Review: ‘A Fistful of Charms’ by Kim Harrison (audio)

In my ongoing re-read of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, I’ve just finished book #4, A Fistful of Charms. As mentioned in previous posts, beware of spoilers if you haven’t read this book/series. Consider yourself warned.

 

Here’s what Audible.com has to say about the book:

The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty-hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her – not necessarily in that order.

Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses – savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.

Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in millennia to ravage and to rule. Suddenly, more than Rachel’s soul is at stake.

 

Be prepared for those aforementioned spoilers!

Despite enjoying much about this book, there were parts of it that I really didn’t care for. I loved Jenks being big. Really, really loved it! With that side plot alone, Harrison explored a wealth of ‘new’ material as Jenks learned to navigate this unfamiliar, smaller world. Every situation was a new experience for him and he went from not liking being big to stating near the end of the book that “Being big is good!”

Rachel was bad-assery incarnate in this book with her newfound skills at cooking up ‘charms’. She has to defend her alpha status as part of David’s pack, wrestle with her conscious over the means she uses to obtain a desired end and, oh yes… rescue Jenks’ son Jax and her ex-boyfriend, Nick. She and Jenks travel to northern Michigan to find Jax and Nick and land in a heap of trouble with some were packs. The run was full of action and adventure and was classic Rachel fun.

I have to say though, that I really didn’t enjoy the events that transpired once Ivy arrived. I do like Ivy… I feel for her character and I think she’s got some great lines but I didn’t care much for her in this book and I really didn’t like the change in her relationship with Rachel. Still, the book had enough ‘charm’ to keep me listening and indeed, I flew through this one.

Also, am I a sucker for feeling kind of sorry for Nick throughout most of this book? His raw grief when recalling how he thought Rachel was dead after the boat explosion in book #3 was touching, in my opinion. And while he proved to be a right ass by the end of the book, I still had a soft spot for him though I by no means was rooting for him where Rachel was concerned.

Despite missing Trent and yes, Al… I enjoyed this quick listen and look forward to the next installment! Next up: Book #5, For A Few Demons More.

Review: ‘Every Which Way But Dead’ by Kim Harrison (audio)

Beware spoilers. I try to keep major ones from slipping, but it’s difficult to talk about the story in a series such as this as it gets more involved and the plot deepens without letting a few tidbits slip. Consider yourself warned. ;o)

Book #3 of Kim Harrison’s best-selling Hollows series is Every Which Way But Dead and it takes place a mere three months after the end of Book #2, The Good, The Bad and The Undead. It’s winter in Cincinnati and the story starts off with a bang as Rachel stands in the snowy graveyard behind her and Ivy’s church, preparing to finagle her way out of the deal that the demon Algaliarept thinks she made with him.

The teaser from Audible.com:

Some days, you just can’t win. Witch and former bounty hunter Rachel Morgan has managed to escape her corrupt company, survive living with a vampire, start her own runner service, and face down a vampire master.

But her vampire roommate, Ivy, is off the wagon; her human boyfriend Nick is out of town indefinitely and doesn’t sound like he’s coming back, while the far-too-seductive vampire Kisten is looking way too tempting; and there’s a turf war erupting in Cincinnati’s underworld.

And there’s a greater evil still. To put the vampire master behind bars and save her family, Rachel made a desperate bargain. Now there’s hell to pay: literally. For if Rachel cannot stop him, the archdemon Algaliarept will pull her into the sorcerous ever-after to forfeit her soul as his slave. Forever.

I first listened to this series in its entirety before the release of Black Magic Sanction, about a year ago. Time has since blurred the events of each book into one long story in my mind. Thinking back on the whole story, I sometimes have difficulty determining which events had taken place in which book and listening to this book made me recall that it is one of my favorites. Despite my sad at the state of Rachel and Nick’s relationship as the story begins, I absolutely thrilled at the many adrenaline-fueled events of this book from Rachel’s date with Kisten to her plunge in the river with Trent.

We meet so many new characters in this book, it’s amazing. There’s Ceri, Al’s former familiar who has a great deal in common with Trent Kalamack and his crew; David Hue, the werewolf insurance adjuster; Ivy’s sister and father as well as Skimmer, her former roommate and lover; Stanley Saladan, yet another crime lord type who happens to be a former friend of Trent and has some very interesting traits, as does Rachel; Takata, the quirky yet wildly popular Inderlander musician; Ellasbeth, Trent’s snotty fiance; and finally, as though there aren’t enough bat-shit crazy people that Rachel has to worry about, an insane female demon, Newt.

All in all, that’s a whole bucketful of new faces, or in the case of the audio book, new voices to get to know which spices the story up a bit. Not that this story needed spicing, what with the ley line magic stuff, the demon magic stuff, the crime lord rivalry, a regrettable estrangement and a revelation about Rachel’s father, not to mention the emotional conflict that Rachel experiences with Nick and then Kisten… and dare I say, Trent? Oh, did I forget to mention the ooh-la-la, oh-so-racy scene that Marguerite Gavin reads so fantastically? Whew, there’s a good scene to rewind and listen to a few times!

Fast-paced and captivating, this third installment of the series is worth many an hour of fun, action-packed excitement and at this point in my re-listen, it’s my favorite. The main characters are developing immensely at this point and while the major plot point is wrapped up for the time as the book ends, there are continuing plot threads that will make you want to snatch the next book right off the shelf and begin reading it as soon as you close this book. So make sure you have it on hand, I know I do!

Review: ‘The Good, The Bad and The Undead’ by Kim Harrison (audio)

Last night I finished listening to Book #2 of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, The Good, The Bad and the Undead. This second installment of Rachel Morgan’s story finds Rachel again trying to nail Trent Kalamack, wealthy businessman and respected councilman. This time, it’s bigger than running drugs. This time, it’s for murder.

Run-down of the book from Audible.com:

Former bounty hunter Rachel Morgan has it pretty good. She has left the corrupt Inderland Runner Service and started her own independent service. She’s survived werewolves, shape-changing demons, bad-hair days, and sharing a church with her vampire roommate, Ivy. She even has a cute (if human) boyfriend – what more could a witch want?

But living with a reformed vampire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when your roommate’s very bad ex-boyfriend wants her back and wouldn’t mind you in the process. And especially when he’s six feet of sheer supernatural seduction and you’ve got a demon mark that makes vampires literally hotter than hell.

To save herself and Ivy, Rachel must confront the vampire master – and the dark secrets she’s hidden even from herself.

I don’t know that this synopsis is very accurate (e.g., “demon mark” rather than “demon scar” making vamps “hotter than hell”) but it does touch on some of the highlights, including the whole master vampire confrontation (even though he’s not the “six feet of sheer supernatural seduction!” mentioned in Audible’s synopsis) and Rachel’s “dark secrets”. I enjoyed the glimpse of Rachel’s past, meeting her mom and learning about her forgotten connection to a certain character which, to keep this¬† relatively spoiler-free, makes their interactions very entertaining. These first books contain a lot of foreshadowing of the events in later books and this being my second time listening to the series, I’m enjoying those little hints quite a lot.

This second installment of the series also lets us get to know several of the secondary characters that we’ll come to see quite a lot as the series progresses. Nick Sparagmos, who helped Rachel escape from the rat fights in book #1, the aforementioned Trenton Kalamack, Detective Glenn of the FIB and Algaliarept, the demon who ‘saved’ Rachel after he attacked her in Dead Witch Walking and left her a demon mark for the favor.

Kim Harrison is great at writing characters that the reader both likes and despises at the same time. There are times that I hate one or another of the characters in these books yet I still like them, or vice versa.¬† For instance, Ivy has never been one of my favorites in the series but one of her scenes in this book moved me to tears. Also, Algaliarept is a demon. He enjoys killing people, or stealing their souls, and did I mention he’s a demon? He should be hated, feared even. Sure, okay. But he really makes me laugh! I know the writing must be good when something/someone you should absolutely loathe, leaves you chuckling instead of recoiling in horror.

While the writing is that good, I know that part of the reason I appreciate some of the more deplorable characters so much is the narration, which is again done by Marguerite Gavin. Despite the continued quirkiness of her reading, as I mentioned in my review of book #1, I love the voices she gives to each character. With the exception of book 6 which is narrated by a different reader, the life that’s added to the story by the narration is why I’d much rather listen to this series than read it.

I love to see Rachel exploring her talent, even though it might mean crossing a line she had previously set for herself. She’s starting to find that sometimes it’s okay to do something ‘bad’ if it’s for a good reason and while she’s still conflicted, I feel that is shows some maturity on her part. Back to my iPod and the next audio book. Might I add that the further I get in my re-listen of this series, the more excited I become for next month’s release of Pale Demon!