Tuesday, 2 May 2017
#CBR9 Book 37: "The Outlaw Demon Wails" by Kim Harrison
Rating: 5 stars
This is book six in a series, it's very much not the place to start reading. In fact, there's a whole bunch of stuff revealed in this book that really requires prior knowledge to the books, so go start at the beginning with Dead Witch Walking.
Rachel still has absolutely no idea who killed her boyfriend, and because of the memory potion she drank, her memories of the event are still very fuzzy. Someone is summoning Algaliarept, the demon whom she owes favours to out of the Ever After every evening, and he's determined to cause trouble for Rachel until she agrees to show up in demon court to testify on his behalf. Naturally, she doesn't want to do any such thing. She discovers that Ceri is pregnant and Trent wants to hire her to go with him to the Ever After to steal back an ancient elven genetic sample, so he can fix the elves' genetic code once and for all and make sure Ceri's baby is born healthy. Quen, Trent's security officer (and pretty much father figure) appears to be dying, and from the same thing that killed Rachel's dad. She stays by his bedside and pretty much forces him to remain alive, and discovers the truth about her father's death (and a fair few other choice truths) from a distraught and angry Trent.
Still mourning the death of Kisten, Rachel really isn't ready to move on. Marshal, the handsome scuba instructor she met in Mackinaw is moving to Cincinnati, but they are both adamant neither of them are looking for a relationship. As Al's harassment of Rachel and those close to her gets worse, she figures that swapping summoning names with him is the best way to stop him. Since she needs to get his DNA from the Ever After, she agrees to Trent's stupid mission, but as is so often the case, the mission really doesn't go according to plan, and Rachel needs to make new and fool-hardy bargains with the demons to save her own and Trent's skin. If the ruthless businessman was suspicious of her and her dealings with demons before, their mission only makes things worse.
Rachel's come a very long way since the impulsive and rather inexperienced witch in the first book. She keeps having to make difficult choices that frequently earn her the condemnation of the general public. While she keeps having to make deals with demons, and twist the occasional demon curse, she always tries to do the right thing and goes out of her way NOT to harm people. In this book, her rather complicated living situation with Ivy seems to resolve itself, and it becomes clear that they simply cannot ever share blood, as Rachel is too terrified of ever being bound by a vampire. Of course, Ivy seems to think that the fact that Rachel wants to keep living together, despite their never taking their relationship to the next level is the biggest compliment she could get. The two women finally seem to find a balance they are happy with.
Rachel's mother plays a more prominent role in this book, and it becomes clear why she wasn't always entirely stable after losing her husband. Rachel discovers some hard truths about her parents, and while she wishes she never went digging, she also forces herself to accept the new status quo, happy that it may help her mother get better.
I always like it when Trent is a major character in the stories, and while Rachel has stopped trying to get him arrested for his illegal bio-drugs, she still doesn't entirely trust him. To his credit, he quietly takes her anger when she believes him to be the father of Ceri's baby, and he's determined to do whatever he can, no matter how dangerous, to make sure they get the genetic sample that can ensure future elven babies are born healthy. While Rachel offers to go into the Ever After herself, he insists on coming with her, and nearly pays for his insistence with his freedom. Of course, even when Rachel and Trent initially seem to be working well together, something's going to come along and trip them up, making sure they stay antagonistic, because it's a lot more fun that way.
I remembered this as one of the best books in the series, and I don't think I was wrong. So much that has been set up in earlier books come to their natural culmination here, while there's a whole lot of set-up for the second half of the series as well. Having listened to all the other books in this series on audio, this I had to read in e-book form, as the narrator I was used to, Ms. Marguerite Gavin, clearly took some sort of break. I was NOT ready to hear these characters narrated by someone else.
Judging a book by its cover: Another cover where I'm assuming the cover model is supposed to be Rachel, once again wearing tight-fitting leather. Not sure why she appears to be holding a gun, since Rachel never uses firearms, only a splat gun with sleep charms, and as far as I can recall, it doesn't really look like a real gun. I will give Harrison this, her covers, cheesy as they are, are generally better than Ilona Andrews'.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.