Review || Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kristi Charish's urban fantasy series.

Kincaid Strange cannot catch a break. After dealing with a spate of paranormal murders, there's barely time to recuperate--let alone sleep in--before there's a new problem in Kincaid's world of paranormal activity. When her roommate, Nathan Cade--the ghost of a grunge-rocker with a pathological lack of self-control--comes home bound to a dead body, it's up to Kincaid to figure out how to free him. Ideally before her new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer's ghost, discovers that Nate is trapped in the body he'd coveted for himself.

When Aaron, a Seattle cop on the afterlife beat--and Kincaid's ex--calls her in to help out with a cold case, she takes the chance to mend fences with the police department. The problem: they want to interview Nate's ghost, which she can't produce. Then people from Nate's past start showing up dead, and what's killing them doesn't seem to be human. And the way it's killing them is especially brutal.

Nate's hiding something, but he's Kincaid's friend and she wants to help him. But she also wants to stay alive...

Kincaid Strange is a voodoo practitioner. However, she's not your stereotypical voodoo priestess! Twenty-seven years old, she's in Seattle, WA, of all places, doing what it takes to keep the rent paid. She's headstrong, tenacious, and more importantly, a little unconventional. Sounds like a great protagonist, right? She raises the dead to pay the bills. She's great at her job; Not so great at people skills. She's obviously more comfortable in the company of the dead. She's extremely likable, in spite of her poor decisions and innate ability to create chaos in her life. To add to the mayhem, she has a ghost turned zombie for a roommate, and an ex-boyfriend working for the city's police force that recently distanced itself from all things paranormal. Did I mention the sorcerer's ghost that pops by occasionally in her bathroom mirror, or that said sorcerer can't know about the zombie incident? Awk-ward. 

Lipstick Voodoo doesn't waste any time getting drawing you in. Kincaid is raising a zombie for the family to contest the dead man's will. It gives you an introduction into how Kincaid does what she does, how she uses the magic of the Otherside to do so, and how the norms while enjoying the benefits, are still prejudiced against the magic that makes it all possible. I think you truly get a feel for Kincaid right from the start. She's good at what she does and makes it look effortless, but those around her are surprisingly indifferent.  

After this engaging intro, the pacing felt extremely slow until about the 50% mark, and then the proverbial crap hit the fan. The rest of the book couldn't come quickly enough. If it feels slow, stick with it because it's worth it! I devoured the rest of the book until it came to a very, steep cliffhanger. It couldn't have happened better if it were a movie script! I know some people hate cliffhangers, but I love a book that makes me want to get the next one into my grubby hands immediately

Charish's world construct overlaying Seattle was thoroughly satisfying. It's gritty and imaginative. There is a diverse cast of paranormal creatures. Other than the ghouls, all the supernatural beings have retained their humanity, which is rare for an urban fantasy. There are very few characters that are unequivocally human. All the magic in Kincaid's realm comes from the Otherside. It's an incredibly complex system involving multiple forms of Otherside, bindings, and anchor symbols. The bindings come from all cultures across the world and vary in degree and difficulty. I think the magical aspects of the book are extremely well thought out and planned, but in practice, could use a little more asides to the reader as they occur. 

This is the second book in the Kincaid Strange series. I have not read the first book, so it was a little hard to orient myself in the story. If you had read the first book, I think you'd easily follow along.  The backstory is given to us almost right away but we aren't introduced to all the characters until a bit later. It's like when your grandmother starts telling you about people you don't know and you're expected to be invested in her story. If you've met them, even once, you go "oh, okay", but without a face to the name, all you hear is a Charlie Brown "wah wah wah' until she stops talking. I read the words, but they didn't mean anything yet. Eventually, as the characters introduced themselves to us, I felt like I got the hang of the who, what, when, and where. It just took a bit of repetition for me to get there. I look forward to getting to know some of the supporting characters better, especially Gideon.

All things considered, it was an enjoyable urban fantasy read with a flawed but relatable protagonist, a mixed bag of amusing secondary characters, and a well planned universe. 

If you love Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan, you'll like Kincaid Strange!

Get your copy here (affiliate):

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the opportunity to review Lipstick Voodoo!

About the Author

Kristi Charish

Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS (Random House Canada), an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker. 

She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast. 

Before becoming an author Kristi was a research scientist. She holds a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.