BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #35: Pale Demon (The Hollows, Book 9) by Kim Harrison
This is the 9th book in a series about Rachel Mariana Morgan, a witch/maybe demon from Cincinnati. Rachel lives in an old church with a living vampire named Ivy, a pixie named Jenks and a young gargoyle named Bix, and tries to make a living as a kind of private investigator. Unfortunately for her, she has some unusual talents leading to lots of interaction with demons, a fact which greatly upsets the witches coven.
This is not the sort of series you can jump in mid-stream and still enjoy. Each book picks up where the previous one leaves off, and in fact, I often find myself going back to previous book to check on when or how certain things occurred. Having said that, if you enjoy the paranormal, this is a good series that isn’t all about weirder and wilder sex with as many semi-humanids as possible (I’m looking at you, Lauren Hamilton). The Hollows series is more focused on character growth and adventure stories. In this alternate reality, a lab-made virus transported by tomatoes has wiped out much of humanity, leaving witches, demons, werewolves, fairies, pixies, vampires, etc. untouched and now a large enough minority to not have to stay secret. See my earlier review of Book 8 in the series, BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #01: Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
In Pale Demon, Rachel needs to get to San Francisco to stand trial at the Witch Convention and try to get her shunning lifted, but will have some trouble getting there as she’s been blacklisted so can’t take a plane. Her childhood nemesis/maybe friend/oh come on, they’re-destined-to-be-lovers Trent the elf needs to get to Seattle but has to go by land and needs protection from elven assassins. They band together, along with Ivy and Jenks and head West. Along the way, a day walking demon (demons normally disappear as soon as the sun comes up) is released from centuries of imprisonment, causing major havoc which Rachel has to deal with. Demon society is exposed some more, as well as witch society, and the group has to try to save Rachel and the world.
There were some points that I’m not sure whether the author put in as foreshadowing or to tie up in the next book which wound up being jarring. For instance, during the road trip, Rachel keeps noticing that someone is buying a certain type of candy and wonders about it. That really struck me as odd – with that many people in a car, especially people she doesn’t know well, why would candy be strange? And it wasn’t really resolved. Also, all of a sudden Trent has major elven powers. He never has before. Why now? If he had them before, half the previous books wouldn’t have happened. From a continuity perspective, it was dirty pool. Lastly, Ivy has this big scene where she talks about how she has to leave Rachel for the good of both of them. It struck me as totally fake, unnecessary, and at the end of the book, there they were back at home with no further mention of it. It seemed almost like the author had planned the story to go in one direction, then changed her mind and forgotten to go back and edit to match. It definitely showed the need for good editing more than her previous books did.
But, it was enjoyable, wrapped up an exciting story enough so that Rachel is allowed to breathe a bit until the next one, and raised some interesting moral questions about good and bad.