Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson

September 5th, 2016 Kimberly Review 47 Comments

5th Sep
Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson
Deja Who
by MaryJanice Davidson
Series: Insighter #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Leah Nazir is an Insighter. Reincarnation is her business. But while her clients’ pasts are a mess, Leah’s is nothing short of tragedy. She’s been murdered. A lot. If left to that bitch, destiny, it’ll happen again. Leah wants to know who’s been following her through time, and who’s been stalking her in the present...

P.I. Archer Drake has been hired by Leah’s mother to keep an eye on her. But the more time he spends watching, the more he finds himself infatuated. Before long, he even finds himself agreeing to help find the person who wants her dead. Over and over again.

Now going full-on “rewind,” Leah hopes it can stave off the inevitable. After all, she’s grown fond of this life—and even fonder of nerdy Archer. But changing her pattern means finding out who her killer is today. And as Leah fears, that could be anyone she has come to know and trust. Anyone.


You couldn’t arrest someone for killing in a past life. You couldn’t bring a civil suit against them, either. They could only be legally penalized for what they did this time around—and what a dark circus the legal system had been before that legislation passed! (It was still a dark circus, but perhaps not as dark.) But you could spot them, and watch them. You could set traps for them.

Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson is the first in a new urban fantasy series where folks are aware of their past lives. It explores reincarnation as it shares famous characters from the past and introduces heroine Leah Nazir who navigates her own tragic past, helps clients with theirs, and waits to be murdered.

Deja Who was a quirky, original story. Despite a rough beginning, this was an excellent start to this new series.

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • I found the Author’s notes at the beginning fascinating and recommend not skipping them. (Yes, I am talking to you)
  • The year is 2015 and unlike the witches and soothsayers of the past, Insighters are respected in the medical and legal professions. In Davidson’s world as teens, or during tragic/stressful events folks unlock or recall parts of their past lives. This often affects them or is the driving force behind their behavior. Whether court required, or medical reasons patients use Insighters to safely navigate memories of their past lives. By understanding their fears/behavior in relation to their past lives they can break the cycle. Insighters also use their insight to alert local authorities to watch or set traps for dangerous souls. It is all quite interesting and taps into some religious and spiritual beliefs.
  • Leah Nazir is our quirky heroine and Insighter. Folks who work with her respect her but will also note she is a cold-hearted bitch. By outward appearances, Leah is indeed a bit of a bitch. Cold, factual and reserved she allows very few people into her inner world. In ALL of Leah’s past lives she was murdered. Every time she is stabbed, and a part of her is waiting for that to happen again. Of course she hopes to thwart the killer, but she is also resigned to die.
  • P.I Archer Drake has been hired to keep an eye on her, and soon find himself curious. Leah is aware of the man stalking her but believes him to be her killer. When he is unhappy with the client and feels Leah may be in danger he confronts her. Oh boy this is when the fun begins.
  • In Deja Who we have several threads; developing friendship/romance between Archer and Leah, a murder and the looming threat of Leah’s pending murder, All of these threads created intense scenes, drama and helped the reader understand Leah and her past. The beginning was rough for me (see Decaffeinated Aspects) but the story delivered twists, reveals and just enough drama to keep me flipping the pages at a steady past.
  • Secondary characters added interest and shed light on Insighters, past lives and the jumbled legal issues surrounding those lives. It was quite interesting and allowed me to see Leah in action and warm up to her. I enjoyed Leah’s sessions with patients, and her insight about people she comes into contact with. Davidson included famous historical characters and it was riveting.
  • The romance was light and adorkable, even silly at times but it totally worked because Leah and Archer are quirky.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • I almost DNF’d Deja Who at 15%. While the author’s note and prologue give us the basic concept, we sort of jump right into the story as Leah is with a client. The date on the report is the only clue about where I was. In America, based on how the date was written and the year was 2015. We dip into past lives and it was all quite unsettling for me as a reader. I did not feel grounded. Thankfully, I began to settle in despite jarring questions. Once I read Archer’s perspective, I decided to give it more time. I am glad that I did, despite wanting more details. I am not even sure of the city. My best guess is Chicago.
  • The world building was lacking for me, or the author assumed that as the reader I understood all the levels of reincarnation. I would have liked an understanding of the path, and Insighters role. We learn how Insighters helps the patients not become lost in their own mind, but I am quite confident their role is more than that. I am hoping the second novel provides more insight.

Deja Who offered an original, quirky beginning to the Insighters series. I love the concept and exploration of past lives and her inclusion of famous historical characters was a cool touch.  This was a fun, light urban fantasy and I am curious to see what happens next.

[bctt tweet=”Deja Who. Meet Leah as she navigates her past, helps clients and waits to be murdered.” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

47 Responses to “Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson”

  1. Lark

    Sounds fascinating, if not quite as well developed as it could have been. I’ll keep an eye out for it, though.

  2. Leona

    Adorkable LMBO!!! I think when this releases as an audio (or is already out as audio) I might pick it up. I’ve always wanted to read something by this author.

  3. Tyler H. Jolley

    I’m glad you stuck with it and it mostly worked for you. There’s nothing worse than powering through a book you know you should have dnf’d.

  4. Bookworm Brandee

    Ooh, a new series from MJD! I like the premise of this, Kim, but I’ll have to remember to keep plugging away at it rather than giving up if I’m not feeling grounded in the story from the get-go. 🙂

  5. Deborah Haupt

    Thanks Kim for the great review, this is actually on my list too and I’ve asked for an interview so maybe you can get some of those answers. I think I’m going to read this one too!

  6. kindlemom1

    I keep telling myself I want to try this author but, you know how it is, too many books out there to try. It really is hard to decide.

  7. Mckenzie

    I haven’t seen anything like this; it sounds really interesting! I love the idea of past lives and Insighters. I’m really glad you enjoyed this one! We’re definitely going to look into it 🙂


  8. Jackie B.

    At what percent do you think Archer and Leah started interacting? I just want something the gauge my patience if I feel like I want to DNF.

  9. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I just read a book where I felt that off kilter for much of the book and almost dnf’d it as well. Glad I did stick with it so I will do so here. I haven’t read a MJD book in a long while and I think I may need to correct that. I am one to actually read the author’s notes. 😀 You talkin’ to me? LOL

  10. Sophia Rose

    Now that is an interesting premise. If it just jumped right in for something like that, it might be too much so I can see why you’d hesitate to keep going. Glad it finally settled in and you could enjoy it.

  11. Lekeisha

    I haven’t read anything from this author before, but I do have her book Danger Sweetheart on my shelf. I think that one is a contemporary romance, but I’ll have to try some of her UF/PNR. Great review!

  12. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I was so intrigued by this, but the lack of quality in worldbuilding worries me. I love to have things as clear as they can be. Great review!

  13. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

    The premise of the story sounds fascinating but I’d have the same reaction as you if dropped in the middle of an unfamiliar world and circumstances. Thanks for your in depth and insightful review.

      • Jennifer

        Maybe a prequel novella would help? Set up the world where it was missed in this one? Even though I dropped her other series I’m willing to give her another try as an author. I’ll wait until book 2 comes out and see how you like it before trying this series. It’s not like I don’t have tons of other books on my TBR. lol

  14. Berls

    I am definitely interested. Good to know that those authors notes make such a difference – I probably would have skipped them. And I know now to push through the beginning – I usually give a book to the 20 mark, so I should be good (if I forget your sage advice by time I finally get to this one lol) great review!

  15. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I was thinking about the world-building and how curious I am about it, but then got to the last part of your review. I already have so many questions! I’ll wishlist it for now.