Book: Pale Demon
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Rating: 5 Electrifying Stars!!!!
Enter the world of the Hollows
At the end of Black Magic Sanction we were left with a quite a few loose ends. Rachel began her studies as Al’s student in the Ever-After, got possessed by insane demon Krathion, was imprisoned in Alcatraz, bumped hips with Gordian Pierce, got screwed over again by Nick and the laundry list goes on. As she continues to weather her shunning, it appears that the Coven of Moral and Ethical Standards is not simply going to let her stand in that magical state of limbo. They have deemed her dangerous enough to either lobotomize or sterilize. Anything to ensure that she or any future children will never be able to kindle magic again-certainly not black magic.
If anything, the single most important point of conflict for the Hollows series is that Rachel Morgan has existed in flux-treading, no…teetering on the line between acceptable magic use, and black magic. This has been simply because the chaotic circumstances in which she has been thrust-defending herself by any means necessary. Is she a white witch who twists black curses? Is she a natural born demon? Did she really think she was going to ride the fence for this long, and not choose a side?
In Pale Demon, Kim Harrison successfully brings that central theme of choice to the fore and forges new ground in old conflicts (including one new ley line). This time Harrison has really spelled the plot, putting it all out on the table that things are going to have to change. With Rachel’s potential in mind, Ceri’s baby on the way, and Trent’s “secret”…a new generation is going to arise regardless. Will their arrival precipitate a new chapter in the Demon/Elf wars…or will bridges be built? Will Inderlanders be caught in the maelstrom? What about the constant ebb and flow of Ever-After receding from Reality and vice versa? Sides are plotting and planning and where will Rachel stand? On a chosen side, or in the way? Will the minds of the Coven and Inderlanders regarding defensive black magic be changed in time for the coming storm?
These conflicts all come to head as Rachel is forced to attend her hearing and trial by peers by the Coven of Moral and Ethical Standard in San Francisco. Unfortunately since her recent shunning, her movement is pretty much restricted and instead of flying she has to drive to the trial location. Accompanied by Trent Kalamack (who has to make it to Seattle in three days), Ivy, and Jenks, make this latest adventure an unholy road trip from hell. They are plagued by assassins, Jenks being kidnapped, the betrayal of Gordian Pierce, death by fairy, the St. Louis arch crumbling, and the release of the Ever-After’s most uncontrollable demon, Ku’ Sox.
If you don’t think things are going to get worse, then think again. Trent manages to curse Rachel to the Ever-After for all eternity…unless she is summoned. And lovely Ku’Sox manages to level half of San Francisco in her absence. It is going to take her nearly dying before defeating him.
The biggest possibility (and surprise) that exists for Rachel is the Ever-After-It’s one that readers should be focusing on-because if anything ever goes wrong in Cincy, or anywhere else on the sunny side of the lines…then she could…quite possibly build a life for herself there. With Newt lucid for once, there is a possibility of her remembering the secrets that the demons have had buried for the past two millennia. Her relationship with Al has taken a turn for the better, now that he realizes she is so much more than a familiar and student. Her worth has been fully realized, and the trust between them continues to grow. And she has finally accepted that she is a demon. If that stunt in Dalliance were not a clear indication of that, then I don’t know what is.
And cannily enough, Harrison has highlighted Rachel’s impending choices in neon. Will she stay in Cincy living with the derision of Inderlanders, her public shunning (which could get revoked), and her banishment? Or will she chose the demons…who accepted her unequivocally? And what about Trent when he reveals just a few of his motives? Never has there been such calculation on the part of one of Harrison’s characters…(besides Ivy)…and some of it has been to motivate Rachel to some unknown end. Trent might have actually given her what no one else has…a clear choice to fully accept who she is and ride with it. And he might have planned it all along.
I love, love, that Harrison manages yet again, to elevate the conflicts, and the entanglements surpassing her earlier efforts. She manages to show us something new every time, wrapped in resolution, illuminating numerous possibilities that keep you guessing, and always foreshadowing a possible future in the next book. Pale Demon hummed and arced with all the electricity and fire of the ley line of Fountain Square, was unputdownable, and provided a thrill ride that is uniquely Kim Harrison. It was everything….and I mean everything I was hoping for in the next installment of the Hollows.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)