Classification: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Hollows
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: 501 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (June 28, 2005)
Author's Website: http://kimharrison.net/
Notes: I own it.
Life will probably never be easy for Rachel Morgan. After putting Piscary behind bars, she's earned a reputation of being the area's big bad witch. With Cincinatti's biggest supernatural crime lord, Piscary, temporarily out of the picture, things are heating up. A turf war is ensuing for the area's coveted Brimstone and gambling trades. Kisten is struggling to keep Piscary's holdings secure while Saladan makes a play to take them over. Trent Kalamack's secondary brimstone business is also being threatened by Saladan. He's positive Saladan is behind all the batches of bad brimstone that have been plaguing the area of late. He's attempting to get it off the street. Both Trent and Kisten will need Rachel to help intimidate the competition and keep him at bay.
Rachel, however, is having problems of her own. Since accidentally making Nick her familiar, he's been avoiding her and it looks like their relationship might not survive. Worse, in order to get Piscary locked up she had to make a deal with the devil, er, demon, and agreed to become Al's familiar. Now she's attempting to elude Al to prevent him from taking her into the Ever After and making her his permanent slave. Can she out wit the demon and save herself from a fate some say is worse than death?
In the previous two books we've gotten to know Rachel and her crew, but now we really start to get a sense of each of the character's vulnerabilities. They remind me a touch of the Island of Misfit Toys where a group bands together who don't truly feel they fit in with what is expected of them and are trying to find a place where they do. Rachel seems to be the glue that binds this group together, but she's not invulnerable either. In the last book Piscary insinuated Rachel was afraid of desire. I don't believe that is totally accurate. Someone in this book suggests she's afraid of herself. I'm thinking it's a combination of the two. Rachel is a powerful witch and some people (like Nick) find that intimidating and a bit scary. She needs people around her that won't envy her her powers and are secure enough in their own that her strength and power don't scare them. While the same traits in a man would earn him admiration, esteem, and respect, those same traits in a woman tend to have the opposite affect on some individuals. When Nick starts to pull away from Rachel, he pulls up all those insecurities Rachel has acquired over the years.
Kisten, surprisingly, identifies Rachel's vulnerability and we get to see him do what he does best--seduce Rachel. I can't help but feel that Ivy may have been a little too free with her tongue in regards to what she told him about Rachel. He and Rachel had spent so little time in one another's company prior to that, that it's the only way I can see how he could have figured out which of her buttons to push. This is where the relationship, so many have commented, on begins. What makes Rachel so appealing and admirable is that she doesn't compromise herself in anyway to conform to what society or any other individual feels she should be. She stays true to herself, and you can either accept her or not. Kisten is willing to accept her just the way she is, or so he says. I have to admit, after reading this book I'm not in the Kisten fan club at the moment. I'll be curious to see this relationship develops and am curious if my opinion of him will change? There were so many things that he did in this book that I had objections to. Granted, the chemistry between these two was flammable, but I'm not convinced he'd make good boyfriend material. I also have a question about what's up with the anklets that both Ivy and another woman have acquired from Kisten? Does it have some significance? It struck me as rather odd.
Kisten is also the one who identifies what makes Ivy tick. While we already knew that she doesn't like being a vampire, Kisten surprisingly reveals that to vampires, "Trust is a feeling we don't get very often, Rachel. Living vampires lust after it almost as much as blood. That's why Ivy is ready to kill anyone who threatens your friendship with her." Yet another insight into Ivy's mindset as well as vampires in general. I have to give Kisten credit, he's got balls to pursue Rachel when Ivy's so territorial about her.
Jenks also reveals his soft spot. Pixies are at the bottom of the supernatural totem pole. I've found this rather odd, because in book one we clearly see Jenks and his crew fight off assassin fairies rather easily. You'd think fairies would rank less, but for whatever reason it's pixies. I think Jenks was drawn to Rachel because she's always treated him with respect and as an equal. In his book, that goes a long way. In Dead Witch Walking, we saw how touched Jenks was when Rachel offered him and his family the garden to live in. To him that was everything. It gave his family security and a better chance at surviving. When Rachel keeps Trent's species a secret from him, it brings those old feelings of being inferior. Jenks, as Ivy states, "has and ego the size of the Grand Canyon." and Rachel not trusting him with the secret hurt him more than anything else could. While I feel he overreacts to the news, I loved how telling it was.
This book was filled to the brim with action and new characters. David Hue, an insurance adjuster makes his debut, and due to being in the wrong place (Rachel's) at the wrong time, he ends up becoming an ally and friend. Ceri, an elf who's been at Al's mercy for a thousand years, makes her appearance as well. Let me just say, I'm baffled that Rachel would put her in the protective custody of someone she (Rachel) knew so little about. This was by far one of the oddest things I've found thus far in the series. Newt, a female demon, also makes her first appearance and she is crazy scary, but hints that she knows things about Rachel. I look forward to finding out more about the only female demon alive.
I gave this one 4 1/2 our of 5 roses. I'm not sold on Kisten, but I'm keeping an open mind. I love how Rachel is acquiring good friends as the series progresses. I think the friendship between Rachel, Jenks, and Ivy will become stronger and more secure in the future even if at the moment Jenks is still mad at Rachel. I think his anger dissapate and he'll come to his senses. Ivy and Rachel's relationship seemed to take a big step in the right direction where Rachel and outside male relationships are concerned. I don't think she ever saw Nick as a threat, but her acceptance of Rachel's relationship with Kisten seems to indicate she's come to terms with it. At times this friendship has seemed a bit risky, but risk seems to be Rachel's middle name. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.