Friday, 26 February 2010

CBR 30: "Black Magic Sanction" by Kim Harrison

Publisher: Eos
Page count: 496 pages
Date begun: February 23rd, 2010
Date finished: February 26th, 2010

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE RACHEL MORGAN SERIES!

I spend a lot of every year waiting for books by various authors to come out. Since 2006 I've been waiting impatiently for the next installment of Kim Harrison's books. This eight book her Hollows series is no exception.

Rachel Morgan is a witch, living in an alternate universe Cincinnati. In Harrison's world, witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies, fairies, elves and even demons exist side by side with the humans. They stayed hidden until an event know as the Turn, when a plague caused by bio-engineered tomatoes killed off a substantial amount of the human population. The supernatural beings (minus the elves, due to a lot of inbreeding with humans) were immune to the disease, and helped put the world to rights again. So most humans fear and avoid anything to do with tomatoes, bio-engineering is strictly outlawed, and there are two law enforcement agencies, one run by the supernaturals, one by humans.

Rachel lives in a church, and is a runner (a sort of bounty hunter/private detective). She works with her best friends, Ivy, a living vampire (has enhanced senses and strength, drinks blood - but can still go out in sunlight and live in a church, won't become full vamp until she dies) and Jenks, a pixie, whose huge family live in the church garden. Due to increasingly complicated events in previous books, the witches' Coven for Moral and Ethical Standards has shunned Rachel as a black witch (which means that no decent witch should have anything to do with her, or sell her things, or help her in any way). It probably doesn't help that every weekend she has to go into the Everafter (where the demons live) and take lessons from a demon. Not content to have her avoided by most of polite society, the Coven now want to imprison Rachel in Alcatraz, lobotomize her, and harvest her eggs.

Rachel clearly does not find this amusing, and needs to find a way to getting the Coven off her back, and preferably, her shunning completely revoked. She keeps having increasingly more chaotic confrontations with the Coven, her sneaky, thieving, no-good ex-boyfriend Nick is back in town, her nemesis Trent Kalamack wants her to sign a paper that will pretty much mean he owns her, and Al, her demonic tutor, seems to think that the best thing for her would be to just move in with him, and avoid the human world altogether.

Black Magic Sanction is, as I mentioned, the eight book in this series, and would really not work very well as an introduction to Kim Harrison's world and characters. The book features a huge number of Harrison's recurring characters from previous books. People and events from previous books are constantly referenced, and as a long-time reader of the book, I found it amusing and satisfying to see how Harrison utilized many of them. Rachel does spend a bit too much time brooding and agonizing over previous choices, and especially bemoaning her fairly disastrous previous love life when considering a new love interest (who I'm still not sure if I like or not, don't quite see him staying until the end of the series), but most of the time the book is action-packed and very amusing, while still having an interlude that made me cry.

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