Even for a techno-shaman, a kachina in the bedroom isn’t exactly part of the drill. When Olivia Lawson wakes to find one towering over her, she panics. A Hopi god visiting the real world isn’t just wrong–it’s impossible. Or is it? Soon Olivia learns that the kachina is the least of her worries. As she struggles to save her clients, clashes with other shamans, and fends off the attacks of real-world vigilantes, Olivia finds herself in the destructive path of a malevolent ancient force intent on leaving the spiritual realm to conquer this one. Left with few options, Olivia is forced to defy centuries of shaman prohibitions. As she and her allies risk everything in their bid for survival, Olivia ultimately learns that the rules are there for a reason and that breaking them has a terrible cost.
I’m amazed sometimes at how good writers are at giving strange, new twists to the worlds they build in their stories. I’m pleasantly amazed by this start to a series. In the Techno-Shaman universe, people with the ability to tap into the multiverse or the spiritual realm composed of several levels have been serving humanity with their power to heal for ages. But in California, shamans are generally shunned.
I think society in general knows about them but only a few subcultures or those who are desperate seek them out. Twenty-something Livvy uses 3-D goggles that use an electromagnetic field and shamanic symbols to let her immediately fall into trance. Shamans who make use of technology this way are called techno-shamans as opposed to traditional shamans who rely on drugs and ritual.
When the story starts, Livvy wakes up to a kachina, Native American spirit being, towering over her. She panics and it disappears. Over the next few days, it would appear, agitated and seeming to demand she follow it to the multiverse. The appearances of the kachina seem to coincide with the deaths by spontaneous combustion of other shamans. Livvy is the only one who can and is willing to do something about it. A ancient god may be targeting the shamans in the modern world.
A very curious aspect of the shaman community is that they also shun each other. There is an unwritten law prohibiting attachments to one another. To manage healing requests from clients and any communication between shamans, they use a go-between who in this story is SK, an enigmatic dwarf with a hearty appetite and who seems to genuinely care for Livvy.
Livvy herself is a mysterious character. The author spaces out character revelations with a controlled hand. What we know about her is that she used to be a medical student, but dropped out because of a family tragedy. She has trouble paying her rent and is going through a quarter-life crisis brought about by her money problems, difficulty building a career as a shaman, and the violence she encounters on the streets. She is also a once-in-a-generation lightning shaman. Her familiar spirit is lightning instead of animal spirits. Among shamans, this seems to mean something tremendous. But we just get hints for now.
This book is a page-turner for me. The writing is fine and the plot moves along very tightly. The dream sequences are eerie. The romance light and unusual. Livvy’s vulnerability and courage as well as SK’s gruffness hiding a caring heart come across the pages clearly. The other shamans are themselves quite a character. There is a point in the story that just made me want to cheer.
Propelled by a mystery and structured like a quest, this book makes me rejoice that there are still really good new urban fantasies being written.
Thanks to So, I Read This Book Today for recommending the Techno-Shaman series. I am also recommending this to anyone addled enough to have stumbled into my book blog.