The stories that I want to tell, especially as a director, don’t necessarily have a perfect ending because, the older you get, the more you appreciate a good day versus a happy ending. You understand that life continues on the next day; the reality of things is what happens tomorrow. – Drew Barrymore
I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending that haunts our sleep so much as the fear… that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived. – Harold Kushner
I don’t know whether to smile at another great Joanne Walker book by C. E. Murphy, or to cry like a baby because this is the end. The last volume in this amazing series. And amazing it is. Ms. Murphy created in Joanne Walker, born Siobhan Walkingstick, one of the most interesting, strong and non-stupid heroines of all time.
Beginning back in 2005, we first met Joanne, a mechanic for the Seattle Police Department, whose life was suddenly turned on its head. Flying back from Ireland, where she has just buried her mother, Jo looks down from her window – to see a young woman fleeing across the parking lot of a church, and a man with a wicked looking knife. Jumping into a cab with a 70-odd year old cab driver, Gary, Joanne tracks the church, finds the woman – and suddenly finds that she has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers in order to save the world from Cernunnos and the Wild Hunt.
What followed was one of those series that I simply couldn’t put down – that I made a point of re-reading every single volume before the next came out. Well, re-listening, as Gabra Zackman (well, Christine Carroll did the first volume) literally nailed the character and voice of Joann, a smart but often fragile heroine, strong, hardheaded, and more than willing to do the hard things to protect her friends and her city. With her best friend Gary, a 70-odd year old taxi driver, and a diverse group of magical and non-magical friends, the series has held my heart for the last ten years.
In this, the final volume, all the stories of the previous books come together, the warp and weave of an immaculate tapestry, story lines resolved, lives saved and lost, with each character’s part reaching full resolution, whether in joy or in heartrending pain. Characters we have loved throughout the series are brought back to the story line in order to fulfill their destinies and do their part to save a world threatened by their oldest and most vicious enemy, The Master a monster of darkness, death and spite, intent on blackening all goodness in the world. And it is Joanne’s job, with the help of her friends, to stop the blackness descending upon the world.
As the book blurb states, and which means more than I can say:
Lives will be lost as the repercussions of all Joanne’s final transformation into her full Shamanic abilities come to her doorstep. Before the end, she’ll mourn, rejoice—and surrender everything for the hope of the world’s survival. She’ll be a warrior and a healer. Because she is finally a Shaman Rising.
I can’t stress enough how much I will miss Joanne Walker. She has brought me many hours of joy over the last several years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t go back over and again to read her tale. If you haven’t read the series before, start at the first, and work your way through. If you love stupendous, well-realized character development, meticulous world building, and stories which will make you laugh, cry, suffer, and generally run through the gamut of human emotions with the heroine and her friends, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.
Goodbye, Joanne. I will think of you often, and with great regard.
Note: I received my copy of Shaman Rises from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I have “honestly” loved this series from its inception, and will miss the exploits of Joanne and her friends more than I can say.