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.

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

The Hollows, to present

I’ve been zooming through books recently and haven’t had much time to update my blog, so this one might be a long one.  I left off my review of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series with A Fistful of Charms. Following on the heels of that book comes For a Few Demons More.

In this book, Rachel Morgan still has the 5,000 year old demon made Focus in her possession and someone has found out that it is in Cincinnati. Someone is killing off werewolves in Cincinnati trying to find it and take it away from them and a serial killer seems to be on the loose, going after human women with no discernible link.  Rachel gets pulled in by the FIB and Detective Glenn to help investigate and the trail leads to Rachel’s own Alpha, David Hue.  Add master vampire Piscary and Trent Kalamack into the loop and things get really complicated, real fast.

Of course, once Rachel does get things figured out…she gets stupid.  Kim Harrison hasn’t quite gotten passed putting her main character in situations that are created entirely from her own stupidity.  And the only way for Rachel’s stupidity to be fixed is by summoning a demon, a new one by the name of Minias.  Spoiler alert: The werewolf focus gets magically sealed into Alpha David Hue.  This allows him to create werewolves by biting a humans, which hasn’t been done in thousands of years.

Next up is The Outlaw Demon Wails. With (spoiler) Kisten dead at the hands of some unknown enemy, Rachel’s life is in the midst of falling apart. Not that it was every really together.  Now, however, she’s even more determined to not do stupid things. At least, not before determining that stupid is absolutely the only way out.  Which happens to be the case in this book.  With at least one demon after Rachel and she has to figure out who is setting him on her, why and how to stop them.  Her trip will lead her into the ever after with her hated enemy Trent Kalamack on a trip that will save both her and the Elves.  But she has to survive first and to survive, she has to embrace the fact that she can spin demon magic.

White Witch, Black Curse.  Rachel is determined to figure out who murdered her vampire lover Kisten two novels ago, but ends up getting side tracked by a banshee.  Rachel’s FIB friend Detective Glenn gets injured in the line of duty and Rachel and Ivy are called in to help.  Rachel figures out that one of those involved is a banshee, who sucks the aura/emotions out of people.  Here we find out what Ivy did with the leprechaun wish she received in the first novel and how it relates to the banshee problem.

We’re also introduced to a new character, a witch by the name of Gordian Nathanial Pierce.  He starts out life as a ghost of a witch who is (conveniently) buried in the cemetery in Rachel’s backyard.  He was, in his day, one of the most powerful witches out there.  He and Rachel met when she accidentally gave him a body some dozen years ago or so. Rachel had thought him finally at rest, but such is not the case.  He ends up getting a new body by agreeing to become the demon Al’s familiar.  This also ties in with the banshee later on down the road.

Rachel causes a lot of destruction and gets a bit of bad press from the pursuit of the banshee, which probably helps lead up to the situation she finds herself in in Black Magic Sanction.  Rachel has been blacklisted by the coven of witches that guides the moral fiber of witch society. It’s something left over from when witches had to hide, but it’s still a very real thing for modern witches. While I can’t remember the term off the top of my head, it basically means that she can’t buy anything from a witch or a witch-run business in good standing.

To top it all off, this particular branch of witches want to use her as a lab rat to increase the power of witches.  They want to harvest her eggs and/or lobotomize her to get her ability to spin demon magic.  Ex-boyfriend Nick shows up again when the coven forces him to summon her.  Since she switched her summoning name with Al’s in the last adventure, the initial summoning might have been construed as a mistake.  And Nick does help summon Rachel back to Cincinnati a few hours later.

Adding to her troubles is Trent Kalamack, who is pissed by the fact that in the ever after (which he will most likely never set foot in again), he is consider Rachel’s familiar-a situation that is akin to being owned. He hates the thought of that and instead of simply asking Rachel to remove her mark on his body, he tries to force her into a contract that would legally bind her as his property in this realm.  Rachel, obviously, will have none of either and finds a way out of the situation in a suitably destructive and public manner.

Nick pits himself firmly in the asshole category in this book.  He sells out Rachel to Trent, unsuccessfully, but thanks to Ivy and Jenks’ well placed mistrust of him, Rachel hears all the details through a radio transmitter. It is highly unlikely that Nick will have Rachel’s help ever again. At least one would hope.  However, she might have reconciled with Trent Kalamack, who turns out to be a very old friend from when she was sick as a kid.

I keep flip-flopping on whether or not I like Kalamack.  There are times when I am truly repulsed by his behavior. But at the end of this book, I am almost rooting for Rachel and Trent to at least do the nasty if not get together. The story arc is obviously going somewhere that should be culminating in the next book (or two perhaps) and I can’t wait to see what lies in store in Pale Demon.

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. 😀