Kim Harrison


The fourth book in the Hollows Urban Fantasy series. I bought this one first and didn’t know that it’s a part of a series. I really like the book titles which all allude to Westerns. The stories don’t resemble them, though.

Publication year: 2006
Page count: 528
Format: print
Publisher: HarperTorch

Rachel Morgan is again in trouble. She became part of David’s pack in order to get cheaper health care but right at the start another Werewolf alpha challenges her. Rachel has to fight her surprised and weaponless while six other alphas back up Rachel’s challenger. Rachel manages to win but only barely and she knows that she has pissed off several Werewolves. So, she searches for a way to defend herself in the future – and finds one in a demon curse. The curse allows her to change herself into a wolf but takes a toll on her soul. Rachel convinces herself that she will only do it once.

Jenks is still angry to Rachel and doesn’t want to talk to her. However, when Jenks’ wife Matalina tells Rachel that Rachel’s former boyfriend Nick has convinced Jenks’ oldest son Jax to leave with Nick and help him steal something, Rachel realizes that she has to help Jax – and at the same time Nick. Nick and Jax are out of town and as a small pixie Jenks can’t go after them. Rachel manages to convince Jenks to work with her again and together they go after the thieving duo. However, Nick is in a lot more trouble than Rachel could have imagined.

In order for Jenks to travel to another city, Rachel uses a demon curse (just this once!) to make him six foot tall. Jenks turns out to be a really handsome young man and Rachel drools over him several times. However, we also find out the real reason why Jenks has distanced himself from his previous partners. It turns out that he’s actually quite old and he’s worried that his skills are going to deteriorate soon.

Ivy and Rachel’s relationship seems to come to a turning point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really change anything as they are both just as angsty about each other as before, if not more so. Poor Ivy has to also do a pretty bad thing to bail out Rachel and she seems to be more messed up than before. Rachel is now with the vampire Kisten but she still has feelings for Nick and Nick wants her back, so there’s also lots of angst about them. She’s also increasingly confused about Ivy and insists that she’s strictly hetero while wanting to ”filling in the emotional void” inside Ivy. So, the soap opera content is high. The unresolved plot thread is Kalamach doesn’t continue. Also, Ivy and Jenks call Nick “crap for brains” and constantly threaten to mutilate or kill him. I think he deserved it but it got old quickly.

After being angry with Rachel for a long time, Jenks starts to quickly trust her again and becomes extremely loyal to her. He’s also very effective fighter even though his size has changed drastically. We also get to see the more savage side of the pixie up close and personal. Even though we’ve been told about the bloody fights between pixies and fairies, it didn’t really feel real to me, or supposed wild fighting between four inch people felt even humorous, until Jenks kicks werewolf ass with just a lead pipe.

The main plot starts fast-paced but slows considerably once Ivy shows up. Unfortunately, there’s little character development. Rachel is still doing stupid mistakes; somehow she assumes that demon curses aren’t black magic and she still doesn’t know much about vampires even tough she lives with one and is dating another. She’s also again keeping secrets from her partner and walking around with a vampire bite.

The book has as much humor as the previous books; the people in the small town aren’t used to Interlanders and they are really racists towards Jenks and Rachel. However, the duo get their revenge. As pixie, Jenks has to constantly do something and that’s amplified when he’s so large. The local ladies are also very attracted to him. And of course, Rachel has her humorous lines.

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The third book in the Hollows UF series. It starts a couple of months after the previous book.

Rachel Morgan is an earth witch, who dabbles into ley line witchery as well, and a private investigator of sorts. She owns her own company with her two partners: Ivy Tamwood who is a living vampire and the pixie Jenks. They all live in a former church together as roommates. Ivy has a thing for Rachel but she’s determined to be just friends with her. Rachel has been bitten by a demon who was transformed into a vampire at the time and so, she has a vampire bite which every vampire can manipulate and arouse her sexually. Ivy is one of the most powerful vampires in Cincinnati and is protecting Rachel from all of the vampires.

It’s wintertime near solstice. When it gets too cold, pixies have to hibernate through the winter. However, when Jenks and his wife Mataline confess that they usually lose a couple of kids during the hibernation, Rachel insists that they spend the winter in the warm church. So now, the church is filled with playful and screaming pixie children.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s previous choices are biting her in the butt. In the previous book, The Good, the Bad, and the Undead, she had to make a deal with a demon. Essentially, she agreed to become the demon’s familiar. However, she thinks that she has found a way to cheat the demon Algaliarept and get out of the contract. Even though things don’t go as well as planned, she manages to free Al’s previous familiar, a thousand-years old woman Ceridwen Dulciate and give her a temporary home.

Things are bleak in Rachel’s personal life; her (human) boyfriend Nick has been distant lately and sometimes even out of town without telling her. Then, Nick says that he will be gone for several months and Rachel has no choice but to decide that she has been dumped. However, I think that Nick’s action are justifiable considering that Rachel was incompetent enough to accidentally make Nick her familiar. So, every time she taps into the ley line magic, Nick suffers.

Then, Rachel’s arch nemesis’ number two, the security guy Quen, wants Rachel to protect his boss. He makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

Once again I’m more fascinated by the supporting cast than the main heroine herself. Ivy faces a big problem; she’s the scion of the most powerful vampire and crime boss of the city, and she doesn’t want it. Unfortunately, this was a minor side plot in this book but I’m hoping it will get more time later. Jenks is always a delight with his sarcastic humor. However, he’s gone for most of the book. I also enjoyed meeting Ivy’s family.

Ceridwen is an interesting addition to the cast and I hope we’ll see much more of her. I was a bit disappointed that she was actually able to speak modern English without any trouble (her native tongue is most likely Celtic) and was familiar with modern technology without any explanation. However, I hope that she will show her ancient background more later in the series. She should also be a fountain of magical knowledge and demon knowledge to Rachel.

I guess my main problem with the book is with Rachel. She’s supposed to be a professional witch but she doesn’t actually know much about her supposed profession. Granted, she does know about law and making the runs, and this time she even learn something new about magic. She also managed to forget (forget!!) that if she leaves holy ground the demon can claim her. How the hell can you forget something like that! However, for me she made her biggest mistake with the living vampire Kisten. Kisten was pretty weirdly inconsistent in the book. In one scene he was obnoxious and flirting, and in the next he’s supposed to be open and caring? Not to mention that since he’s high ine the criminal hierarchy, he’s done pretty heinous things in the past. And in this book, too. I do have high hopes that this, too, will bite Rachel in the butt.

It was nice to know more about pixies and elves and I’m hoping that we’ll get to know ever more about them and about the other races in the Hollows. Most of the non-human characters in the book were vampires and they are already starring in quite a few other books.

Once again, some people make a big deal about the sex in the series. However, while there is a lot of sexual tension between various characters, especially vampires, there’s only one sex scene in the book.

Please don’t start reading the series with this book! There are a lot of references to the previous books in the series.

The second book in the urban fantasy series called Hollows.

It’s also the last book in my 2nds challenge . The final book list turned out to be somewhat different that the one I started with but I had fun! If this challenge is done next year, too, I’m likely to join again. Of course, I already have quite a few series now to get through…

Much to my surprise, this book was in my local library. As far as I can tell, it’s also the only book of the Hollows –series which is in the Finnish library system. Sigh.

The book starts with Rachel Morgan and her pixie partner Jenks undercover trying to steal a fish. One of the local baseball teams suspect that a rival has stolen their mascot, the fish, and hired Rachel to steal it back. Things don’t go exactly as planned but Rachel and Jenks manage to get away with their prize. A F.I.B agent rescues them from the rival team’s werewolves. It appears that the F.I.B. need a consult in Interlanders affairs and because Rachel had worked with them before, their Captain Edden decided to employ her again.

Trent Kalamack’s secretary Sara Jane has tearfully reported that her fiancé is missing. Rachel feels that she owes Sara Jane for what she did for Rachel in the previous book and agrees to investigate. Dan is witch and Captain Edden believes that he was murdered by a notorious serial killer who is targeting lay line witches. Edden’s primary suspect is Dr. Anders because many of the victims were on her classes and he offers Rachel a chance to go into the Anders’ class undercover. However, Rachel is convinced that Kalamack is behind the killings but she agrees to take the class despite the fact that when she took it the first time, also under Dr. Anders, she failed it. To say the least, Anders doesn’t want Rachel in her class.

Rachel’s roommate, the living vamp Ivy, is horrified that Rachel agreed to work a case that’s connected to Kalamack. However, something else is also bothering the normally cool and level-headed Ivy. To make matters worse, Rachel finds out that her human boyfriend Nick seems to be dabbling into summoning demons. Also, she has trouble getting around because one of her spell went awry in a bus last year and the bus drivers are trying to avoid her. She doesn’t own a car.

I rather enjoy Rachel’s circle of friends: Ivy, Jenks, Nick, and even captain Edden and agent Glenn. They are all distinct from each other and rather dysfunctional as a group. Ivy is an upper class vampire who is “slumming” with Rachel and this time we come to see quite a bit more about her decision to leave I.S. and to stay with Rachel. The pixie Jenks is a very entertaining character: curious, loudmouthed, opinionated, and yet fiercely protective of his own. His clouds of children are also entertaining.

We also get more info about the lay line magic when Rachel is forced to use more of it. Dr. Anders requires her to have a familiar so that she can continue the class and so she has to find a way to bind one to her. The demon which was seen in the previous book has a large part to play in this book as well. I guess I have to admit that I’m a bit frustrated with how little Rachel seems to know about magic which is supposed to be her specialty. She mostly muddles through with luck and guessing.

The plot flows out more smoothly this time than in the previous book, Dead Witch Walking. However, it still somewhat relies on characters doing stupid thing such as not listening to others or doing something in the heat of anger. Rachel is quite impatient and not subtle at all. Still, it strikes me a bit odd that she would be so impatient to arrest Kalamack that she would ignore proper procedure which might lead to Kalamack not being sentenced even if he was arrested.

There’s also a change in the mood in the last part of the book which I found a little jarring. The start and the middle feel to me quite light hearted. Then, near the end the stakes are raised dramatically and the mood becomes much darker. At the end, Rachel is in even more trouble than when she started and her circle of friends will probably not trust each other as much as before. I have mixed feelings about it but I’m curious to see what happens next.

Oh, there’s one sex scene in the book but it’s relevant to the characters and the plot.

This is part of my 9 book challenge and 1st in a series challenge.

First of all, this book has a horrid cover. I would never have picked up this one if it hadn’t been recommended again and again. I have no idea which book the cover was commissioned for but it’s a very poor fit for the story. The cover sells sex and the book contains no sex at all. Even the romance subplot is very much a *sub*plot. (By the way, poor Moon Called suffers from the same problem; the cover tells us that it’s about sex, sex, sex, and yet there’s no sex in the story. Enough already with the phony sexy covers!)

This is the first book in the Hollows Urban Fantasy –series. It’s set (as usual) in the US but in a post apocalyptic world. Or at least that’s what I call a world were half of the population has died of a virus.

Some years back, scientists were genetically engineering a brand of tomatoes and the virus got loose from the laboratories. It killed about a half of the normal human population and so gave the non-humans a chance to come out of the shadows. The non-humans pretty much saved the infrastructure of various Western countries but still (or because of it) the normal humans are often afraid of them. Even though now the non-humans live openly they often have their own part of the town where normal humans don’t much visit. The paranormal folk include pixies, fairies, vampires, leprechauns, various weres, witches, warlocks, and other fairy tale folks. In Cincinnati, their part of the town is called the Hollows.

Rachel Morgan is a witch and a runner for I. S. I. S is Inderland Security who is supposed to keep the paranormals, or Inderlanders, honest. As a runner, Rachel’s job is to bring in the non-lawful kinds of paranormals. Alas, the job isn’t as exciting as it sounds because Rachel has mostly brought in folks who try to avoid paying their taxes. She’s convinced that her boss hates her and is just looking for an excuse to fire her. She’s also thought of just quitting except then she would breach her contract with the I. S. and they can send assassins after her unless she can pay off her contract and she doesn’t have that kind of money. But if her boss, Denon, hates her, shouldn’t he be just relieved to be rid of her?

When Rachel talks about quitting with her co-workers, pixie Jenks and living vampire Ivy Tamwood, much to her surprise they not only encourage her but want to quit also and to form an independent agency with her. Denon isn’t happy that one of his best runners, Ivy, leaves. Ivy has so much money that she can pay off her contract so I.S can’t (officially) send anyone after her. So Denon decides to send assassins after Rachel.

While Rachel is in the office during her last day, she hears that a Councilman’s secretary has been murdered and that there’s a rumor that the secretary had been running drugs. Rachel is suddenly convinced that if she can get solid evidence that the Councilman in question, Trenton Kalamack, is dealing in illegal drugs that would big enough favor for I. S. and they would leave her alone. So, she decides to investigate Kalamack.

Of course, that’s not easy. Even if the Councilman wasn’t well guarded Rachel’s own life has been turned upside down. She has been evicted from her apartment and all of her stuff has a curse on it. Fortunately, Ivy was able to find them an office at Hollows so at least Rachel has a place to stay. The office turns out to be a former church which Rachel isn’t too happy about. Ivy had to also move into the church and a vampire isn’t the easiest roommate. Fortunately, the church has an excellent herb garden and the priest used to be a witch himself. When he fled with a woman he left behind many old spell books. This all seems almost too good to be true and maybe it is.

Dead Witch Walking is a highly entertaining first book in the series. It’s not tightly plotted nor is it very fast paced but it has charming characters and a very interesting setting. It also has humor which tends to be sadly missing from UF and from the fantasy genre in general.

I really liked the characters. Rachel herself is willful, impulsive, and brash. She doesn’t listen advice well (just like some people I know :)). On the other hand, she’s loyal, always means well and has a good sense of humor. The pixie Jenks is perhaps the best character in the book. He’s smart mouthed but what do you expect when he’s six inches tall and has to live in the human world? Pixies also have a fierce rivalry with fairies over gardens because they both live in gardens. Jenks has a wife and a dozen children who help him in his duties and his wife patches him up after fights. The living vampire Ivy is a more mysterious and tragic figure – what else would you expect from a vampire… She swears that she hasn’t fed on human blood for three years but can Rachel trust her word? After all they have only worked together but don’t know much about each other beyond that.

I liked the relationships and friendships in the book and Harrison takes the time to introduce the relationships and the characters to us instead of keeping up a furious pace all the time. There’s also humor in both the characters and the events themselves and I felt that Harrison didn’t take everything too seriously which is a good thing. I really liked the shapeshifting sequences.

Rachel doesn’t have a big repertoire with spells and she’s used to buying her spells from stores. So far I’m impressed with the way the supernatural works although it would seem that it’s quite easy to do all sorts of illegal activity with spells. Of course, then the I. S. steps in.

Overall: I’ll definitely continue with the series.