Tuesday, 11 April 2017

#CBR9 Book 31: "For a Few Demons More" by Kim Harrison

Page count: 532 pages
Audio book length: 17hrs 06 mins
Rating: 4.5 stars

This is book five in a series, and most definitely not the best place to start. Begin with Dead Witch Walking, and possibly skip this review if you don't want spoilers for earlier books in the series.

There are dead werewolf women turning up in the morgue, apparently having committed suicide. Someone else appears to be murdering werewolves after keeping them tied up, and after some investigation, independent runner and calamity-prone witch Rachel Morgan is pretty sure she knows what the connection between all the deaths is. During her last adventure, she retrieved an ancient and very powerful werewolf artifact, and she suspects someone may be killing people to figure out its whereabouts.

The artifact, valuable enough to spark a war among the supernaturals of Cincinnati, is currently hidden with her friend, lone wolf David Hue, but she's worried that he may be in danger if the wrong people connect the artifact back to her. In addition to this, Rachel's sometime nemesis, councilman and secret bio-druglord Trent Kalamack offers to pay her a truly staggering sum of money to work security at his wedding. Since the best man is going to be Lee Saladan, who both Rachel and Trent know is a demon's familiar, chances are high that something bad is going to go down during the ceremony and Trent still blames Rachel for Saladan becoming caught by the demon in the first place. Neither of them have any idea just how complicated Saladan's presence at the wedding would actually become.

Rachel knows Trent is marrying to form an alliance, as there really aren't all that many suitable elves around. She also knows he's working on a genetic cure to make it easier for elves to actually have children, and is starting to feel guilty about the fact that she's been keeping the existence of Ceri, an elf from the dark ages, and the demon Algaliarept's former familiar, hidden from Trent. A genetic sample from her could massively improve Trent's chances of helping the elven race survive.

In her personal life, Rachel is still figuring out whether she can ever let her roommate Ivy, a living vampire, bite her again, seeing as she nearly ended up dead the last time. At the same time, she is wondering about her future with Kisten, another living vamp. Because Ivy has feelings for Rachel, she won't accept anyone else taking her blood, and while Rachel is rather terrified of any vamp feeding on her, her feelings for Kisten are growing, and she wants a new level of intimacy with him. On top of everything else, Rachel is coming to see that both Ivy and Jenks are probably right about her being an adrenaline junkie, never quite happy unless she's near to risking her life, just to feel properly alive. She's about to see just how dangerous those impulses can get.

While the last book felt mostly like a chore to read, this book is back to being pretty much non-stop action. As in a lot of the books, there's a mystery sub-plot, in this case, who the unidentified dead were women in the morgue are, and the identity of the person abduction and killing fairly prominent werewolves to find the Focus that Rachel is hiding. It's been long enough since I  read this book that while I remembered the first part, and why the werewolf women ended up in the morgue in the first place, I'd completely forgotten who was responsible for the second part, and it's always good to have surprises, even on re-reads.

I did remember some of the twists and turns taken in this book, and most importantly, I knew what would happen in the last third, and did not look forward to re-living it. Without wanting to spoil too much, one particular plot development completely gutted me the first time I read this book and it wasn't until a year later, when the next book in the series came out (by the time I read this, I was caught up with a long wait between each one) that I began to even vaguely forgive Kim Harrison. I didn't cry this time, but I was still dreading having to read it.

Suffice to say, the very upsetting (at least to me) thing that happens late in the book is one of the many plot upheavals that continues to change the direction that Rachel's life is taking. Some really big things happen in this book, including a demon present at Trent's rehearsal dinner, Rachel being a very inappropriate bridesmaid, Trent and Ceri finally meeting, a very tense negotiation scene in a police conference room involving most of the major power players in Cincinnati and Rachel going to extreme lengths to keep those she loves safe, even going so far as to nearly sacrificing her life.

Knowing where the series has yet to go, I can read it without being too sad. It's a really good instalment of the series, and certain parts in the last third were a lot more enjoyable to me now that I wasn't quite so numb and heart-broken. Marguerite Gavin continues to be a really excellent narrator, and while her characters are normally very consistent, she seems to change Trent's voice from book to book. I also much prefer it when she has Al speaking with his crisp English accent, because that makes him seem so much more smugly evil, somehow.

Judging a book by its cover: My hardcover copy of this has the cover model in a shiny mini dress (probably meant to be leather again) walking across cobbles towards what appears to be the doors of a church, while holding a knife in one hand. The thigh-high leather boots are very Rachel, but I really don't know what scene this is supposed to be a callback to. The mass market paperback has the cover model in a black evening dress with a very high split up one leg and a very low back, also with the knife, which is if possible, even less like anything in the book. Rachel does wear a black bridesmaid's dress (even though Ellasbeth had picked a pea-green one), but she doesn't wield a knife while doing so. As always, paranormal/urban fantasy cover designs make me roll my eyes.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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