Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pale Demon (The Hollows, Book 9)TTitle:  Pale Demon
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: HarperCollins (22 Feb 2011)
Genre: Urban Fantasy (alternately Contemporary Fantasy)
Pages: 448 Hardcover have a love/hate relationship with Rachel Morgan.  It's mostly love, or I wouldn't be here telling you about Pale Demon, book 9, of Kim Harrison's Hollows series.  But hate has sneaked in once more.  As I'm reading the book, I'm tucking away bits of info to go into the review: it starts with recognition of the heartache that the characters (and thus we loyal fans) suffered at the end of the last book; Trent comes in early and plays a heavy role (yay for those of us who have secret Trent redemption fantasies).  It didn't take me long to think I'd be pimping this with a focus on those who aren't sure they're dying for next book.  Believe me, you want to read this.

Then, at halfway through (my e-arc; there's not telling just where this scene will land in the edition you end up with), hate smacked me like a spell knocking me almost into the ever-after.  A character did something absolutely unforgivable, and Rachel's reaction, after a bit of temper: I'd done some pretty stupid things in my day, too.

Rachel could be the poster child for stupid things, so she's got me there.  But this...this is the sort of thing that evil characters are made of, not an "oops" that we can forgive our friends for.  And Rachel lets it go without so much as a "My bad."  Unacceptable. 

Why continue reading?  Because Kim Harrison is that damn good a writer.  I've learned that, if I give the story the chance, not only will I be entertained, but Harrison will also fill the breaks that make me go, "Wait...what?"  Things that I thought were mistakes turn out to be character and world building genius.  Reading more, I discover that the genius had continued in Pale Demon.

If you new and you've read all that thinking "Thanks for avoiding spoilers, but what's this all about?" read on.

Dead Witch Walking  starts off the Hollows series featuring Rachel Morgan, a "runner" (kinda like a cop) and witch in Cincinnati after "The Turn".  See, the world has changed thanks to genetically modified tomatoes and the virus they spread that took out a quarter of the human population.  Hidden in plain sight, supernatural races came out and stepped up, keeping society from crashing.  Rachel, her pixy partner Jinx, and drop-dead-gorgeous  living vampire Ivy make up a team of runners that help police the city since stand human cops are not equipped to bring in supernaturals who don't want to come quietly.

The bad news is that, if you're like me and a book or series first described as funny doesn't rock your boat, you might roll your eyes through a lot of Dead Witch Walking.  Rachel's cases are on the sillier side of serious and I might not have made it through the first half of the book if I hadn't been so determined to see what all the buzz was about.  Then the action gripped me and I was buzzing, too!

The effort to amuse is, in my mind, the worst part, and it is quickly replaced by the organic sort of humor that even we grumpy people can enjoy.  The best part is the characterization.  Rachel is flawed, as all good characters are.  Her taste in clothes is hooker chic, she makes terrible decisions about relationships, and at the start, she doesn't begin to understand how screwed up she is.  And everybody else knows it--a lovely factor in a genre where the worst personality traits are often counted as good things.  Her friends see her clearly, loving her despite and because of her faults, and addressing them.  There is adventure, action, love, and heart ache, but there's something more in the characters that makes me especially want to recommend this series.