Hey! Happy Saturday and welcome to the thrilling conclusion of Renee (Renee's Book Addiction!) and my fawning discussion of An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris, and the Harper Connelly/Grave series in general, with cameo contrasts with other faves: Kat Richardson’s Greywalker/Harper Blaine books and Harris's Southern Vampire (SV) series.
First off, I’ve taken the liberty of blending the synopsis from Barnes and Noble with the PW synopsis to give you a general synopsis of the Harper Connelly/Grave series:
Ever since Harper Connelly survived a zap from a lightning bolt, she's been able to find dead people, a skill that makes the protagonist in the first installment of Harris's new series a tad more bizarre than the mind-reading heroine of the author's Sookie Stackhouse books. She can sense the final location of a person who's passed, and share their very last moment.
The way Harper sees it, she's providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living-but she's used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. She travels with her step-brother Tolliver, who acts as her manager and bodyguard and with whom she shares a thinly disguised physical attraction that they manage to keep at bay by engaging in casual sex with various partners. She's become an expert at getting in, getting paid, and getting out fast. Because for the living it's always urgent-even if the dead can wait forever.
Part TWO now begins.
Carolyn: You mentioned Kat Richardson’s Greywalker/Harper Blaine books a while back, as a series comparison. I read the first in that series and really loved it and plan to get onto book #2, but you read, I think, all of them! Can you talk about that a little? Compare and contrast?
Renee: I love how the setting of An Ice Cold Grave (AICG) (a harsh winter in a small rural town) was as much an element of threat as was the serial killer.
Kat Richardson’s Harper Blaine series is similar in that she, too, is learning how to negotiate the “otherworld” that she’s aware of, while trying to solve crimes. Like Harris’ Harper Connelly, she’s gained her abilities through a life threatening experience. Both of them are no-nonsense types and loners. And neither of them are kick-ass heroines.
However, what is a really big difference between the 2 series is that Richardson’s Harper is set in a Seattle that is as much a character as any other in the series. Often, the story incorporates details of historic Seattle events or location. And, Richardson does a great job of really bringing Seattle to life. While in Harris’ Grave series, Harper and Tolliver are itinerants, moving from town to town in each book in the series. Setting is also important to each individual story in the Grave series, but that setting is constantly shifting.
Carolyn: That is so true about the settings in both books. I remember that about Richardson’s series so well. The old time Seattle was pervasive, and even claustrophobic. And that’s my experience of the settings in the Grave series. It’s a wonderful effect. I think part of it is that Harper and Tolliver are outsiders wherever they are, and Harper in Richardson’s Harper Blaine series is an outsider to old time Seattle. But I think it’s also a case of great place writing with both of these authors.
Renee: Now, while the Grave series isn’t filled with sexy shifters and vamps like the Southern Vampire series, there is definitely some sexual chemistry floating around. Yet, it’s much more angsty chemistry, imo. What do you think?
Carolyn: How did it take us this long to come around to the sex? LOL. Angsty is a really good way of putting it. Harper and Tolliver are angsty, and I think readers can get angsty about their relationship.
To recap for readers not in the know, Harper and Tolliver were thrown together into a blended family as teens, so there’s a sexual chemistry between them, but also a taboo at work, since they are technically siblings, even though they’re not related by blood, and met as teens. So they are attracted to one another, but one of the questions of the series is if they’ll act on it.
Renee: Yes, I had read somewhere that there was a bit of a squick factor when it came to the potential of their being siblings and possibly being together, but I don’t feel that way. In a lot of ways, they really don’t have anyone else that they could be with. This is partly because they are always moving around, but also I think it’s due the their shared history.
Carolyn: So true! It’s those two against the whole world.
Renee: However, when it came to their relationship, there was such a awkwardness to their emotional and personal dynamics, and IDK if that’s was a deliberate decision on the part of the author or not.
Carolyn: I had zero problem with the potential of them getting together, since they aren’t siblings in any real way. As for physical romance, Charlaine Harris is definitely a “less is more” writer here. Even in the SV series, it’s sexually charged, but there is little sex. I remember feeling like there was a really powerful sex scene in the Sookie/SV books (her and Eric in the shower, then bed) but it was super short. Yet it seemed long because it was so dizzily built up to.
There’s a “less is more” thing in operation here, too. I’m always focused on what will happen between these two, but it’s different from the Sookie-Eric thing because Harper and Tolliver are both more beta than alpha. So, that creates something of a different dynamic. They work so well as characters being oppressed by townspeople, and you root for them, but….ooh, we’ll stop there!
This was so fun, Renee! Another great sleeper series. I’m excited to get the next book, but so sad that it will be the last—we are both mourning that. But, oh well. It’s a quartet, then. A lovely quartet.