Saturday, 26 January 2013

#CBR5 Book 9. "Ever After" by Kim Harrison

Page count: 448 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

SPOILER WARNING! This is book 11 in a series, and as such, not the best place to start reading Ms. Harrison's books. This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series, so if you're new to this author, skip this review, and go start at the beginning with Dead Witch Walking. You can come back and read this review once you've worked your way through books 1-10. It'll still be here.

Just as Rachel Morgan thinks that she's finally starting to get a semblance of stability in her life again, something comes along to turn everything on its head again. As various human and witch authorities stop trying to hound, trap and/or kill her due to her unique genetic abilities, Rachel finds herself on trial in the Ever After, the demon realm parallel to our own. The Ever After is rapidly shrinking, and the majority of the demons feel it's all Rachel's fault. She has only a few days to prove that it's a setup by the psychotic and extremely powerful Ku' Sox (who kills people and eats their souls for fun), who's tampered with the rift where the realm appears to be leaking, and on top of everything, he's kidnapped Rachel's goddaughter Lucy and her friend Ceri. Ku' Sox claims that the rift will close automatically once Rachel is killed, but Rachel knows that with the destruction of the Ever After, no one would have the power to control him.

So Rachel needs to stop Lucy's father (her former nemesis Trent Kalamack) from doing something incredibly rash to try to rescue his daughter, fix the leaking ley line, clear her name by proving that Ku' Sox set her up, rescue Lucy and Ceri, and try to figure out what the heck seems to be going on with between her and Trent, all in four days. If she fails, she will be killed, the Ever After will dissolve, all non-human and elven magic will stop working and Ku' Sox will become unstoppable. With her demon teacher Al out of commission and Trent unable to interfere because his daughter being held hostage, she's going to have to sort things out on her own, with only an adolescent gargoyle and a pixie to help.

Kim Harrison has said that there will be 13 books in The Hollows series, and it's clear that she's starting to move the story lines towards the conclusion of the series, slowly but surely giving the readers some indication of where the various characters are going to end up. She's not quite tied up all the loose ends yet, and this book shows that she still has surprises up her sleeve to keep loyal readers on their toes, but it's nice to know that things are building towards a finale, and a hopeful happy ending for Rachel and her friends.

Rachel has come such a long way from the beginning of the series, and she's constantly discovering that things are never as black and white as she once thought they were. In this book, she has to face some incredibly dangerous and tense situations, mostly completely unaided by any of her many friends and allies. Fans of Algaliarept, her sarcastic demon teacher, will be happy to hear that he's a lot more prominent in this story than in the last few, and as I've been a huge fan of Trent, even when he was a loathsome antagonist in some of the earlier books, it's so refreshing to see the relationship between him and Rachel changing into one of tentative understanding and trust.

If you've read and enjoyed the previous ten books in this series, this one will provide action and tension and a couple of shocking and really very unexpected losses. I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to finish it, and actually cheered at parts of the very dramatic final quarter of the book. I'm very excited about the direction Harrison seems to be taking the series in, and hope that it's not just some clever double bluff.

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