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Book Review: American Demon by Kim Harrison

American Demon by Kim Harrison [June 6, 2020]

Title: American Demon

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: Return to the Hollows #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: What happens after you’ve saved the world? Well, if you’re Rachel Mariana Morgan, witch-born demon, you quickly discover that something might have gone just a little bit wrong. That the very same acts you and your friends took to forge new powers may have released something bound by the old. With a rash of zombies, some strange new murders, and an exceedingly mysterious new demon in town, it will take everything Rachel has to counter this new threat to the world–and it may demand the sacrifice of what she holds most dear. -Goodreads

The Review:

If you can just mentally delete the epilogue that ended the series at book #13, American Demon is a fantastic continuation to the Hollows series.

I kind of like that American Demon is an (initially) unplanned continuation because otherwise the series might have felt too drawn out. Now it’s moving forward with a fresh intention, and that’s exciting. The book dealt with the aftermath of the crazy things that went down in the first series, and it truly felt like a new beginning in this world. Harrison did an excellent job expanding the playing field by adding a bunch of new characters, and the demon Hodin became an instant favorite (I love characters with duality). But the best part is that this new installment is still filled with the characters we’ve built connections with over the first 13 books, so it already has that developed depth that makes longtime fans like me fawn over every page.

I was enjoying the story for all the things listed above, but what really set this book apart as a strong addition to the series was the inclusion of a lot of complicated spellwork. It was awesome! I remember Rachel spelling in previous books, but I don’t recall it ever being quite this involved. She was trying to develop a new spell, and I found every stage of the process absolutely fascinating. I hope this leveled-up component continues in the next book.

The Hollows is one of my top urban fantasy series. It’s not my overall favorite, precisely, but it is responsible for a couple of my single favorite scenes across any genre. Harrison really knows how to build momentum, and she has truly dazzled me with some of her most epic moments. But that gradual momentum that always leads to amazing payoffs takes time to develop. And so, as we’re just beginning another story arc in American Demon, the pacing is rather casual throughout most of the story. Which is just fine, because when a series touches you like this one has me, even the slower parts have a lot of merit. It was a great way to ease back into the world.

Recommendations: this is a must-read for fans of the series – the story quality continues as strong as ever. With that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend new readers diving in without first reading the main Hollows series. Also, Harrison published a really good prequel novel (The Turn) that she referenced often in American Demon, so if you haven’t had a chance to read that one yet, I think it added a lot to the experience.

I want to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Kim Harrison, and Netgalley for allowing me access to an early copy of American Demon – you made my year! 

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Turn by Kim Harrison

the-turnTitle: The Turn

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #0.1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release Date: February 7, 2017

The Overview: Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before! Can science save us when all else fails? Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction. Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them. -Goodreads

The Review:

For all of you Rachel Morgan fans wondering if The Turn is worth picking up, the answer is an emphatic YES!!! Even though the story takes place at least 50 years before Dead Witch Walking, it still managed to bring all the magic that made The Hollows series so great. Trisk was an amazing main character, comparable to Rachel, herself. In fact, all of the characters in this prequel were great – don’t be surprised to see a few familiar faces along the way (after all, we are dealing with a few of the more long-lived supernatural.) It was that infusion of old and new that made The Turn seem so special. It brought me back to when we first met these characters, and I now appreciate more than ever their individual growth arcs throughout the series and marvel at how far they’ve come. Notice I haven’t mentioned specifics? The surprise is half the fun! Although I’m sure you already have some theories…

I’m so glad Harrison decided to tell this story. Dead Witch Walking felt a little like jumping aboard a series already in progress, so it’s nice to see what came before, and I’d wager she’s been hoarding tons of notes for this backstory ever since that first book. It’s such a compelling segment of this world’s history. The basic premise is telling the tale of “The Turn” where a tomato-hopping virus kills off most of humanity and, as a result, the supernatural community comes out of hiding. It set the framework for The Hollows series and I was super impressed at how many other creative ways Harrison found to tie the entire thing together. It was masterfully done, loads of fun, and everything a Hollows fan could hope for. I loved every moment!

After finishing The Turn, I feel confident that there will be more to come in this prequel saga. I, for one, cannot wait!

If you haven’t read The Hollows series, you’ll still enjoy The Turn, but that’s like taking a single bite out of a cookie and putting it back on the tray. Dead Witch Walking takes a little time to get going, but once it does, it doesn’t let up!

I’d like to thank Gallery Books, Kim Harrison, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of The Turn.

Other books you might like:

 

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: The Turn by Kim Harrison

the-turnTitle: The Turn

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #0.1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: January 26, 2017

The Overview: Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before! Can science save us when all else fails? Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction. Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Nik’s Notes:

I was just lamenting to a friend how sad I was that The Hollows was finished. Even though The Turn won’t center around Rachel or any of her awesome co-stars, it covers a time period before the series that I’ve always wanted to know more about (the turn, obviously). I’m so excited – this prequel feels like finding an extra present under the Christmas tree!

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison

witch with no nameTitle: The Witch With No Name

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: Rachel Morgan #13

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Rachel Morgan’s come a long way from the clutzy runner of Dead Witch Walking. She’s faced vampires and werewolves, banshees, witches, and soul-eating demons. She’s crossed worlds, channeled gods, and accepted her place as a day-walking demon. She’s lost friends and lovers and family, and an old enemy has become something much more. But power demands responsibility, and world-changers must always pay a price. That time is now. To save Ivy’s soul and the rest of the living vampires, to keep the demonic ever after and our own world from destruction, Rachel Morgan will risk everything. –Goodreads

The Review:

I’ve been slowly working my way through this series for ages, savoring every last moment. Now that I’ve finally reached the end, I feel a combination of sadness that it’s over, satisfaction at how it ended, and gratitude to have experienced such a great series. There are brilliant moments throughout The Hollows that I’ll remember forever. It’s definitely one of my top three all-time favorite urban fantasies.

My favorite part of this series is definitely Rachel’s relationships with the other characters – primarily Trent and Al (who are both written with a lot of duality – something I love). Both are complex relationships that develop slowly over the entire series. What I loved so much about them is the fact that I was never totally sure what their motives were. They had that “mysterious” factor, if you will. The discovery process of figuring out exactly where they stood and watching their relationship with Rachel grow was pure magic. I’m pretty sure Al is one of my favorite characters from any series. Ever. I will miss him the most.

Now that I’ve hinted at how much I love to the series as a whole, I have a few very minor criticisms of The Witch with No Name. With this final book in particular, I admit I expected it to have a stronger climax, being the series-ender and all. That’s not to say it wasn’t as good as the books before it, I was just hoping to feel the escalation of the story a tad more. But really, when dealing with such an amazing body of work, it’s easy to have unrealistically high expectations.

I also found one element of the plot a bit too drawn out and repetitive – that involving the vampire Cormel. Without giving too much away, let’s just say Cormel started blackmailing Rachel to get her to do something for him, but never really carried through on his threats. It went a little like, “do this thing, or else!” and Rachel was like, “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.” to which Cormel would respond “you didn’t do the thing? Well, do the thing, or else!” Personally, I lost patience with the whole dynamic right from the start, which is probably why that whole plot point seem to go on forever. My biggest objection is that it drew the story out unnecessarily and made a once scary character seem a little comical and inconsequential. Like I said, minor. But still annoying…

Anyway, the resolution to the series was everything I hoped it would be – the perfect culmination of events. I’d recommend The Hollows to any urban fantasy fan. In fact, if you love the genre and haven’t at least tried this series yet, than I’m not sure we can be friends until you do…

As a side note, I’m very much looking forward to diving into Harrison’s new Peri Reed Chronicles even though The Drafter hasn’t gotten the highest reviews so far. The way I see it, Harrison is one of those authors who builds her stories into something amazing over the course of several books. I didn’t think Dead Witch Walking was anywhere near as good as her later novels, and I attribute all of that to the way she built the story. And it turned out amazing. Therefore, I’m definitely willing to give her new series some time…

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Ever After by Kim Harrison

Ever After by Kim Harrison

Title: Ever After

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #11

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing… for the worse. While saving the world is important, it isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die. But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan…

The Mini Review:

Ever After wasn’t my favorite book of the genre, but it was still a dang good book. I’m fascinated with the ever after itself (where the demons live), and loved learning more about how the magic involving it and the Ley lines worked. It seems like this series is building towards an epic ending and I’m both excited and sad to see it finish. I currently have two more books to go before I get there… I’m savoring them. Ever after advanced the growing friendship between Rachel and Trent, but not as much as I was hoping for at this point. Although I did learn a little more about Trent’s Elvish heritage and even more about Al the demon, which always makes my day. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention gargoyles! The gargoyles, specifically Bis, got a greater role in the story and I loved every sequence involving him and his kin. Overall, aside from gushing about all the things I love about this series, that’s pretty much it. I enjoyed it as a continuation and am eager as ever to pick up the next one. The Hollows is my favorite urban fantasy series, and I recommend it strongly (although it did take a couple of books before I realize just how much I loved it).

Trouble on Reserve by Kim Harrison

I read this novella immediately after Ever After and have to say I was a bit disappointed. I think coming off of this amazing, slow burning story that provided a satisfying ending left me unprepared for a little ten page adventure without any real resolution. When I picked it up I was thinking it was going to be a seamless continuation from where Ever After left off… not so much. I almost wish I had read it with a bunch of other short stories because then maybe my focus would’ve been a bit different. I guess it just goes to show that expectations are everything. I’d recommend it, but not for the same feel-goods I recommend the main series for.

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Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

Title: A Perfect Blood

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #10

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cinci, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the I.S. and FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: a human hate group is trying to create its own demons to destroy all Inderlanders, and to do so, it needs her blood. She’s faced vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more, but humanity itself might be her toughest challenge yet.

The Mini Review:

I don’t know what happened, but somewhere around book 8 this series went from great to freaking amazing. There are so many things I love about these books, and I talk about all of them in my review of Pale Demon. So for the sake of avoiding repetition, suffice to say I still love this series just as much and am genuinely sad that I’m getting close to the end (I’ve been savoring them). What I loved about this book in particular is that, even though it was kind of a tangent from the main story arc of the series, it progressed a couple of the plot points I’m most interested in. I loved the mystery of the whole thing and especially appreciated Rachel’s resourcefulness. Also, the villains in this one are just plain old humans, but somehow managed to creep me out more than any other supernatural creature to date…go figure. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it reaffirmed why The Hollows is my favorite urban fantasy series. If you haven’t read it yet, start with Dead Which Walking and be ready for it to get better and better with every book!

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by Niki Hawkes