by Jesus Ibarra
Details on how to win a copy of the previous book in this series, Ever After, at the end of this review.
Rachel Morgan returns in the addictively soon to be ending Hollows series by Kim Harrison. Yes folks this is the penultimate book in the Hollows series with the grand finale coming in book thirteen, which hopefully comes next year. The Undead Pool definitely feels this impending end, because a lot of stuff happens in this book that moves a lot of pieces in this universe.
After saving the Ever After from collapsing in the last book, Rachel Cinici’s favorite day walking demon is “slumming it” as Trent’s bodyguard, when magic all over the city starts misfiring causing mayhem and panic. Adding to the stress is the fact that the undead vampires who control the vampires are asleep and will not wake up. Rachel, on top of figuring out what is causing the misfiring of magic, must somehow figure out how to save the fragile truce between the supernatural before a war breaks out, threatening to destroy the relationship between humans and Interlanders. Whew! For so much going on this book, things moved incredibly smoothly and we got so much mythology, which makes this crazy universe extra crazy.
I love that Rachel continues to grow with each book and this one is no different. Before the last entry, Rachel had a love-hate relationship with her identity as a demon, but after saving the Ever After she has embraced who and what she is so incredibly that it was such a treat watching her flex her power against the obstacles she faced. This aspect of her also serves to highlight the various power dynamics between the supernatural that Kim Harrison has been building for eleven books, and the concept that it could all come tumbling down was intriguing.
I’ll be honest–I really wished an all out war had broken out, if only to see how Rachel and her family of ragtag allies would respond. Of course, in exploring these complex relationships, we get so much more information on the elves and the wild magic they wield. I have to say I really love Kim Harrison’s treatment of elves and their history with their demons on which we get more interesting information. Another intriguing plot point was the introduction of the Eleven Goddess, as a character who has been hinted as existing in other books. I won’t go into more details to avoid spoilers suffice it to say she plays a pivotal role in the book and has a profound impact on Rachel.
I am also sad, but very intrigued, at where demon Al and Rachel’s relationship is left at the end of the novel, especially in light of some of Al’s history as Newt. Speaking of Newt, I loved that she got more time in this novel and we start to see why she is dangerous and actually grow a sister-like bond with Rachel, which I can’t wait to see play out in the next novel.
The final thing I liked, which is going behind a mild spoiler warning, so scroll down if you don’t want to know.
Ok, if you are still there, Rachel finally hooks up with Trent. Although it is written in such a believable way, this definitely felt a little rushed. I think that’s just because with the series ending in the next book, Kim Harrison had to get these two together now or it was never going to happen. My only quibble, which really is a personal thing, is that for all the build up in the last three books–and Rachel constantly fantasizing about Trent–the actual deed was pretty tame. However, this may just be my warped view of all the smutty urban fantasy books I read!
Now, onto my few complaints of the novel. The mystery of who is behind the plot of the book is so painfully obvious that it lacks any real satisfaction when the main characters uncover it. Again we see another group that hasn’t been mentioned in other books, at least that I noticed, be part of the driving mystery. These are really bad things, but they just seem like lazy writing sometimes.
Finally I really, really wish Rachel would just murder some of the main bad guys, because I am getting tired of other people doing it for her. It isn’t even acknowledged that Rachel essentially has a group of people willing to kill for her. It’s not that I need her to kill someone, because I like main characters to kill, but I feel that an acknowledgement of the former or her committing murder when she had no choice to save herself or friends would have been good. I mostly want this to happen because I think it would be some amazing character stuff for Rachel to go through, but sadly with the next book being the end of the series I don’t see it happening.
Aside from those very small complaints, this was a very satisfying read for long term fans of the series that sets up the stage for a finale, that is sure to be sad yet awesome, because after book thirteen, we will no longer get to accompany Rachel on her wild crazy rides.
The Undead Pool will be released on February 25.
To enter to win a copy of Ever After, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “After,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 22, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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