This is book 10 in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows
series. You don’t want to start the series with this book, trust me. If you’re interested, go pick up Dead Witch Walking.
Don’t read this review, it will contain spoilers for earlier books in the series, it’s unavoidable.
You’d think Rachel Morgan’s life would be easier once she got her shunning rescinded and the Coven for Moral and Ethical standards off her back? Unfortunately, no. Rachel is currently registered as legally dead, and has no social security number, no bank account, no driver’s licence and is generally finding local bureaucracy less than helpful. On public record as a “good” demon, she wears a bracelet of charmed silver to cut herself off from her leyline powers, and thus also any ability to do demon magic. Yet someone out there is abducting witches, torturing and killing them, and making it look like a demon’s work. Rachel will be blamed if she can’t help the I.S and the FIB track down the real culprits.
The culprits in question seem to be part of a human hate group determined to rid the world of all supernatural races. They want to use demon magic to do this, and are trying to synthesise demon blood. If they were to get their hands on the newly power neutered Rachel, they’d be much closer to their goals. Despite the advice of her bodyguard (Rachel’s parents don’t really trust her to keep herself out of danger any longer), and her long time associates, Rachel puts herself right into the path of danger once again, and has to trust in her friends to get her out of trouble.
To say that Rachel has changed a lot since the first book of the series would be an understatement. She’s not even the same species as she was. Rachel’s naturally scared about the changes her life has taken, and her two closest friends, Ivy and Jenks, both seem to be moving on with their lives, leaving her feeling all the more lonely. She’s terrified of Al and the other demons discovering that she is still alive if she takes the bracelet off, yet clearly can’t function properly by cutting herself off from a major source of her own powers. After going on a road trip with, and sharing a very intimate moment with her former nemesis Trent, at the end of Pale Demon, she’s also forced to reevaluate her relationship with him. When pretty much all the world were willing to condemn her, he stood by her side, and he keeps offering to help her, even at the risk of his own life. As Rachel’s come to realise over the course of the books that there is very little black and white, and oh so many shades of grey, and that she herself is has to decide what is “good” and “evil” – Trent has had to make a lot of difficult decisions, and may not be a bad guy even though he’s done some fairly ruthless things in the past.
While I think Harrison is a horrible tease, it’s as of yet unclear if Trent is moving from becoming Rachel’s enemy and some time reluctant ally, to being her new love interest. Rachel certainly spends a LOT of time thinking about how silky his hair is for someone she doesn’t have any romantic feelings for. As a huge fan of Trent, I have no problem with more time being spent developing his character and friendship with Rachel, which is a large part of what happens in this book. The structure of the book is a bit meandering and the plot could probably be a lot tighter and more streamlined. But I read these books mainly to spend time with Rachel and all the other extremely colourful supernatural creatures of The Hollows, so I don’t really mind if the narrative takes a few detours, especially when I get Trent and Rachel spending more time together, bantering and facing off against common enemies. Al and the other demons barely get an appearance in this book, though. I hope that changes in the next one.