Brought to you by Guest reviewer Verushka
While Charlaine Harris is more renowned for her Sookie Stackhouse series, I’ve, yes you’ve guessed it, steered away from it. I don’t know why – I know the show (True Blood) is popular, the books too, but it’s not something that grabbed me.
And yet, here I am reviewing Grave Sight, Harris’ Harper Connelly series and I’m completely and utterly in love with it.
Harper senses how dead bodies; not dead people or ghosts, she senses where the dead are buried and how they’ve passed. She feels them to an extent too, and it’s how she makes her living – solving cases, giving people closure by telling them how their loved ones have died.
She travels with Tolliver, her step-brother, and Harris has created an intimate, sad and lonely world for the two of them, even as the strength these siblings draw from one another is palpable. Her writing is filled with restraint, and there is a sense of loneliness through her words that is engrossing.
In this novel, Harper and Tolliver come to Sarne to find the body of a young girl, long since dead. She was thought to have been killed by her boyfriend, Dell, who then committed suicide, and to some extent this small town is content to believe that lie, until Dell’s mother Sybil brings the truth out into the open when she hires Harper to find the young girl, Teenie.
What is engrossing here is that Harris creates the same sense of loneliness in the characters of this small town. Their lives are filled with death, and lies and secrets that strip away the façade of their normal lives. It’s painful, and those characters resist the truth as much as possible, and Harper and Tolliver are convenient targets. How do decent, God-fearing people believe in a woman who can sense the dead? What does that say about the afterlife? Harris doesn’t try to answer that, but she doesn’t shy away from the ugly responses that Harper and Tolliver get either.
It’s not a long book, but Harris weaves her words so carefully and skillfully that every word packs an emotional punch. We get to know how Harper and Tolliver have been shaped by their past, and how it still affects them. Here too, there are no happy stories, no ugly pasts they have overcome; it’s always with them, and something they have tried their best to deal with, often unsuccessfully.
All in all, this was a surprising read, from an author I should have started reading much sooner than now.