Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 432 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: June 12, 2012
Series: Celestial Blues #1
Source: Personal shelf
Reviewed by: Jenn
Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets…and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s a celestial Centurion, assisting the recently, and violently, dead. Yet just because he’s an angel doesn’t mean he’s a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto to the mortal mudflat to collect another soul—Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.
Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let this sable-haired siren with hairpin curves come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to find the truth about his own mysterious death — and wreak some vengeance for the murder of his beloved wife, Evie.
Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Griffin’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, as well as the answer to the greatest mystery of his long afterlife …
Who killed Griffin Shaw?
As you know, I’m a big fan of Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodisc series. It’s dark urban fantasy with dense mythology, characters with murky motives, and an epic scale. THE TAKEN, the first book in her new Celestial Blues trilogy, is nothing like that. It has many of the hallmarks of the author’s writing, like well-developed characters, strong nd engaging plot lines, and, of course, Las Vegas in all of its glory, but THE TAKEN is definitely a 180 in terms of the lead characters, style, and tone. Vicki Pettersson has been very clear about this throughout her promotion for this book, which I appreciate. Don’t get me wrong — fans will enjoy THE TAKEN but you definitely shouldn’t expect the same type of story. There are no comic books or Kairos in the Celestial Blues trilogy (yet?).
THE TAKEN is an appealing mix of hard-boiled detective noir and urban fantasy. I read an interview with Vicki Pettersson where she described the book as paranormal noir (I can’t find the link and I feel terrible about that) and I think that’s really appropriate. There are strong paranormal elements and also a distinctly noir feel, which I love since I have a soft spot for those hard-boiled detective stories filled with trench coats and dames. =) Grif is definitely that 1950’s guy and Kit, with her love of rockabilly, fits into the dame role rather well.
This book is also a departure from Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series in that there are two points of view. We get most of the story from Grif’s perspective but we also get some insights into Kit and how her mind works. I can only imagine how challenging it was to keep it straight but it definitely adds a lot to the story. THE TAKEN is Grif’s story but it’s nice to get Kit’s perspective on everything since she’s the one thrown into a world she never knew existed. Grif is also thrown for a loop since he has to live in modern times now but Kit eases his transition in ways he can’t really reciprocate.
I have to say, though, that it did take me a while to like Kit. She’s not the type of heroine you usually see in urban fantasy or paranormal romance. She’s exceptionally feminine and oriented toward more traditionally female pursuits, she doesn’t have supernatural powers or gifts, and she often takes a more secondary role to Grif. It all builds her character and I did like her by the end of THE TAKEN but it took some time for her to win me over. Thankfully, she’s got a good brain and a lot of other qualities that make her a good partner for Grif, even if she does need to stop and get her hair pinned to help her think. My slow-to-warm reaction is more a matter of personal preference in what I like in a protagonist than anything else. Kit’s a well developed character with a clear personality and strong sense of self; it just took a little for me to come around to her because I prefer my ladies a little more alpha. =) Grif, on the other hand, I loved from the get-go. There’s something about him that really clicked for me. We learn so much about him in THE TAKEN but there are still big questions that remain unanswered, especially the one that motivates Grif: who killed him?? I have absolutely no idea based on THE TAKEN and can only hope that Grif and Kit make some headway when the next book comes out.
All in all, THE TAKEN is a great addition to the genre. The rockabilly elements combined with the paranormal noir vibe make the Celestial Blues truly unique and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Rest assured, if Vicki Pettersson writes it, I will read it!