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

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!




Review: ‘Dead Witch Walking’ by Kim Harrison (audio)

In preparation for the February 22, 2011 release of Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon, book #9 in her popular Hollows Series, I’m doing a re-listen of the entire series and I’ve just finished listening to book #1, Dead Witch Walking. The books are quick, fun reads and feature many colorful characters including the main protagonist, sassy witch Rachel Morgan and her new business partners, Ivy (a living vampire) and the ever snarky pixy, Jenks. Marguerite Gavin is the reader (of this book and most of the other Hollows books, though not all) and she’s quite good, despite a habit of tending to pause in the middle of a sentence now and again. Still, I enjoy her reading quite a lot and she’s great at giving each of the characters their own voice. I especially love listening to her read Jenks.

Synopsis of Book #1:

The underground population of witches, vampires, werewolves—creatures of dreams and nightmares—has lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But after a genetically engineered virus wipes out a large part of humanity, many of the “Inderlanders” reveal themselves, changing everything.

Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter with the Inderland Runner Services, is one of the best at apprehending supernatural lawbreakers throughout Cincinnati, but when it comes to following the rules, she falls desperately short. Determined to buck the system, she quits and takes off on the run with an I.S. contract on her head and is reluctantly forced to team up with Ivy, Inderland’s best runner . . . and a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shape-changing assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crime lord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death . . . not to mention her own roommate.


I found a less than stellar listener review on somewhat amusing when it said that women who read Harlequin books would enjoy this book but that he, a reader of Heinlein, certainly did not. I, for one, have never read a Harlequin romance and most likely never will and I enjoyed this book immensely. This listen was my second, after reading the actual book once and I still had a good time and got a lot of laughs out of the story.

Of course, as the series progresses, things get darker and there are many a tear-inducing scene but this first book was fro the most part, light-hearted and fun and definitely a quick and enjoyable listen/read. Also, despite other reader/listener reviews I’ve seen that criticize the main character, Rachel Morgan, I quite like her and find her self-doubt and occasional missteps endearing and believable. Also, to those who would criticize her internal dialogue when looking at a man, of course she checks out the guys! What single twenty-something -be they female or male- doesn’t check out members of the opposite sex and ponder the possibilities in their head? Criticism of this nature is silly, in my opinion; if I like a story, I like it. And I like this one. On to book #2!