Author: Kim Harrison
Publication Date: 1/22/13
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Blurb(GR): The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing... for the worse.
While saving the world is important, it isn't Rachel's only motivation. There's also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It's also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He's already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn't give herself up soon, they'll die.
But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn't going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She's also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she's going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones... and prevent an apocalypse before it's too late. Or, at least that's the plan...
The Hollows are back…and so am I! (I hope.) What better way to kick off my reviewing dust than to write about a series I’ve loved for almost a decade? Even though I was mostly disappointed last January by the slow-moving rehash of old events that was A Perfect Blood, I knew that this author wouldn’t hold still for long. This series, which now encompasses eleven books and will end at book thirteen (Thanks Megan!) never ceases to be inventive and surprising.
This book sees Rachel & Co. moving forward once again. Trouble is afoot in the ever after as Ceri and baby Lucy are kidnapped in the opening chapters and Rachel’s ley line suddenly starts draining the ever after at an alarming rate. The demons find it more convenient to blame Rachel, even though they all know that lab-created demon monstrosity Ku’Sox (aka Cute Socks) is to blame. In an effort to save the day for everyone once again, Rachel finds herself working more closely with Trent and the elves than she ever has before.
This is the installment that the Rachel/Trent fans have been waiting for. Harrison has been flirting with the idea of them as a couple for quite a while, and in this book I felt like she finally jumped off that cliff. I’m still not sure if I will be able to buy into their relationship as a long term thing. Harrison has certainly laid a lot of ground work over the past books, but a huge part of me will probably never be able to stop seeing Trent as the spoiled, arrogant rich pretty boy he was in the first book. (He also made a comment at the end of this book that really turned me off. It's pretty spoilery but I'll discuss in the comments if anyone's interested.)
However, it’s refreshing to look back and realize just how much he (and Al and Rachel and Ivy and well…everyone) has changed. This series never stagnates for me because Harrison lets her characters grow. After reading this book, I now feel like while A Perfect Blood may have been slow and tedious to read; it was ultimately a necessary step in the series. Rachel is more at home with her demon identity than ever, and it’s exciting to see her finally accept and use her powers to their fullest extent, without endless angst about the consequences. Harrison grows her characters slowly but surely – in short, realistically. Perhaps that means that one or two of these books has been more like a “transition” book but I think the end result is a much more fulfilling, believable story. I have faith that she'll make me believe in Trent by book thirteen.
(As an aside – Harrison’s short story, Trouble on Reserve, available for free with download of the Sony Reader App – went a long way toward convincing me of Trent’s worthiness and feelings for Rachel.)
As an extra today, I’d like to pay homage to one of my favorite posts of Flannery’s by listing “50 things very nearly guaranteed to happen” in a Hollows book. Like Flannery, I write these very much in good humor as a super-fan of Kim Harrison and her Hollows books. Yes, there is a certain formula to these books but what impresses me the most is how much Harrison frequently tosses that formula out the window.
50 Things Very Nearly Guaranteed to Happen in a Hollows Book
- The remodeled kitchen is described in loving detail, including the spelling pots that hang from the ceiling.
- Homemade cookies are made. The pixies warm themselves in the kitchen.
- Rachel petulantly refuses to work for Trent, but then ends up doing it anyway.
- The pixie children get up to all kinds of shenanigans (extra annoyance if it’s winter time).
- Rachel worries about Jenks being too cold/freezing to death and then describes his inventive winter Pixie clothes.
- Rachel’s freckles are hidden magically (first by her ring and then later by successive demon curses).
- The bunny-eared “kiss kiss”
- “Crap on toast…"
- Jenks makes off-color remarks about Tinkerbell’s sex toys approximately 1.2 billion times.
- Rachel and Trent, despite being powerful adult leaders, bicker like children.
- Rachel saves Trent’s life. Trent saves Rachel's life.
- Ivy and Jenks tease Rachel about her love life (rightfully so).
- Ivy stresses out about someone disturbing her papers/maps/planning table and drinks OJ to stave off the blood cravings. (OJ? Really Ivy?)
- Some human gets squeamish about tomatoes and everyone has a good laugh at his expense.
- Rachel raises a “molecule thin sheet of ever after” to protect herself.
- At some point, Rachel screams, “Why does no one ever listen to ME?”
- Followed closely by, “Can’t I catch a turn-blasted BREAK?”
- Rachel angsts about doing “'black' magic”
- …and laments how dark her aura is getting (thankfully, less and less as the series goes on).
- Rachel emotions appear in interesting ways. My favorite from this installment: “A layer of guilt slathered itself over me…”
- Rachel will feel guilty for anything and everything even slightly related to her. She apologizes to anyone and everyone, and then feels guilty for apologizing too much.
- The splat gun’s red appearance, spelled balls, and the fact that Rachel doesn’t need a permit to use it are explained, along with a few safety tips for its use.
- “Crap for brains.”
- Nick DOESN’T die. AGAIN. FOR GOD’S SAKE JUST DIE NICK!! DIEE!!!!
- Ivy crushes on David, much to his discomfort.
- Rachel has a sneezing attack that turns into a conversation with Al.
- Al’s green crushed velvet suit, blocky teeth, goat-slitted eyes, and British accent are all described in detail.
- “Rachel Mariana Morgan…my Itchy Witch.”
- Rachel and/or Trent reminisce about being at camp.
- Rachel notices how attractive Trent is, what he’s wearing, how sexy his voice is, and how impressive he occasionally is (more frequently as the series has progressed) but then insists that there isn’t, and can never be, anything between them.
- And yet, Rachel becomes intoxicated by Trent’s “cinnamon and wine” smell whenever they meet.
- Trent’s hair floats magically and he tries to press it back down.
- Rachel hates the smell of hospitals and remembers being in the children’s wing for months when she was battling Rosewood syndrome.
- Rachel wears an outfit that she thinks is professional but really, it isn’t. She pairs it with big leather boots, and talks at length about why leather is a practical fashion choice for her.
- Vampire pheromones run amok.
- Rachel has a huge cache of magic at her disposal but instead of using it, fights back by punching/kicking someone in the face.
- Rachel feels uncomfortably attracted to Ivy and describes her perfect hair, Asian features, and elegant clothes at length.
- The appearance and reasoning behind Quen’s pock mark scars are discussed.
- Jenks’ curly blonde hair, dragonfly wings, and Peter Pan pose are described.
- Jenks dusts red from embarrassment.
- “Tink’s dildo, Rache.”
- Pizza is ordered from Piscary’s.
- The horrible “burnt amber” smell of the ever after gets into everyone’s hair and clothes and ruins all the food. I still wonder what that actually smells like.
- Rachel promises to save one of the Inderlander races, even though she has no idea how she’s going to do it (seriously…the only race on Earth she hasn’t promised to help is the humans).
- The demons put Rachel through the ringer, even though she’s their only hope.
- Rachel doesn’t kill the bad guy out of some weird sense of morality and he lives to kick her ass again in the next book.
- One of the main characters dies…or doesn’t. No one’s safe so hold onto your hats!
- Rachel risks everything to save the world and doesn’t get paid.