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Wraith by Phaedra Weldon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441014972
Date: 05 June 2007 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Zoë Martinique has the ability to astrally travel. With the help of some friends and her mother, she's used this ability to earn a living as a detective, more of less. She gets information for her clients and they don't need to know how she does it. One night while bored and watching a target for a client, she decides to investigate a feeling. The feeling leads her to be a witness to a crime: a murder. That's bad enough but the murderer "saw" Zoë. He not only saw her he grabbed her arm and left a mark of his hand and a lovely Rogue-ish white streak in her hair. Now Zoë is changing; she's becoming something else, something darker, and with some scary powers.

Taking place in Altanta, Georgia, we have a chance to get to know a new city since Atlanta doesn't often feature in SF/F novels for some reason. Not only do we get to wander in a new setting but we meet some interesting off-kilter characters. Zoë's mother is a witch whose home and herb shop are also home to two ghosts who are part of the family now. A friend of the family also has magical abilities and helps to develop gadgets for Zoë to use when out-of-body.

Everything is so matter of fact, that you come to quickly accept these fantastical trappings -- not because of Buffy and other TV shows but just because, well, it's seems so solidly real within the context of the book. What did bother me as a reader was Zoë's lack of interest in learning more about her abilities and what was happening. Everything someone tried to tell her about some research they'd looked up for her she'd zone out and so we miss it too. But then, I'm me and this is Zoë's story so maybe she can't concentrate or didn't want to know the bad news.

Zoë can't help getting involved in trying to solve this crime. She desperately needs to know who the other wanderer was and why her powers are now changing. She's scared and desperate to go back to the way things were. She's never met another wanderer and she's curious about others with her talent. But the murder makes her think that maybe not all wanderers are passive information gatherers.

To add even more mayhem to the mix, Zoë is falling in love with the detective in charge of the investigation. She does her best to get him the information he needs even when he's pulled off the case because he's determined to find a connection between the murder and the famous Reverend Theodore Rollins.

No one is what they seem or who they seem. Zoë is given half-truths and fails to connect the dots on the information she has. However, what she does have is a strong sense of justice and honor and that core along with her desire to see the right thing done can be her salvation or her undoing.

While this story has a satisfactory ending, I can only hope that we will see more of Zoë Martinique and her family. It seems that there are still a lot more stories to tell as the hints are there...

Our Readers Respond

From Phaedra Weldon:
    Hello! I must say--I am very happy you enjoyed Zoë's first adventure. I was nervous at first, setting the book in Atlanta. I wanted readers to know there's a lot of character here, just beneath the surface. I enjoy Atlanta year round. It's a wonderful place to be.

    I can also assure you that Zoë's interest in what she can do becomes much more assertive later on. I'm also very excited that it was easy to read and accept the world--I wanted to write something that could take the reader away, and still keep them grounded in "reality."

    I hope more readers enjoy reading about Zoë, because I'd love to continue telling the stories as they come.

From: Linda Davis
    I loved this book which I'd hoped and am now excited to discover will only be the first in a series. I loved all of the characters in this one, and I thought the world building was solid. I didn't have a problem with her assertiveness...I'm not sure what I'd have done in those circumstances, so I can't blame her as a character for not pursuing it with passion. I especially loved her talent, astral nifty! I look forward to the next Zoe book.

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