Carolyn Cushman Reviews Voodoo Shanghai by Kristi Charish and Forced Perspectives by Tim Powers

Kristi Charish, Voodoo Shanghai (Vintage Canada 978-0-345-81592-7, $14.95, 415pp, tp) February 2020.

In this third volume in the Kincaid Strange urban fantasy/mystery series, the Seattle voodoo practitioner is getting tired of being pushed around by the local cops (one her ex-boyfriend) and her new uber-cranky ghost-boss, the sorcerer Gideon Lawrence, who’s teaching her new ways to use mirrors to manage ghosts. Then there’s the Singaporean family whose spoiled teenage daughter has come back as a demanding ghost on the verge of going poltergeist and really wants Kincaid’s attention. Despite not wanting to help cops, Kincaid agrees to go to Portland OR where it looks like a serial killer has found a way to kill from beyond the grave, something she didn’t believe possible. Kincaid and her dead rock star pal Nate end up in a swamp full of Otherside power, in an unfamiliar area with all sorts of complications popping up, including an underground city weirder than Seattle’s, a zombie horse, and a showtune-mangling ghost. There’s some weird influence around making Kincaid miss clues, but even so she manages to save the day, learning some very interesting new things about her powers and her mysterious boss along the way. Unfortunately, this ends with something of a cliffhanger – not good if this is really the final book in the series, as it currently appears to be.

Tim Powers, Forced Perspectives (Baen 978-1- 9821-2440-3, $25.00, 372pp, hc) March 2020. Cover by Adam Burn.

Sebastian Vickery and Ingrid Castine return in this wondrously mad sequel to Alternate Realities. Occultists keep trying to use an Egyptian heiroglyph to create a world god out of their souls, making them forget themselves – not your usual bad guys’ motive, but their success would cause others, maybe all of humanity, to be sucked into the hive mind as well. After a series of failed attempts in Southern California (one involving the filming of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, another involving a rock musician and some Hollywood types) the latest attempt is almost ready, but the group believes they need a special focus, consisting of two people with a special psychic link – and they believe Vickery and Castine are such a pair, thanks to their visit to the afterworld in the previous book. The two have become something of a legend in the supernatural underground, but somehow word hasn’t gotten around that the two were seriously skilled federal agents, and they won’t let the cultists go through with their plans without a fight. Unfortunately, they’re having odd visions; usually they see events from the recent past, but other images have started intruding. It all turns out to be related, though frequently not the way you’d expect, and the finale is a delirious mix of different times, ghosts, cultists on both sides, goofy psychic twin girls, a biker gang, seemingly crazy old people, and more, all piling on for the big battle.

Carolyn F. Cushman, Senior Editor, has worked for Locus since 1985, the longest of any of the current staff, and handles our in-house books database, writes our New and Notable section, and does the monthly Books Received column. She is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English. She published a fantasy novel, Witch and Wombat, in 1994.

This review and more like it in the June 2020 issue of Locus.

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