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Literature / The Walker Papers

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An Urban Fantasy series by C.E. Murphy.

Joanne Walker is a 26-year-old Wrench Wench / Fair Cop in Seattle who gets run through with a sword and is offered a choice: die, or become a shaman. She chooses the latter option, and ends up becoming an Overt Operative (not that she has much choice in the matter when one has to do magic inside the police station) working on solving paranormal problems.

Being a shaman was supposed to be a Puberty Superpower, but due to a few disastrous things such as Teen Pregnancy happening to her at the age of fifteen, Joanne ended up Forgetting The Call until forced to choose otherwise. Now she ends up learning "on the job" a lot, and thus has a ton of How Do I Shot Web? going on.


Shamanic powers include Healing Hands, many journeys to the Mental World and Dream Land, and Aura Vision, Clairvoyance, and I See Dead People on occasion. New Powers as the Plot Demands (or Joanne discovers that she can do them) adds to this list frequently.

Books in the series so far include:

  • Urban Shaman
  • Banshee Cries, a novella in the Winter Moon anthology (with Mercedes Lackey and Tanith Lee)
  • Thunderbird Falls
  • Coyote Dreams
  • Walking Dead
  • Demon Hunts
  • Spirit Dances
  • Raven Calls
  • No Dominion, a Kickstarter-funded novella taking place during Raven Calls
  • Mountain Echoes


Examples of:

  • A Friend in Need: most of Joanne's friends, especially Gary and Billy, and Morrison in his own way.
  • Agony of the Feet: Barb makes the mistake of kicking Joanne barefoot, and ends up shrieking and hopping from the pain of that mistake.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: sort of done here. Joanne realizes that dating a Non-Action Guy who wants her to be home with the kids isn't going to work, and she needs a partner who can deal with her going off to save the world.
  • Anchored Ship: Joanne may crush on Gary (see below), but she really has the hots for her Da Chief boss, Morrison. However, since he's her boss, it's not going to happen.
  • Backup from Otherworld: happens to Joanne a lot.
  • Bedmate Reveal: happens when Joanne wakes up to find Mark in her bed, with no recollection of his arrival.
  • Benevolent Boss: Morrison comes off as a hardass, and isn't too fond of magical crap going on, but is a pretty reasonable guy when he has to deal with it. At least he's sensible enough to put Joanne and/or Billy on any particularly weird cases.
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  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Note the butterfly tats on the Braggs.
  • Call on Me: Suzanne uses this to summon her grandfather.
  • Came Back Wrong: The unfortunate result of using the black cauldron. You can get creepy undead warriors, OR if you do it at the right time, you get them back...for one very agonizingly painful minute before they die again.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The tortoise spirit that Joanne finds for Gary in Thunderbird Falls helps him fight off the wendigo at one point during Demon Hunts.
  • Cliffhanger: Spirit Dances, Raven Calls, and Mountain Echoes have ended on one. So far-
    • Spirit Dances - Joanne leaves for Ireland to figure out a way to cure her werewolf bite.
    • Raven Calls - She gets a call from Sara about her father being missing.
    • Mountain Echoes - Another call, this time from Gary about his not so dead wife, Annie.
  • Convenient Coma: happens to a good chunk of the population of Seattle in Coyote Dreams.
  • Cool Car: Petite. Also, Watch the Paint Job.
  • Cool Sword
  • Cursed With Awesome: Jo has healing powers, astral projection, and she can borrow energy from the world around her when she needs to — but there are consequences to that which are also her responsibility. To say nothing of the fact that Jo isn't really too crazy about being a shaman in the first place.
  • Da Chief: Morrison
  • Dark Magical Girl: Faye
  • Demonic Possession: Or, rather, godly possession - by Begochidi.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Joanne and Barbara.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: The Missing O, the local donut shop, is a frequent downtime place for the cast to grab munchies and talk. Those closest to Joanne know her favorites are apple fritters, maple bars, and mint hot chocolate (or Italian sodas in the summer).
  • Doomed Appointment: Herne kills Marie before Joanne can meet up with her again.
  • Driven to Suicide: Faye kills herself to bring Virissong into the world when Joanne refuses to use Melinda as a sacrifice.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Siobhan is Joanne's given first name, which nobody can spell or pronounce. Her father changed it to "Joanne" immediately. She's also not too fond of her full last name, Walkingstick. She dropped the "stick" upon high school graduation, and goes now by Joanne Walker as her name, even though she's never filed for an official name change.
  • Ethnic Magician: Joanne's half-Irish, half-Native American heritage is a big factor in the books.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: Presumably Joanne's mother's motivation for asking Joanne to visit her when she was dying.
  • Forgot the Call: Present-day Joanne took her fifteen-year-old self's memories of training with Coyote, maybe setting things up for her Teenage Pregnancy and creating a Stable Time Loop.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Barb's weapon because she knows Joanne outclasses her in mano a mano fighting.
  • Greasy Spoon: i.e. the scene of Joanne's original stabbing
  • Halloween Episode: Walking Dead takes place then. It also shows Joanne and Phoebe as Xena and Gabrielle and Morrison dressed up from Miami Vice (possibly an example of For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself ?).
  • Have You Seen My God?
  • Heel–Face Turn: Herne comes back to help Joanne in Demon Hunts, and tells her to apologize to Suzanne on his behalf if the time ever comes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice
  • Hidden Depths: Laurie Corvallis is revealed had in a bad relationship at some point with a man named David.
    • Joanne's dad turns out to be a shaman like her, and the reason he and Joanne traveled so much was to heal different places across the country. He also knew that Joanne had shaman powers, but had promised her mother to keep her in the dark for protection.
  • Human Mom Nonhuman Dad and Half-Human Hybrid: Suzanne Quinley, raised by Muggle Foster Parents.
  • I Can't Dance:
  • I Know Your True Name: Since Joanne doesn't go by her given legal name, this essentially means she has a Secret Identity. Magical folks automatically know what her given name is and use it, even when she asks them not to. Joanne figures out that Judy is evil when Judy doesn't know her given name. As of Demon Hunts, Corvallis knows her real name after digging it up through mundane research.
  • Ill Girl: Well, Brother, not just girl: Colin, to Garth.
  • Intergenerational Friendship and Just Friends: Joanne and Gary, who aren't romantically involved, but nobody really buys that. If either of them was willing to enter into a May–December Romance...but 26 vs. 73 seems like too huge of an age gap.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Laurie Corvallis, though this gets her possessed by the wendigo in Demon Hunts.
  • I See Dead People: Billy, Sonata. Some other folks do this on occasion.
  • Mood Motif: Strange to appear in a book, but Jo's whistling is admonished by Faye because the still somewhat clueless shaman doesn't know whistling thins the walls between worlds. Pretty creepy. (Jo also tends to hum and sing to herself a lot).
  • Mercy Kill: Joanne ultimately helps the wendigo move on from the world in-between.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Joanne is a mechanic who discovers shamanic magical potential, then becomes a beat cop, then becomes a police detective. She has an incongruent degree in English literature and nerds over word use.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Joanne sure does get stabbed in the gut a lot.
  • Not Quite Dead: Coyote is alive as of Demon Hunts.
  • One Head Taller: Subverted, Joanne is just under six feet tall (same as Morrison) and is easily on the level of every guy she dates.
  • Parental Abandonment: Joanne's mother shipped her off to her father three months after she was born to protect her from the Master. Her father raised her on the road, traveling from site to site and healing what he could, but it meant that she couldn't settle down long enough to make friends, and her lack of shamanic knowledge made it look like he wasn't quite sure what to do with her. Also, Joanne gave up her own child for adoption.
  • Plausible Deniability
  • Precognition: especially Suzanne once she comes into her powers.
  • Ret-Gone: Suzanne does this to one of the zombies from the cauldron.
  • Right in Front of Me: the first time Joanne (an obsessive car buff) meets Morrison (not an obsessive car buff), he mistakes her beloved Cool Car for another kind. She mercilessly gives him all kinds of crap for this...and finds out later that he's her new boss. Even years later, knowing better, she still periodically brings this up to his face ("I just don't see how you could possibly mistake a 1969 Mustang for...")
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Mark, Thor, Cyrano/Coyote
  • Super Cop: arguably Joanne, given her abilities and being the only one who can solve certain problems.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Joanne ultimately does this with Begochidi.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
    • Begochidi believed Joanne was a sign of this after the events of Urban Shaman and Thunderbird Falls.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Joanne likes everything from the local donut shop, Raspberry Fudge ripple ice cream, and pretty much anything Gary cooks.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Judy/Virissong
  • Triangle Relations: Joanne and Morrison dating the Bragg twins. Totally a Green-Eyed Epiphany and two Romantic False Leads.
  • Trickster Mentor: Coyote
  • Twin Tropes: Joanne originally gave birth to twins, with Ayita merging with Aidan minutes after they were born. However, Joanne had no idea about her powers, and believed that she had died giving her strength to him. Later, there's the Bragg twins. Barbara appears to be the Evil Twin, and both of them may be possessed. Mark definitely is.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Joanne. This is specifically cited as why, despite being fired from her original job for being gone for four months, she isn't totally fired from the police department. She's too "token" to throw off the roster.
  • Unfortunate Names: Billy Holliday. His brother became a doctor and "did it to himself."
    • Not to mention James Morrison. His license reads "J. Michael Morrison", though, and he is only known by his middle name.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Joanne's car, Petite, takes a lot of supernatural-related abuse to the point where her insurance agent starts getting suspicious, and where she chews out Faye for driving it without a license.
  • Weirdness Magnet
  • We Used to Be Friends: Sara, who still seems to have hard feelings against Joanne as a kid for (a) being in shaman training and talking about it, and (b) boinking the guy that Sara liked and ended up marrying. Sara is particularly smug about how she kept in contact with the guy after he moved away and married him to Joanne, but they end up less antagonistic towards each other in the end. As of Mountain Echoes, Lucas has died, and Sara tells Joanne to stay out of her life.
  • What If?: At one point in Walking Dead, Joanne sees the various paths her life could/could have taken had she chosen differently.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Billy (Joanne thinks his name had something to do with it), who's unashamed to go to police events in a dress.
  • The Wild Hunt


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