Here are two paranormal series written on a theme, a woman who can see how and when people die, one in hindsight and other as foresight. The Harper Connelly Series is the invention of Charlaine Harris who is known for several series including Sookie Stackhouse in the Southern Vampire Mysteries. The other by Chuck Wendig is the Blackbirds Series. Wendig is also a screenwriter, blogger and game designer. Both are excellent writers, but with very different writing styles.
Harper Connelly has it rough. After being struck by lightning at the age of 15 she can find missing people’s remains. She can feel the dead and find their final resting place, and then experiences their death. The drawback is if it is murder she can’t see the killer. Skeptics and believers both hire her to find missing loved ones, yet she often ends up being a suspect in the police investigation by virtue of finding the body. She travels with her stepbrother and manager Tolliver as they try to keep what’s left of their family together and financially solvent. As the series progresses, Harper and Tolliver’s relationships starts to change and Harper finds more clues about the disappearance of her older sister when she was a child. There are four books in the series: Grave Sight, Grave Surprise, An Ice Cold Grave, and Grave Secret. Books 1 through 3 are also available as graphic novels.
Chuck Wendig’s books feature Miriam Black. Harper at least has Tolliver, Miriam is alone. She foresees a person’s death the second she touches them. At first she tries to stop the deaths, but finds that no matter what she says or does, she can’t change their fate. She can’t tell them. Who would believe her? She has seen every kind of horrible way to die and when she has tried to stop the event she ends up either helping it happen or making it worse. In the first book Miriam goes from taking advantage of this power and stealing peoples’ valuables upon their death to doing her utmost to change that future. This change happens when she meets Louis, a truck driver and widower, and sees his death. The kicker this time is he says her name as he’s dying and she sees the killer coming after her next. Miriam realizes that by meeting him, she has somehow become inextricably intertwined with his murder and murderer. Will she find a way to save Louis?
The second book finds Miriam trying to give up her nomadic, parasitic ways with limited success. Miriam is introduced to a schoolteacher, Katie, who will pay to know her own fate. The problem is that in the process Miriam discovers a whole new horror, a serial killer, and she has just touched two of his victims; students at Katie’s school. Fate seems to have a job for Miriam; she just doesn’t want it. Can Miriam save these young girls? Can she save herself? The first two books in the series are Blackbirds and Mockingbird. Cormorant, the third book, is scheduled to be released on December 31, 2013.
Harris’ books, while having gruesome murders is not overtly graphic and the sex and adult language are well within most Urban Fantasy reader’s tolerance. Wendig on the other hand is not for the squeamish. Miriam is darker, more dangerous and abrasive. She is also a much more damaged human being. There is blood, gore, sex, violence and drug use. Not that it’s all dark; humor is employed well by both authors. Both series are very satisfying reads with strong heroines dealing with the horrors life and fate throw at them.