Saturday 1 March 2014

#CBR6 Book 19: "The Undead Pool" by Kim Harrison

Page count: 512 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This book is book 12 and the penultimate in The Hollows series, with several story lines that have been building throughout the series. It's absolutely NOT the place to start. If you haven't read these, start with Dead Witch Walking. Frankly, if you don't know the series, you'd probably be best just skipping this review.

Rachel is working security for Trent while Quen is on the West Coast. Despite her many former misgivings about working for and with the billionaire, she's been enjoying herself, possibly a bit too much. She's keeps fighting her increasing attraction to Trent, he's engaged to someone else, and would risk losing everything if he broke the alliance off. When a spell badly misfires while they're out on the golf course, Rachel gets worried that there is something wrong with her magic, or that her ley line is badly affected again. It turns out that her exploding the golf ball headed for Trent's head is just one in a long series of magic mishaps all around Cincinatti. Whatever is making the magic react unexpectedly and dangerously, is also affecting the vampire masters around the city and chaos is starting to erupt.

Having investigated, it appears Rachel's ley line is indeed involved, and somehow leaking wild magic, the magic normally only controlled by the elves. It also appears the wild magic is being syphoned off by rogue vampires, in some sort of conspiracy to kill off all the undead vampires in the city. There could be a war brewing between the vampires and the elves, and Rachel and her friends need to stop it.

The last few books of Harrison's Hollows series have focused more on Rachel accepting her identity as the only day walking demon and realising that being a demon doesn't mean she has to be evil or damned. The previous book, Ever After, featured Al, Newt and the other demons quite prominently. In this book, they take more of a back seat, with vampires, elves and werewolves taking centre stage. With the undead vampire masters asleep, their living vampire minions start exploiting their sudden freedom and there is a rogue group calling themselves Free Vampires want to kill off all the old undead masters. They've figured out a way to use wild magic to their advantage, and as wild magic is the kind controlled by the elves. The fact that Trent hasn't heard anything shows how much his recent dealings with Rachel have put him out of the confidences of the power factions among his own people.

It was nice to see supporting characters like Ivy and David featuring more prominently again, as well as Captain Edden. I also liked finding out more about the elven hierarchy and religion, but the best part of the book to me is, without a doubt, the changing relationship between Rachel and Trent. Trenton Aloysious Kalamack (I love the middle names Harrison gives her characters) has come a long way from the ruthless and unscrupulous villain who kept Rachel trapped in a cage (she was a mink at the time) in the first book. He's always been an interesting character, prone to steal every scene he's in, this series has been just as much about Trent redeeming himself, as it's been about Rachel growing up, discovering who she really is and how her unique heritage makes her so important to several of the supernatural races.

Over the course of the previous eleven books, Rachel's had several love interests, but her chemistry with Trent, even when they were bitter enemies, has always been undeniable. Yet it wasn't until they were forced to spend three days together on a road trip in Pale Demon that it was obvious that the two were perfect for each other. Yet it's quite clear that a lot of sacrifices will have to be made for them to have a chance together.

By the time Charlaine Harris got to her book 12, I was desperately ready for her to finish the series, and pretty much just stuck with it to see how it would end. Harrison has had some ups and downs in her series too, but generally, I've always at least enjoyed the books, and at best, absolutely loved them. My annual visit to the Hollows, hanging out with Rachel, Jenks, Ivy and Trent is something I look forward to. I'm sad that there is only going to be one more book until these characters hopefully all survive and get their happy endings (Harrison has in several interviews promised HEAs for all those who are alive at the end, making me worried about which of them who aren't going to make it through).

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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