According to Publishers Weekly,
This book could easily open a fresh new world of urban fantasy.
I have to agree. Originally published in 2011, Shaman Healer Heretic brings a unique take on a story that’s saturated the shelves of urban fantasy, M. Terry Green makes it all seem new. Maintaining the fun feel that endears characters such as Laurel K Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan, and Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson to us, Olivia “Livvy” Lawson will easily be added to the list of names we have trouble letting go of.
This was a fun read. Sumerian gods battling in the purgatory-like spirit-world the Shamans are able to enter to help and heal their clients, was ambitious. I would have liked the direct conflicts to have been a bit more stretched out, but it was probably more realistic this way. And the twist, that’s not meant to be hidden, was well weaved.
I was a little disappointed that all the shamans in the book were female (maybe I missed a quick explanation that shamans have to be female), but a great job was done of creating differences in personalities between the individuals, to a pointed level that didn’t seem forced, except when looking back on it in hindsight for the purposes of writing a review 😉 Defining the different generations of shamans was a treat, and I loved the idea of the techno-shamans using goggles to induce the delta-level brainwaves needed to pass into the middleworld, and then into the underworld, versus using drugs such as LSD and ecstasy, explaining the changes that happen in a field due to generational gaps, and cultural morphing.
Using lightning as Livvy’s spirit animal gave her that main character trait that’s needed to set her apart. Her role as lightening-shaman is a rare greatness only seen once a generation. I’m very curious about the future development of this, as there was a severe lack of information about the whys and hows of this specialty. Maybe it gets explained in future books (of which there are 4 more). I like the techy stuff. I want to know the reasons and explanations, even if subtle and indirect, that make the anomalies real. As this concept now stands, I’m left thinking it was a cool idea left too underdeveloped to make real sense. The greatness of having this lightning was lost on me. I only saw the nuisance of it’s uncontrollability, with it’s inconvenient need to be directly controlled (which almost kills Livvy in the last battle), versus the semi-free will of everyone else’s spirit animal.
Throughout the book, there is the idea that shamans can heal in the underworld, and Green makes it seem like Livvy’s lightning is what grants her this power. So, how does everyone else do it? And why is it such a big deal if she’s doing the same thing as everyone else, only with a much more volatile system? Again, maybe this gets cleared up later in the series, but it’s a big enough point to turn people off from the universe M. Terry Green created. This is why we read these series’, yes? Because we love the immersion in the fantastical? Huge flaws in the mythology jerk us away from our submersion, and too much of this jerking ruins the experience, so we never return.
Despite this concern surrounding the lightning issue, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series to see how Green does with developing this character, and addressing my questions. A great departure from the real world, I recommend this to anyone who as an inkling towards popular urban fantasy.