There's no doubt about it. Harrison has done it again and raised the stakes ever higher with her latest and greatest Hallows book. It's hard to believe this is only book six; it feels like Rachel's character has been with us forever and she only gets more "real" as the series continues. As surely as Rachel twists curses to get herself out of yet another sore spot, Harrison is twisting readers into an absolute fit of excitement with her wicked way with words.
The Outlaw Demon Wails wastes no time and swings into the demon action with the very first chapter. With a trio of sneezes from Rachel, Al's back in crushed green velvet and as ready to wreak havoc as ever. It's October and as the Hallows and Cincinatti residents prepare for the week-long Halloween festivities, Rachel is once again fending off Al's rigorously murderous attentions. Someone is letting him lose from his ever-after jail cell and Rachel has to find out who has it in for her enough to do so. The list of possibilities is long, to say the least. And suddenly, not only is Rachel in danger, but everyone she loves and cares about are too. With guilt and heartache weighing heavily on her with Kisten's demise, not to mention more than one shocking family secret, Rachel is mentally and physically tired. And when a desperate witch just can't take anymore, she'll do anything to save those she loves.
I'd been hearing that at one time this was to be the end of the series, and therefore we'd be seeing a lot of the subplots wrapped up with this installment (even though Harrison's contract has now been extended--which hey, is awesome!). Frankly, I don't agree that that many of them were really wrapped up enough to truly put away. Rather, it read more as if a new chapter had opened in many of them and they'd become even bigger an issue than they were previously. For example, Rachel's lineage has always been of keen interest, what with her surviving a deadly childhood witch illness, one that kills many a witch in infancy. Within this particular subject we have two subplots that intertwine: what Trent's father really did to her in that Make-a-Wish camp and who exactly her father is, a man that had passed on some time ago, a character that we really didn't know much about till this installment. We get oodles `o info on both of these, yet it's such a huge impact that we'll certainly be feeling the effects of them and possibly more info in the books to come. Rachel and Ivy's blood lust marathon...what can I say but that they seem to come to an understanding, finally, of where each stands in this particular relationship. I was especially pleased with Ivy this time, as she finally seems to take a step back and really look at Rachel in regards to the blood lust. I felt she actually listened this time. I do not think it's over, as the new master vamp has made a rather bold claim, but for now, it's come to a much more pleasing, not to mention manageable, point. Ceri's role is as important as ever, and there is a bump of a twist where she and another important character are concerned that ties directly into the main plot of the book. Jenks, as per usual, gets some of the best lines and a very surprising yet wonderful surprise was Rachel's mother. Up till now, her role in this part of Rachel's life has been almost nil, but I have to say that, next to Rachel, she may well have become my second most favorite character. This was a turning point in the series, and that fact is demonstrated in the way Harrison delves back into past installments to bring a lot of info to light and reveal some rather shocking incidents, as well as by incorporating a line that I really didn't think Rachel would ever cross. The following installment will be interesting to say the least, as in a gut wrenching, adrenaline inducing thrill ride, as this one was in spades. There's no need to comment on Harrison's writing/plotting/character development skills other than she has it down solid. As always, I'm feening for the next book and don't know how I'll ever wait another year.