(Dead Witch Walking, The Good the Bad and the Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fist Full of Charms, For A Few Demons More, The Outlaw Demon Wails, White Witch Black Curse, Black Magic Sanction, Pale Demon)
The Hollows leave you feeling anything but. An action packed Urban Fantasy series by Kim Harrison that has you going from unsure to completely hooked in 1.2 books. This series allows us to get addicted to numerous characters, who despite being witches, demons, elves, vampires and the like, are the most realistic characters in a paranormal series I’ve read to date. It’s the complexities of their personalities, their flaws, their issues, their relationships that make them seem like real people. They bond and have each other’s backs and become a family. After reading all nine books back to back, I’m so attached to these characters I don’t know what to do with myself now. And lead heroine Rachel Morgan may have just won the title for my favorite kick-ass chick yet! (Or at least a close 2nd to Jeaniene Frost’s Cat Crawford.)
The Hollows is a nine book series (so far) set in Cincinnati in a world where “Inderlanders” (paranormal/fairytale creatures) openly exist side by side with humans. The back-story of ‘the turn’ (forty years ago a virus in genetically enhanced tomatoes killed off a large chunk of the human population, allowing the paranormal population to dominate and so they stopped pretending and ‘came out of the closet’ as a collective.) So cut to modern day and it’s not that unusual to see a witch, a vampire, and a human sitting together in a coffee shop. I like this explanation; it could happen, right? However, what I wasn’t ready for was the introduction of leprechauns, fairies, pixies and gargoyles. I don’t know why, but it took me a while to wrap my head around that (werewolves, vampires and demons totally believable, sure, but leprechauns – that’s ridiculous!). And yes sarcasm is my best friend.
The story centers on witch Rachel Morgan, her vampire roommate Ivy, and their pixie partner Jenks who go into a bounty hunter/security business together. Rachel quits her job as a ‘runner’ (bounty hunter) with the I.S. (Inderland Security – like the police for the paranormal types) to go out on her own, dragging sidekick Jenks and I.S. Prodigy Ivy along with her. And thus starts death threat #1 on Rachel’s head, which will be the first of many, as Rachel is continually in the center of trouble. At first I wasn’t sure I completely liked Rachel. I couldn’t tell yet if she was smart enough, tough enough, and hot enough for me to want to relate to. She was going through such a rough clumsy time keeping herself alive and fumbling along as she sets up a home and business, getting her shit together. But the underdog appeal does make you want to cheer her on and through each experience both Rachel and her magic get stronger. And I saw the potential for some exciting storylines coming up, possibly with the sexy but irritating vamp Kisten, her nemesis Trent Kalamack or the surprising human Nick. I think the reasons it took me awhile to respect Rachel, are probably the same reasons I now feel she was a more realistic and relatable heroine. She wasn’t perfect.
I apologize ahead of time to Author Kim Harrison, but it took me awhile to get into book 1: Dead Witch Walking. I had no expectations going in, but I honestly almost gave up after chapter one rolling my eyes, thinking it was silly, but I had already bought most of the series and decided to keep with it. SO GLAD I DID! I am telling you; if anyone out there doubts they will get into this book, please keep reading. You will thank me later. And one of my favorite things about books 2-9 is that they flow from one to the next and immediately start into the action.
I have to mention Jenks, the pixy sidekick. He is the most hilarious, most loveable character of the series. A four-inch tall man with wings, I picture looking like Brad Pitt, that trails different colored pixie dust depending on his mood, lives in a garden with his wife and fifty-four kids (or is it forty-five?), and can disable any security system made. Quite often he is the cautious brain of the operation and yet has the funniest lines, repeatedly using Disney’s famous Tinkerbell as a swear word – “Tink’s pink panties!” And in book 4: A Fist Full of Charms, when Rachel uses a spell to temporarily turn Jenks to full human height, we, and every girl he passes, want even more of him (oh yeah, he’s married remember, darn it). Jenks is smart, protective and loyal to the bone. When the details of a Pixy’s short life span come up I vow to all that is holy that the moment they kill off Jenks is the moment I’ll put the book down forever.
Ivy is the most complicated character with her constant battle of ‘to be a blood sucking vampire or not to be’, not to mention the very erotic way she looks, moves and wants Rachel for more than just a friend. Ivy has issues with seperating blood-sharing and sex. The problem is, Rachel is straight. Not to mention her independent spirit refuses to become a mindless blood-source or scion. And so let the ‘will they won’t they’ tension begin and drop all preconceived ideas of bi-sexuality, because you may just surprise yourself.
Trent Kalamack…oh Trent…what to do about you? Throughout the series you will continually go back and forth between loving and hating this man. On the outside, a handsome, rich, City Councilman on the right side of the law. On the inside he’s a selfish, ruthless drug lord, genius illegal bio-drug manufacturer, (SPOILER ALERT) and secretive Elf. Trent and Rachel constantly go the rounds: enemies, friends, frenemies. Just when you start thinking he might actually be a good guy who does bad things for honorable reasons, then BAM! He does something detestable making you hate him all over again. And that is exactly how Rachel feels, always trying to bust this nemesis and bring his crimes to light, but at the same time quietly appreciating the entrancing sound of his silky voice and soft fair hair. Oh fear not though, she’s not a feeble minded woman crushing on the power man. Oh no, it is only the fire of fury Rachel holds for Trent, as they continue to work against each other, and sometimes with each other, aiming for, and then building trust with…you just never know what direction their interactions will go.
To really add danger to the mix, add one cruel, conniving, wise-ass Old English dressed Demon name Algaliarept (Al for short). Al is one of the main characters throughout the series and a constant thorn in Rachel’s side. Trying to kill her, popping in uninvited, ruining her reputation as a white witch, trying to steal her into the demon world, adding black smut to her golden aura…always bringing the blow up a book store kind of action and the smart-ass remarks. I actually started liking this sneaky demon by about book 6. And if there is going to be a book 10, I can’t wait to find out what happens next with this character.
Now, as a reader, I love me some sexy time in every book. Do the Hollows go adult romance? Not so much. Does it disappoint me? Only a smidgen. Although love scenes are few and far between, building flirtations, sexual tension and close calls keep it hot and interesting. The few sex scenes in the series are more of a PG-13 nature with a special witch spin. But the language and jokes are adult and very much appreciated. The author does not skip over sex completely like the Twilight Series, but does not use those cheesy Harlequin terms that make you blush either. Tastefully done and still hot enough to get your blood flowing but tame enough to make you wish for more. SPOILER ALERT! Even steamy enough to make me fantasize about riding in an elevator with one hot leather-clad vamp named Kisten.
So who is Rachel’s main love interest? It’s always a guessing game. Could it be Denon? Trent? Ivy? Nick? Kisten? Marshall? Glenn? David? Quen? Brett? Algaliarept? Minias? Pierce? So many possibilities. In so many paranormal series I’ve read, the characters find their one fated soul mate and end up together forever. Well this is what makes this Urban Fantasy seem more realistic: Rachel is not innocent, she’s unsure about love, she’s ok with Mr. Alright for Now, sometimes she gets her heart broken, sometimes she does the breaking, and there is no one-and-only doting to save her. She takes care of herself and usually saves the city, or at least her friends on a weekly basis, never getting credit for it however, which is the frustrating part. But with no species (or gender) off limits, you never know what might happen. Maybe it’s just that Rachel is so sexy and bad-ass they all fall for her a little, or maybe it’s only mutual respect and kinship. You’ll have to read to find out.