American Demon

American Demon by Kim Harrison (picture courtesy of Amazon)

I had thought that with the the book The Witch with No Name, the Hollows series by Kim Harrison was over. I mean, it seemed pretty darn wrapped up. I guess I was wrong, because American Demon just recently came out, and there appears to be at least one more coming.

I had thought that with the the book The Witch with No Name, the Hollows series by Kim Harrison was over. I mean, it seemed pretty darn wrapped up. I guess I was wrong, because American Demon just recently came out, and there appears to be at least one more coming.

Rachel Mariana Morgan is back. Her church is destroyed and she’s living on the boat of an old boyfriend (Kisten, for those who remember the earlier books). She and Trent are actually still together, but her job has suffered and she’s only getting jobs when Trent sends them her way. Ivy is living with undead vampire/girlfriend Nina and they’re back working with the IS.

Demons are living in the world, though only Al and Dali are “out”. And that’s where we learn that some people in Cincinnati are attacking their loved ones over slights that happened years ago. FIB naturally suspects demons and wants Rachel to find out who. Not if demons are responsible, but who. They’re automatically assuming that demon = evil, whereas we’ve kinda found out in this world demon = used car salesman.

I digress. At any rate, Rachel refuses to work the case and finds something else to distract her. A previously unknown demon is demanding to know why the collective (as the demons call themselves) haven’t killed her for dabbling with elf magic (remember – elves and demons consider each other mortal enemies, even if their magic comes from the same fundamental place). Turns out the man, or demon, is Hodin and is Al’s brother.

Hodin was sold to the elves after Al found him dabbling in elf magic. Hodin spent at least a millennium as a slave, being subject to some of the worst magic and tortures the elves ever devised, including the thing that’s terrorizing people. No longer able to avoid it, Rachel gets pulled into the investigation.

The thing in question is some sort of sentient energy being called a baku (very close to the Japanese word baka, which anime fans will recognize as crazy). A host will offer the being space in it’s body/soul in return for the baku doing it’s bidding – going out while it’s enemy or enemies sleep and nibbling away at their souls. If they don’t killed by an act of violence that the baku initiates, then the baku will eventually eat it into a soulless husk.

I kinda feel like it took Rachel too long to figure out she was the target. I mean, come on. She’s always the frickin’ target! You’d think that would be the first thing she thought of! And the obvious choice for bad guy – was the bad guy! I enjoy these books, but while I was reading this one Kim Harrison threw in this bit about how Trent made Rachel less Rachel-y and I was just like…Uh, no he hasn’t!

She may not rush in without thinking, but her thinking muscles don’t appear to have been given much stretch. She’s still a little too naive for someone who has been through as much as she’s been through. And she’s still to fucking self sacrificing for my taste, always trying to get her friends to go away when she needs them most. Are there actually people out there like this? It seems to be more than an actual person would do before learning she could trust her friends and expect them to be there.

Considering I thought the series was over, I was pleasantly surprised to find this one. And it was enjoyable too, but sad at the end. I won’t give spoilers since it’s fairly new, but brace yourselves, if you’re a fan of the series. I feel like Rachel Mariana Morgan has way more room to grow as an actual, fleshed out character, even though this is book 14.

The characters are fun, but not as well rounded as Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files characters. I do like the fact that it took a very long time and some growth as characters for Trent and Rachel to get together. I was rooting for them to be a couple, or at the very least kiss, way before they actually did. I think I’m going to have to go back and re-read some of these books to re-familiarize myself with the characters and the world. Still, fun book, fun series. Rating: B

Ever After!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I’m back. I’ve been away a while because I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series. Again. 🙂 At any rate, I’ve just read the new Hollows novel, Ever After by Kim Harrison. When is the next one coming out? Cause seriously, this one was good. It wasn’t really as frustrating as those early books were. Since this book has just recently come out, you are warned that HERE BE SPOILERS.

Rachel Morgan, our leading lady, has actually changed! She doesn’t rush head long in to dangerously stupid (or stupidly dangerous) situations. Thank god. That was really annoying. And she’s actually learned that she can get help from people! Oh my god! Okay, enough with the sarcasm (maybe).

In this book, she’s in trouble because a ley line that she accidentally created (which makes it her responsibility) is leaking ever after (the place where the demons live and allows for magic to be used). Only it isn’t her fault. True she created the line but someone has cursed it, causing the ever after leakage. That person (well, demon really) is the creepy Ku’Sox that demon she bested a few books ago. He is out for revenge in a big way.

Ku’Sox uses Rachel’s ex-boyfriend (who hasn’t appeared in a while) Nick Sparagamos as a familiar. Nick wants revenge on Rachel in a big way…though I can’t really remember why. I’d be tempted to go back and re-read those early books if Rachel Morgan wasn’t so god damn irritating in them. At any rate, Nick (or crap-for-brains as Jenks calls him) is abducting witch children with Rosewood Syndrome, the same deadly disease that Rachel had as a child. And if they’re cured, they will become day walking demons just like Rachel.

Not only that, but Ku’Sox kidnaps Trent Kalamack’s child Lucy as leverage. Trent is the only one who knows the complete Rosewood cure. So Rachel has to get the babies, get Lucy and stop the ever after from shrinking. And if she doesn’t? Oh the usual…death by Newt (the only other female demon, not the lizard).

I won’t go into too much detail but I really, really enjoyed this one. Rachel is finally, finally becoming a fully fleshed out character. And she finally freaking kissed Trent! I’ve been waiting for that to happen for several books now. I’m am really looking forward to the next one, whenever it may be released. Totally worth the read. I might even re-read it. Rating: solid A.

A Perfect Blood

**SPOILERS**

So I just plowed through Kim Harrison’s latest Rachel Morgan novel, A Perfect Blood. It was good and yet in parts of it I wanted to wring the main character’s neck. We’ve had quite a few of these books and apparently Rachel Morgan still goes off half-cocked with no plan and no back up only to be surprised when she gets captured by the baddies!

In this book, she’s essentially spayed herself magically speaking because she’s afraid of how people will treat her as a full powered demon. Not to mention she doesn’t want to live permanently in the ever after with Al and the other wacko demons. So for half the book or so we watch Rachel trying to continue working as she had before…but without any of her demon abilities because while she’s come out as a demon, apparently she just mentally has not accepted that her life will change.

And now we have a new group of bad guys who, while clearly focusing on Rachel for something, are more into the destruction of anything non-human rather than Rachel specifically. This makes a nice change from the previous books where the bad guys seem intent on wiping Rachel out simple because she’s Rachel.

At any rate, her life is changing and she’s getting frustrated that she can’t keep up. Ivy and Jenks are moving on with their respective others and Rachel is just a bit jealous because she doesn’t have one. She’s trying to talk herself out of a clear crush on elf Trent Kalamak and I’m note entirely certain why. He’s a bit of a dick, sure, but he’s also helped her out of quite a bit of trouble. Those two need to shag and get it over with already.

Eventually Rachel reaches a breaking point where she HAS to regain her demon powers by removing her charmed silver bracelet. From there, she ends up kicking her ass in her usual Three Stooges way. Let’s face it, she can fight and she can spell but she really has little common sense. She never waits for backup and she purposefully limits herself by dampening her powers. I really do like these books but sometimes Rachel Morgan just seems a little too cliche to me.

Rating: BB+

The Hollows, IV

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.

The Hollows, III

The Hollows third book is Every Which Way But Dead.  Here was start out with Rachel Morgan attempting to outsmart a demon. Rachel Morgan isn’t as smart as she thinks she is.  While she manages to get the demon off her back (literally and figuratively) for at least a little while, she ends up freeing his former familiar, an Elf named Ceri.  This just adds to piss off Big Al and make him even more determined to break Rachel to him.  Note to Rachel: Don’t screw with demons.

Not long after this, her boyfriend Nick ends up skedaddling out of Cincinnati. He can’t handle his role as Rachel’s familiar.  Apparently it’s painful and/or uncomfortable. The only description we have of the process of Rachel pulling “ever after” through Nick is the one time she purposefully did it, he ended up having convulsions.  So safe to assume this is not fun at all.

Hurting from losing her boyfriend, Rachel’s a bit more reckless than usual, which is saying something. She ends up agreeing to help the one person she hates most in the world, Trent Kalamack, and also takes up with sexy vamp Kisten, former scion to Piscary the master vamp that Rachel helped but behind bars.

Spoiler alert: In this book we learn that Rachel is one of only two people on earth who can kindle demon magic.  The other one just happens to be the one person that both Kisten and Trent Kalamack want out of the way. It seems like he’s been trying to horn in on both Piscary’s Inderland empire and Kalamack’s illegal drug trade. Rachel takes care of this problem, and her issue with Big Al the demon by trading this fellow witch to Big Al in exchange for her freedom.

Rachel Morgan, while still something of a head strong moron, is getting a bit better in that department. The series is still captivating and I’ve already finished the fourth book, A Fistful of Charms.  All in all, a solid B+ book that left me itching for more.

On a completely unrelated side note: Amazon’s Kindle now offers out of print Simon R. Green books. I just got Blood and Honor, Ghostworld, Mistworld and Hellworld. I have been looking for these books in print for the longest time with no luck.  Now I finally got them and my Simon R. Green collection is complete, with the exception of A Hard Day’s Knight, which hasn’t come out yet. 😀

The Hollows, Book II

I enjoyed the first Hollows book enough that I got the second one (and the third).  The second book is called The Good, the Bad and the Undead. Again going for the Clint Eastwood-y titles.  Now that I’ve read a couple more of these books I can say that 1) I like Kim Harrison’s writing style and 2) I’m not figuring out the answer halfway through the book which is major plus points for Harrison.

In this book, Rachel Morgan is struggling to make her way as an independent runner. A runner is basically a supernatural bounty hunter/private investigator.  Being independent doesn’t get her the best paying jobs and will often get her stiffed by clients. In this book, she gets hired by bad boy Trent Kalamack to figure out who is killing ley line (borderline good/evil) witches in the city of Cincinnati.

In the course of the investigation, she gets wrapped up with the FIB again and has to babysit a pure human FIB agent in the Hollows (the Inderland or almost strictly supernatural section of Cincinnati). She also has to start using a magic she’s unfamiliar with (ley line) and that makes her uncomfortable. She finds out a deep dark secret about herself and her father that she didn’t know and manages to get into deeper trouble with a demon.

It was, overall, an enjoyable story but I do have something that annoys me about the series. Rachel Morgan. The character is bold (I like), stands up for herself (I like) and independent (I like). What I don’t like is that she is almost a complete and total moron when it comes to the Inderlanders.  She is not only an Inderlander herself (being a witch) but she grew up with Inderlanders and currently lives in the Inderland section of town.

How is it she doesn’t know what sets off her roomie’s vamp instincts? She has no idea that fighting them when they corner you makes them want to bite you more. Um..DUH!  BIG FREAKIN’ DUH. They’re predators! That is what they do! Some of the other, littler things like particular scents I can understand, but that? Give me a break.

It seems that she spent quite a bit of her learning years going “la la la! I can’t hear you!” at her teachers and/or her own mother. All she knows about ley line magic, which isn’t necessarily evil but has the potential to be, is that she doesn’t like it.  Therefore, she didn’t bother to learn anything about it.  I don’t like snakes, but I’ve learned enough to stay safe when around them.

And she’s singularly obsessed with bringing down Trent Kalamack. Not that bringing down a potential bad guy (I’m not convinced the character is as bad as Rachel Morgan thinks) is a bad thing.  But she continually screws up every attempt to bring him to any kind of justice. She’s convinced that he’s actually the one behind the witch murders and almost pins it on him (before he hires her to clear his name). But she screwed it up by going into the crime scene before she was allowed to.  Again BIG FREAKIN’ DUH! She works for the law, she should know how it works even if it was her first murder scene.  I’ve never been at one myself (thank goodness) but I would try not to touch anything. Common sense wouldn’t you think?

Anyway, the other characters have more than enough common sense to make up for Morgan’s complete lack of it. Even still, I still have moments of WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?! The book as a whole is quite good and I’d rate it a solid B, points off for Morgan’s stupidity but added points for a spectacular ending.  Harrison’s writing is good enough for me to temper my natural hatred of idiots. 😀

The Hollows, Book I

I just finished up Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison. I liked it well enough that I’m contemplating picking up the next one, The Good, The Bad and the Undead. Apparently Ms. Harrison is something of a Clint Eastwood fan. Rockin’.

Anyway, Dead Witch Walking features witch Rachel Morgan.  It starts out introducing to Rachel’s dead-end job hunting down supernatural creatures who break the law, in this case a leprechaun who was busted for tax evasion.  Turns out that Rachel’s really struggled in her job for some time now, no fault of her own we later find out.  She decides to quit, a risky proposition that could mean her death, and form a detective/bounty-hunting type business of her own.

Rachel successfully quits from the Federal Inderland Bureau (FIB)-the federal agency responsible for catching supernatural troublemakers-but brings her incredibly successful friend/roomie Ivy Tamwood (living vampire) with her.  Because of this, she starts getting attacked left, right and center from everything from faeries to demons, all of whom are being paid to hunt her down and dispose of her by her former living vampire boss.

Rachel survives by a combo of sheer luck and her friends Ivy and a pixie named Jenks.  Determined to get the death threat removed, she goes after a big bad guy by the name Trent, a city councilman.  Trent is his first name and because I don’t have the book up on my Kindle, I don’t have his last name. Read the book to find out! 😉 At any rate, Trent is into everything from smuggling Biodrugs (huuuuuuuuuuuuuugely taboo in this culture) to regular type drugs (called Brimstone). If she can bring him to the attention of the FIB’s rival bureau (the entirely human run IS), she can get them to pay the bounty money to lift the death threat.

I particularly enjoy the pixie character of Jenks.  He’s funny, brave and snarky.  I’m not to sure on Ivy yet, she seems a little spoiled to me.  Rachel Morgan is an acceptable enough female lead, but she is stubborn to the point of stupidity at times.  The nice thing is, she starts to recognize that at the end and attempts to change that.  It doesn’t take right away, making her a character to relate to.  She’s not perfect, she’s not gorgeous.

This could be a female Dresden Files, but with a little less (so far) the-world-actually-is-against-me angst. I rate this a solid B book, but with the caveat that I think it’s sort of like a chick flick only a novel.  Chi-novel?  While I can see my husband enjoying the Dresden Files (if he ever gave them a chance), I  don’t think he’d enjoy this as much, even with the Clint Eastwood theme names. Boys beware!