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Outlaw demons and witchy wonders,
This review is from: The Outlaw Demon Wails (The Hollows) (Hardcover)
Kim Harrison ended her last book with a shocking twist: the death of Kisten, Rachel Morgan's vampire boyfriend.
And the repercussions of that climactic twist are felt all over "The Outlaw Demon Wails," a glorious follow-up that continues twisting (or is it spindling?) the plot all over. Harrison weaves together a half dozen vital storues into an even more tightly-written, shocking novel -- where we get lots and lots of new revelations and answered questions.
Rachel and her mother are shopping for Halloween costumes and talismans when the demon Al appears, destroys the shop, and nearly kills Rachel. Somebody is summoning him out of demon prison, and setting him after Rachel -- and her personal patch of holy ground is getting a big cramped, due to an increasingly bloodlusting Ivy and Jenks' massive family moving in.
And as Rachel struggle to cope with these problems, she learns that Ceri is pregnant -- and to keep her baby and the elf race healthy, they need a sample of ancient elf tissue from the ever-after. Though Rachel initially refuses, she finds that this elf drama is somehow connected to the terrible secrets of her past -- and a journey to the ever-after might help her defeat Al. But it might also open a Pandora's box of secrets about Rachel's own future...
Rachel's parentage. Her father's horrible death. Her memory loss after Kistan's death. Her friendship with Ivy. The true nature of the witches, elves and demons. Not to mention her future love life.
Yes, all these plot threads get dealt with in an utterly satisfactory way. And unlike many of her urban fantasy contemporaries, Kim Harrison weaves them into a solid, thrilling plot with a good balance of characters, action and humour. And she can keep the storyline twisting right up to the end -- literally. She introduces two massive twists toward the end that have enormous repercussions for Rachel.
It must be admitted that the plot sags in the middle of the book, when Al and the elf problem seem to get derailed in favour of Rachel's love life/social life problems. But Harrison picks up the slack quickly, and she hasn't lost her knack for tightly written, wry descriptions ("Hence the general weirdness of elves eating hot dogs in my backyard") and snappy, entertainingly self-deprecating dialogue ("Fried eggs!").
And there's plenty of quirky situations that help lighten the rather dark mood -- such as a very apologetic gargoyle crashing into Rachel's church. Jenks and his equally troublesome family provide loads of comic relief as well -- gotta love them pixies.
And Harrison's feisty heroine goes through some painful growth, learns more about her family and her true nature, and has some old wounds reopened. In a sense, this is Rachel's "grief book" -- she spends a great deal of time thinking about the loss of her father and Kisten, and freaking out when she starts remembering how they died. Fortunately Harrison avoids letting her heroine become "emo" -- note the hilarious scene where she's ashamed to admit that she's perused a vampire sex book.
But as Rachel deals with her grief and love for Kisten, Harrison delicately introduces a potential love interest. She doesn't spin anything more than chemistry yet, but it's a person who could become something to her in future.
Other characters get fleshed out as well -- we get to see underneath Trent's coolly slimy exterior to some of his hidden feelings, Ivy's vampiric nature, and even Al gets some new dimensions. And even among the peripheral characters, Harrison's quirky sense of humour is present -- just consider the vampire-sex-manual-writing ex-Presidential vampire master.
Kim Harrison's "The Outlaw Demon Wails" has a slowdown in the middle, but revs up fast for a twisty-turny, revelation-filled finale. Urban fantasy as it ought to be.