Who by Water (Voices of the Dead Book #1)


Jo Wiley is an American expatriate in Slovenia, where she has lived for twenty-five years and operates a teashop.  She prefers things to be uncomplicated; no marriage or committed relationships, despite her nineteen-year-old son — far away from her troubled childhood in Tennessee.  When one of her casual lovers, Helena, is murdered, it awakens an ability that has run in her family for generations: ghosts are drawn to and communicate with Jo, including that of her father.  And the ghosts are restless as an ancient demon seeks to use Jo as a conduit for release into the world, targeting people close to her.

 “Who by Water” is a quirky paranormal mystery with a highly unconventional protagonist.  Jo fears emotional commitment more than death, but she becomes part of a complicated relational net that grounds her. At the same time, these connections make her vulnerable.  Jo is in her 40s but still discovering herself, and at the same time, acts as the paranormal detective of the piece.  There’s plenty of atmosphere in this book but the pace is uneven and some scenes don’t seem to further the plot.  Instead, the emphasis is placed on the interactions between Jo and other characters.  This gives the tone a schizophrenic feel, as it seems to veer between literary and genre fiction.  This is a very modern story, with frank language and sexual situations.  Ultimately, the climax proves satisfactory, in spite of meandering storytelling. Readers who enjoy books that don’t quite fit comfortably into a specific genre will appreciate this one.

Danielle Hill