Book four of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series is A Fistful of Charms. For some reason, I am continually entertained by Harrison’s titles being plays on Clint Eastwood movies. Charms opens up with Rachel Morgan getting a visit by her partner Jenks’s wife Matalina coming for a visit to beg help from Rachael.
It turns out that Rachel’s ex-boyfriend, the human Nick Sparagamos, isn’t what Rachel thought he was. Instead of being a human that academically dabbled in magic, Nick turns out to be a thief. And his thieving has gotten him into big trouble around Mackinac, MI. Matalina gets involved because Nick has taken her eldest child, son Jax, with him and introduced him to the thieving lifestyle. Jenks, being the prideful and stubborn pixie that he is, couldn’t bring himself to ask for help.
Rachel decides that she has to help free Nick from his latest trouble, if only so she can tell him where to shove it in person and to help Jenks get his son Jax back and out of trouble. But it’s still cold out and pixies don’t do so well in the cold. If Jenks and Matalina hadn’t been inside a warm home during the winter months, they and their children would have been hibernating. Rachel’s solution is to get the help of elf Ceri and to twist some demon magic to make Jenks human sized.
This is a pretty neat bit of magic but Rachel once again shows her stupidity with it. Or perhaps her knack for convincing herself that what she’s doing isn’t stupid. Demon magic puts a black mark on your soul, regardless of whether or not you actually have to kill something to twist it. The spell to make Jenks big doesn’t require any death or animal bits and pieces so Rachel convinces herself that it’s just a slightly more powerful earth magic charm.
Ceri forcefully sets her straight and I’m hoping this marks a turning point for the character of Rachel Morgan. She’s starting to realize that she is woefully unprepared for her lifestyle. Now that she realizes this, perhaps she’ll be a little less leaping before she looks and a little more be prepared.
At any rate, it’s a neat bit of magic that turns tiny hand sized pixie Jenks into a six foot four dreamboat right in the middle of Rachel’s kitchen. At the same time, she also twists a demon curse that will allow her to Were (turn into a wolf) if she needs to, seeing as she had barely gotten out of an alpha challenge earlier. Both of these things come into play later.
Rachel leaves Cincinnati for Michigan with Jenks shortly after working both spells and realizes that while Jenks might look human, he still acted like a pixie. He played with everything, lived on sugary foods and couldn’t go more than a few hours without a pit stop.
Once in Michigan, they quickly discover that Nick was kidnapped by Weres and imprisoned on a private island Were sanctuary and that Jax was MIA. After shopping for some basic necessities, Jenks pixie habit of being overly curious pays off when he discovers a pamphlet for a butterfly house. Sure enough, when he and Rachel break in after hours, Jax is there with his new pet kitten and he spills the whole story.
Nick had swindled not one but two groups of Weres in regards to an ancient Were artifact that would all Weres to create others through biting (a la vampires) and bring all Weres together in a sort of super pack. Said artifact is demon created and had been, until recently, kept by the vampires in order to prevent Weres from getting their paws on it.
Long story short, Rachel finds and rescues Nick with Jenks’ considerable help and gets herself in deep trouble once more. The Were pack that had been torturing Nick for the location of the artifact now thinks that she knows where it is. She doesn’t…not until Ivy shows up with said artifact in Kisten’s Corvette. Nick had sent it to Rachel just like Henry Jones Sr had sent his grail diary to Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade. Since Nick believed Rachel to be dead (from the shenanigans in the previous book), he figured that was the safest way to get it out of Michigan.
Rachel cooks up an extravagant plan involving doppelganger charms, a living vampire named Peter and a car wreck to convince the Weres that Nick is dead and the artifact destroyed. But she also realized that Nick, being a thief, is no longer trustworthy and may in fact try to steal the artifact from her during this whole thing. Without telling him, she switches the artifact with something else and entrusts it to Jenks only.
Her original plan goes awry with Nick’s backstabbing, but the general effect works out to be the same. The Weres think that Nick is dead and the artifact destroyed, while neither is true. Nick is very much alive, despite plunging into Lake Huron in a two thousand pound tow truck and he thinks he has the real artifact. Jenks’ son Jax, unfortunately, chooses to go with Nick instead of going home to learn how to be a runner from his dad.
This book brings to light some very important points that probably could have been mentioned earlier. 1) Almost all of Rachel’s bad decisions are apparently because she’s an adrenaline junkie. She needs that thrill of fear to get off in her relationships, hence why she is living with one vampire and dating another. 2) Ivy is a basket-case of a living vampire due to Piscary. 3) Ivy loves Rachel in a sexual way, but Rachael doesn’t return those feelings. Can we say awkward? 4) Ivy apparently can’t last two days without Rachel because of said abuse from Piscary.
It will be interesting to see how Ivy and Rachel and Kisten make out in the following books (not literally). I’m also hoping to see more of Trent Kalamack in the following books. He may be the bad guy, but I rather like his character. He’s the only one who started off with a complicated, multidimensional character.
All in all, I think this is a solid A book and I really need to get the next one.