I’ve been slowly working my way through Kim Harrison’s urban fantasy series, The Hollows. For CBR10, I’m finally reviewing the ninth book in the series, Pale Demon. The book kicks off with the powerful witch, Rachel, and her supernatural business partners and BFFs, Jinx the pixie and Ivy the living vampire, on their way to the national witches convention in San Francisco. Rachel also needs to attend her brother’s wedding. She’s excited to see her mom at least. Of course, supernatural troubles won’t make the 2,300+ mile trek across the country easy. If you haven’t read the previous books beware of mild spoilers below and skip to the last paragraph for my thoughts.
At the end of the last book, Rachel made a deal with Oliver from The Coven to remove her shunning in exchange for Rachel to not expose the sordid secret of the witch race being a genetic experimentation by demons. To seal the deal, Rachel must testify at the convention and be cleared for using black magic. Trent, a powerful elf and shrewd businessman, visits Rachel while she’s packing for her trip. He warns her that The Coven might still be out to kill her – deal or no deal. Stubborn as always, Rachel doesn’t want his advice. Trent’s warning is accompanied by a selfish request of course. He needs Rachel’s protection as a bodyguard to ensure he also gets to Seattle before a Sunday midnight deadline. His own bodyguard, Quinn, is waiting for the birth of his child and leave his beloved Ceri’s side while so close to delivery. There’s of course a catch since someone is out for Trent’s blood who don’t want him to make it to Seattle. Before Rachel can assess the situation, two assassins attack! Not a great blessing to take the job. But when Rachel is blocked from all air travel, she’s forced to take Trent along on this road from hell. Danger finds their way even before leaving Cinncinatti! Not far along on the road, elven assassins chase them. That predicament ends with a bridge to collapse, yet another Rachel crisis involving bridges. They have to fight off an evil daywalker demon in a national park and yet another fight for their lives in a Vegas tourist restaurant. And that’s before all hell breaks loose in San Francisco! During this dangerous journey, Jinx and Trent unexpectedly become bros. Ivy and Rachel have a heart to heart (again) with each coming out more aware of their relationship. And of course, Rachel and Pierce have more romantic turmoil while Al continues to come between the two witches. The book ends with a whopper of a realization about both Rachel and Trent.
The ninth book was a very easy read. Even though I had the paperback, I ended up reading it all with the audiobook during my work commute. The narrator was better than expected. Harrison packs in a ton of character growth and implications for her supernatural world within the road trip format. I wouldn’t say this is my absolute favorite entry, but it has some hilarious and thrilling moments. I would suggest reading the previous books to understand the dynamics between the four characters before this book. It’ll help you understand Rachel’s motivation and catch when other characters are acting weird though all is revealed in the end. I’d highly recommend this book if you like Kim Harrison’s other novels, Ilona Andrews, Karen Moening and fans of the Supernatural tv show.
Read more of my book reviews and musings on my blog, Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict.