When I first started reading Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series, I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. Part of that, I think, was all the hype - I think maybe my expectations were a little too high. And part of it was that I found Rachel a bit exasperating. She kept rushing into things without thinking or taking time to find out about the situation, and then when things fell apart, she'd try to fix it all, only to rush unthinkingly into a new situation, with the same result. What kept me reading was that, despite my occasional exasperation with her, I liked her. She tried to do the right thing, even when she was put (or put herself) in impossible situations - and she always took responsibility for the consequences of her actions.
I also liked the setting - this world in which the human population has been decimated by a disease that left the supernatural residents hale and healthy - and outed to the public. I found her relationship with the vampire Ivy to be complicated and interesting, and Jenks, the sidekick pixie, can fit in Rachel's hand but plays an equal role on the team. As the series progresses, the characters change and grow as a result of the action, and I like that. After a few books, I was definitely hooked, so of course I was excited when my copy of this, the ninth book in the series, arrived for me at the library.
It is difficult to say too much about this one without revealing spoilers to earlier books, so if you are at all interested in an action-packed, fantastical adventure series, I advise you to check out my review of Dead Witch Walking, the first book in this series.
This book opens with Rachel setting out for San Francisco, where she is going to the annual witches' conference. As a result of a deal she made with one of the council members in the previous book, she is supposed to be exonerated for her alleged use of black magic, and the shunning the council placed on her is to be reversed. Rachel, however, is the only one who actually believes this is going to happen. Instead of a quick and easy plane ride to San Francisco, though, what she gets is a long, complicated and perilous road trip across the country - accompanied by Trent, who is on a mysterious mission. The last thing she wants is to have to deal with Trent, who is undeniably attractive but definitely untrustworthy. He doesn't seem too thrilled about her company, either, and when a day-walking demon gets loose and starts wreaking bloody havoc, it becomes doubtful whether they'll even make it to the conference at all.
This was a rip-roaring adventure ride from start to finish, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved that we finally get to know a little more about Trent, as well as the reality inhabited by the demons. And I really loved that in this book Rachel is thinking and taking control of the situation, not hiding from unpleasant truths. I did find myself wishing for further development of her relationship with Ivy, though, which seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit as the series has progressed. As series become longer, I imagine it becomes difficult to focus on all the various elements of earlier books, but I do hope there will be some time spent on Ivy in the next installment. There is a satisfying conclusion to the book, but there are also so many open-ended plot strands that I will be impatiently waiting for the next installment of this highly entertaining series.
Books in the Hollows/Rachel Morgan series:
1. Dead Witch Walking
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
3. Every Which Way but Dead
4. A Fistful of Charms
5. For a Few Demons More
6. The Outlaw Demon Wails
7. White Witch, Black Curse
8. Black Magic Sanction
9. Pale Demon
Pale Demon (#9 in the Hollows/Rachel Morgan series) by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager, 2011)
Also reviewed at:
A Book Blogger's Diary: "Flat out, this is the best book I've read so far this year. Like fine wine, The Hollows is a series that has just grown better with time."
Beyond Books: "I do hope that Ivy reappears in the next novel and actually has a role because I miss her. Other than that, I had a great time reading this book."
I'd So Rather Be Reading: "While nine books can sometimes be too long for some series, Kim Harrison's work just keeps getting better, and I hope we get at least three more."