Sunday, 9 April 2017

#CBR9 Book 30: "A Fistful of Charms" by Kim Harrison

Page count: 528 pages
Audio book length: 17 hrs 06 mins
Rating: 3 stars

Spoiler warning! This is the fourth book in an ongoing series, and not the place to start reading. Dead Witch Walking is where you want to begin. Also, there will be plot spoilers in this review, so if you want to avoid that sort of thing, don't read beyond the next four paragraphs.

Rachel Morgan, witch for hire, discovers that her ex-boyfriend Nick Sparagmos wasn't just a part-time librarian with a knack for demon summoning, but in fact a thief, specialising in supernatural objects. Now Nick is in trouble, and her business partner, Jenks the pixy, is ready to risk his life to travel to Michigan to find him, because Nick took Jenks' eldest son, Jax, with him as a backup. With the weather being much colder in Mackinac than in Cincinnati, Jenks would very likely freeze to death.

While she is now dating Kisten, a living vampire (and her roommate Ivy's ex) and considers herself thoroughly over Nick (especially after discovering that he was lying to her about his actual profession while they were together), he did save her life once and she certainly can't risk Jenks killing himself to retrieve his son. She discovers a ritual in one of her spell books that could turn Jenks big, allowing him to safely travel, and another one to allow her to turn into a werewolf (a necessity since a hostile werewolf pack currently has Nick as their captive). These spells are demon curses, forcing her to pay for the imbalance of what she's doing by tainting her aura, and forcing her to once again reevaluate whether using demon magic, when not actually harming anyone or anything, makes you a worse person.

Rachel and Jenks borrow Kisten's large van and travel to Mackinac, where they locate Jax and figure out how to get onto the werewolf-inhabited island to rescue Nick. He's being tortured because he stole an ancient, incredibly valuable artifact that could shift the power balance among the supernatural species, and he's refusing to reveal where he hid it. Rachel uses her spell/curse to successfully were into a red wolf and fights the alpha female of the leading pack, defeating her partially through luck and sneakiness. While the various packs try to deal with the upset, Jenks rescues Nick and they escape. Because it's quite clear that the aggressive werewolf packs aren't going to stop until they get hold of the artifact, and quite possibly Nick as well, they decide that they have to stage an accident, where both Nick and the artifact go off the Mackinac bridge, never to be seen again.

I haven't actually re-read a lot of the books in the later half of The Hollows series, but even without doing so, I'm pretty convinced this will remain my least favourite book in the series. There are some good things in the book, like Jenks being big (apparently he is unbelievably hot, something both Rachel and Ivy comment on with slightly alarming frequency). They go to a new location, so there's a change of scene from the usual Cincinnati. Yeah, that's pretty much all the good stuff I can think of.

This is the book where it very much becomes clear what a snivelling little weasel Nick actually is and he's a character I never had much time for, in the first place. Rachel keeps trying to defend his actions and treatment of her for much longer than is sensible, and it's only when she discovers that throughout their entire relationship, he wasn't just a thief, but he kept selling details about her and her life to demons for favours and increased magical ability. Ivy and Jenks were clearly never particularly fooled by Nick, even before they knew the full truth, but it's nice to see all of them being extremely wary of him (while also sympathetic about the wounds he got when tortured) and deeply sceptical of his motives, even when he claims to be going along with their plan.

The situation between Rachel and Ivy also comes to a head, where Rachel suddenly, after three books of resisting her and being incredibly leery about the whole idea of blood, without any warning pretty much forces Ivy to bite her, and pushes her triggers until she loses control and nearly kills Rachel in the process. Ivy only ever takes blood from someone she loves, but Rachel is adamant that she has no pants feelings for her roommate, leaving only mindless bloodlust and a near-death experience for Rachel. She later claims that she wants to do it again and find a blood-balance with Ivy, but the living vampire is obviously terrified and guilt-stricken after the incident.

This book just has a lot of things I don't like, Nick, Rachel being an idiot when trying to negotiate her relationship with Ivy, a really convoluted faking an accidental death scenario, and hardly any of the things I do like, Trent, Kisten, Al the demon. Considering what I know is coming in the next book, I can't blame Harrison for wanting to take a break from these things, but on this, my third re-read, I'm pretty confident that it's a book I'll never much like and I'm glad I'm done with it.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover model on this book appears to be wearing a long-sleeved mini-dress made entirely out of leather, which seems unbearably hot (not in a sexy way) to me, and just the thought of the clammy skin you'd get from it makes me slightly twitchy. I can see the benefits of leather trousers or a cool jacket, possibly even some sort of halter-top, but a long-sleeved dress? Nope. It also doesn't really match anything Rachel is described as wearing at any point in the book, although I'm assuming the landscape wreathed in mist in the background is supposed to be the werewolf island part of the story takes place at.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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