Literature: Shaman of the Undead

Ladies and gentlemen, our unwilling heroine.
Medium has a screwed-up life. Medium who doesn't want to be a medium, is screwed up doubly. Medium with no vocation, but with aversion to spirits, is screwed up in all possible ways.

Shaman Of The Undead is 21st-century series of Urban Fantasy books by Polish author Martyna Raduchowska, so far untranslated to any other languages. It tells the story of eponymous heroine in the modern-day southern Poland, where magical world hides from Muggle one.

Ida Brzezińska is the Black Sheep in her family - the only child to powerful, influential family of wizards, she seems to possess no magical talent whatsoever. Tired with her parents' plots to send her to magical university and then marry her off to some Wizard-Council-influential magician whom she can bear properly magical children, Ida runs off to Wrocław to study psychology. Things get complicated when it turns out that she has, in fact, a gift - she's the "shaman of the undead", a person able to foresee somebody's death and obliged to lead said person's soul to the Land Of The Dead. Trained by her tongue-in-cheek old aunt Tekla, Ida foresees her first assignment and sets off to do the job... but the case is more complicated than it seems.

Series currently has two parts, Shaman Of The Undead and its continuation, The Mirror Demon.


Series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Redhead and Lena.
  • Addiction Powered: Kwiatuszek's powers run on caffeine and high fat food.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: It is mentioned as one of magical disciplines.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Bad Luck, Ida's personal demon.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Kwiatuszek's main power is that she's genius analyst, capable of figuring out everything, given sufficient amount of raw data (and "sufficient" isn't much when she's concerned).
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Kwiatuszek is pretty much the Big Good of the story, helping Brittle under the desk and analyzing data for him and Ida.
  • Big Eater: "Brittle" Kruszyński. Ida once or twice complains about him clearing her fridge on every visit.
  • Black Sheep: Ida's parents consider her to be one, mostly because she refuses to participate in Arranged Marriage and she seems to possess no magical gift.
  • Blessed with Suck: So far, it seems like nothing good comes from being shaman of the undead.
  • Blue-Collar Warlock: Every wizard or witch in this universe.
  • Bond Creature: Variation of this occures with Ida and Bad Luck, although case of who has who never gets resolved. Played straight with Biter, Ida's dreamcatcher, and zig-zagged with Joanna who's a harpy accompanying Ida everywhere because Ida is supposed to lead her to Land Of The Dead note .
  • Brainwashed: Any Muggle who has seen too much magic is subjected to this, with their memories of the events wiped out.
  • Creator Provincialism: Except from few scenes at the beginning of the first book and one or two in the second, whole story takes place in Wrocław.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Any immortal oath should have it. Too sad Ida didn't know it when she made one...
  • The Dark Arts: Ol' fashioned black magic. Smells of ginger and pepper.
  • Dark World: The world on the other side of the mirrors is distorted and sometimes-creepy version of our reality.
  • Dead All Along: Tekla. She died two years before the story started.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most notably Tekla, Okhamhaka and Redhead, although other characters have their moments as well.
  • Demonic Possession: What most attempts at summoning a demon end with. It can also happen to bystander if s/he's present when ritual is finished.
  • Demon Slaying: Brittle's job in WON. The department actually hires a lot of demon slayers in case necromancer hunt or exorcisms go awry.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Ida foresees certain peoples' death, as well as important future events. Tekla states it's a Required Secondary Power so that she can be on time to lead the ghost to the Land of the Dead.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Ida, again, this time about The Tempter.
  • Fantastic Angst: Ida angsts over her parents plans for her to study on magical university and marry an influential wizard, despite her lacking magical talent.
  • Fiery Redhead: Redhead, as you might guess. She also has the most Hair-Trigger Temper of all the characters.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Ida, since her talent doesn't apply to the living.
  • Fun with Acronyms: WON note  means "be gone" in Polish. Actually sort of fitting.
  • Geas: Shaman of the undead must lead souls she dreamed of to the Land Of The Dead - otherwise she loses part of her soul and somebody else dies.
  • Geometric Magic: Circles are important, especially in necromancy and demon-summoning.
  • Haunted House: Most notably Tekla's house and the apartment house Ida moved in. Both are benign versions. Karev's house, though, is absolutely creepy, but it's the backyard that's haunted. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Hell: Apparently, some worlds on the other side of the mirrors are hells ruled by powerful demons, most notably Tempter's hell. Only demons and people who were possessed in life go there, the latter provided that their souls don't explode from Black Magic's taint.
  • Heroic RROD: Ida suffers from it through the first half of The Mirror Demon.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bad Luck in the end of The Mirror Demon. The epilogue implies he survived and is still bonded with Ida, though.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Demons like eating people, which makes obvious why it's illegal to summon them.
  • In-Series Nickname: Most agents of WON has those, as Polish tradition requiresnote . Zofia is Readhead, Kruszyński - Brittle ("Kruchy" in Polish), Lena Wolf is Wolfie and so on.
  • Intangibility: property of ghosts, as well as Biter when he's personifying Ida's dreams.
  • I See Dead People: Ida, to her reluctance, and Tekla. She can also see creepy life-like visions where Black Magic was used.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Ida nicknamed Mikołaj's ghost "One-Eyed Cannibal" for a reason.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Memory wiping is this, as so-called "sowers of oblivion" can make someone forget any person completely, provided that a proper personal trinket is given away. Said trinket acts like a storage for wiped out memory, so if wiped-out person touches it, memories all come back.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted
  • Magic Is A Ghost Magnet: Due to the Inner Eye, the source of shaman's powers, visible to ghosts as a bright, white light.
  • Magical Native American: Okhamhaka, the Indian boy-ghost who Tekla calls "probably the most powerful one she's ever met". How he came to be in Wrocław, an ocean and half a continent from America, is left unexplained.
  • Magical Society: WON, Department Of Possessions And Hauntings (Wydział Opętań i Nawiedzeń), magical police.
  • Magic Mirror: Any mirror is this, as they are the gates to all possible universes, including various hells, future and past. One can come through a mirror and move between them... But it's dangerous because residents of that hells mentioned earlier like human souls very much.
  • Magnetic Medium: Inner Eye informs the ghosts of presence and location of Ida, so that she won't have to travel to them, or at least not too much. Doubles as Weirdness Magnet and Ida'd much rather do without it, thank you very much.
  • Memory Gambit: A subversion. Karev has his memories partially erased after his wife's and child's death and everybody thinks this is because he killed them and don't want memory-readers to prove it. Not really. Child died of sickness and wife committed suicide, so Karev, suffering a massive depression, asked a friend to erase his memories of them. Only it had Gone Horribly Wrong...
  • Memory Wiping Crew: WON hires "oblivion sewers" and "memory sewers", whose job is respectively deleting and planting false memories, to keep up The Masquerade, although they work as regular psychologists as well.
  • Masquerade: And WON doesn't shy from Brainwashing to uphold it.
  • Mirror Monster: Demons and people able to walk in the mirrors tend to come off like this.
  • No Eye in Magic: In order to see her dreams caught by Biter, Ida must look him in the eyes.
  • Necromancer: WON treats them as necessary evil, as they use black magic, but opportunity to question the victim can be priceless.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Kruszyński is constantly referred to by his nickname, Brittle.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: Banshees are people who can predict somebody's death and more often that not, deliver it.
  • Our Demons Are Different: They are entities that live on the other side of the mirror in various hells. Most are ruled by the Tempter. They can possess people, and people "tainted" by black magic and demonic possession may become demons themselves. They crave human flesh and souls, although some satisfy themselves with pranks.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: They are either souls of dead people who have not come to the Land Of The Dead yet or came back at call, or souls that came (or were pushed) out of their still living bodies. They can be destroyed, tainted by black magic or turned into demons, and can shatter if tainted too much.
  • Paranormal Investigation: Series seems to drift slowly in this direction, which is reasonable, since some characters are magical policemen.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Photographs can be used to contact the living, as they are perfect imitation of a person. Also, "crucifixes", or firearms for demons.
  • Prophecy Twist: Ida did foresaw the sudden death of Mikołaj and when said person broke into her house and tried to kill her, she kept waiting for someone to come in and save the day. It turns out she was the person to kill him.
  • Psychopomp: Shaman of the undead's job is to lead the souls to the Land of the Dead, although not all souls require it. Shamans are so rare, WON has no records of them and had to do a lot of digging before believing Ida that she is one.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Discussed, but averted. Redhead suspects that Ida may be this for Brittle after the loss of Wolfie, but he disagrees, stating that he will not treat Ida as second Lena.
  • Required Secondary Powers: For Ida, her ability to see who will die soon, so that she can get to him and lead him to the Land of the Dead, and her ability to see ghosts, for rather obvious reasons.
  • Screening The Call: Tekla suggests that that's what happened - Brzeźnińscy's house's magic wards were stopping the ghosts from coming to Ida, making it look as if she had no powers at all. This is supported by the fact that when she goes to the hospital at the start of the story, she instantly sees Mikołaj's future ghost.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Call Put Me On Hold: until she was 21, Ida didn't have any magical talents, which annoyed her parents (powerful wizards) to no end.
  • The Obi-Wan: Aunt Tekla, although she avoids the dying part by being already dead when the story starts.
  • The Promise: Immortal oath Ida makes at the end of the Shaman is the reason for the Mirror Demon plot.
  • The Shrink: Karev's friend is, beside a psychologist in Muggle world, the "oblivion sower", meaning he can literally erase other people's memories and manipulate them to his wish. Oh, and he turns out to be Big Bad of the books, being person who turned Karev into the Mirror Demon.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Overlaps with Magnetic Medium, Ida is this until she learns to conceal her Inner Eye, which works like ghostly lighthouse, bringing to her souls, demons, curious spirits and, by extension, WON's attention.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Ida's parents attitude towards their only daughter. Ida was supposed to be "necessary minimum" to secure her family's political power, be obedient daughter, study magic and marry important wizard. She turns out to have no magical powers, be rebellious and wishing to study psychology on Muggle university. Parents are not happy and think she hides her powers from them so that they won't be able to send her to magical school. They actually set multiple magical traps in their house, trying to prove they're right. They're wrong and Ida once had to wait almost a quarter suspended upside down before they arrived to free her.
  • Wizards and Witches: Series' premise.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Apparently one of rules in series' universe.
  • You Can See Me?: Joanna's and apartment's ghosts' reaction.