Being the big dork - and rabid Hollows fan - that I am, I wanted to start this book in the back and work my way to the front. This way I got the Non-Hollows stories out of the way first and then ended with stories from the Hollows series as the big bang. I was curious about ALL the stories of course, but the Hollows spoke to me the loudest, exciting me the most.
An easy five stars for the wonderful short stories told in different perspectives or different stages in Rachel's life. The other shorts - four of them - all tell different tales that are original and intriguing.
I had it pre-ordered before it's release and started it in October, so finishing in December is quite sad. I think I wanted to slowly savor every word and drag it out since once it was done, I knew it would be done. That sad feeling when a beloved series is at the last page of the newest book? Yeah, that feeling.
Pet Shop Boys
The main character, a man, had an awful lot of hang-ups. First he didn't want to date the woman because she was too pretty and he thought it wouldn't work, then he didn't want to because she had a kid. He then thought she might have an ex and come with too much baggage. At the party, he found she had another kid and then didn't want to be with her because that's even more baggage. Sheesh. The guy really over-thinks a first date!
He was an okay person to read about, but clearly not the most charming color in the palette. I actually felt more for the “baggage” woman, a beautiful lady who despises her life due to her (avoiding spoilers here) bizarre nature, needs, and world. The kids were charming as much as they could be considering how the surprise turned out
I dug Harrison's writing style and tone with this one. It's not filled non-stop with relentless action or anything, but it really doesn't need that either. I almost felt like it was not a planned story, but she was writing it as it went along, coming up with ideas for it along the way. The story slowly unfolds at a make-sense pace, and even if the ending was a bizarre wrap-up, I could see how this one could possible evolve into a full length book if done right. The story behind the circumstances of the “villains” is unusual enough to stay interesting and want me to keep reading further.
Unusual story with Dryads. This one almost felt more like a few scenes to prove an emotion rather than a short story. It was written well and I loved the impact the characters felt through the lure and mystery of the legend. Overall it was okay but probably the one I enjoyed least in the book. An interesting tale that was told, but nothing too dynamic happened if this makes sense. A happy sort of story, almost like a romance in a way. I realize Kim Harrison must be incredibly interested in Dryads as she has two stories with different viewpoints on them, and also a different sort in the Hollows series as well. She also seems enamored with the woods and spirits, stories surrounding them.
What a yummy story! This was my favorite of the non-hollows. The villain? Brr. Imaginatively wicked, unusual, exciting, and the family thrust in the middle of it fascinated me. THIS is a story that would make a cool full length book as well. There's a lot that can be done with this type of creative villain. It's almost like a blend of fairy tale and poetry.
There is one thing about this that bugged me though, and I almost hate bringing it up. But the writing style itself greatly bugged me until halfway through. It's almost as if Kim Harrison was hesitant or a new writer with this one. I saw a lot of repetitive mistakes with writing skill that took me out of the story. She doesn't write like this with the Hollows and her other stuff so I have no clue what was happening here! It was just awkward.
That twist at the end, too - man! I would have loved to be able to read more of this one. The writing did improve as the story progressed. It was stunning. Would completely buy a book like this one if she wants to take this idea and run with it for a full-lengther.
She created a very different sort of Urban Fantasy type world here. Even more than any of the others, I could see not only a full length book, but a series being born. You have the unusual world, the lead female heroine with flaws and strengths, a potential romance angle you want more of when the story is over and done, a beginning that spurs changes you want to keep reading about. It almost read like the first part of an Urban Fantasy book rather than a short story. I didn't fall in love with Grace - she was likeable enough but very average. It was the story and the possibilities I fell in love with.
THE HOLLOWS STORIES
I'm a huge Al fan and I devoured this one. Set in the time when Ceri was first taken by the demon. It adds an interesting background on more reasons she went with him and was in the situation. Also told some backlore with the elves back then, and all told through the point of view of Algaliarept, emotionless, self-driven, and cruel over 1,000 years ago. The only thing I can say about this story is I wish it had been longer! I was excited about this one and it exceeded all my expectations.
Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel
This story was amazing. I've seen lackluster comments on it but I don't understand why. Maybe it's because a lot of people dislike Pierce so he turned them off in the story. I found him endearing here. I loved seeing Rachel in a younger, much more innocent light. She was vulnerable and untainted. It's great to see her then and know how far she evolved by the time you opened the first page of the first Hollows book. I don't want Pierce as a romantic interest, but I do like him in general and it's clear in this story what a massive role he played in turning her into who she became. Her mother - always loved her quirky mother and can see where she gets her strength from. Digs very deeply into her emotions over her father's death and how this also spurred her on to follow in his footsteps. Her brother is rarely mentioned and not often interacted with. Seeing their banter and hangsup and relationship in this book was awesome to behold. It's made clear how sick she was and her lack of self esteem before the Hollows was born. She's certainly grown a lot - one of my favorite stories.
Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil
This one was also good but not a favorite. I liked seeing through Ivy's head but she is wrapped up in the strange vampire politics which I find fascinating. Fleshes her out a lot as a character and I dug her here. Kisten didn't seem like himself but this could be because it's from a different perspective or situation, pre-Rachel for both. There was an incredibly hot scene in here!! Loved the ending and what it hinted toward.
Told through the point of view of the minor villain Mina (from Black Magic Sanction). Banshees sure sound like a freaky interlander spcies to be avoided. The end held a surprising note for me. The writing with this one was almost hypnotically poetic and hauntingly beautiful. Nasty creature but she seemed realistic and had added depth and dimension from this telling. One of the shorter stories of the series.
The Bridges of Eden Park
I will forever love and miss Kisten. One of the top three best short stories from The Hollows. This sweet line made my heart both melt AND break: “I told you, Rachel,” he said in my ear to start a warm spot in me. “I've got your back. Nothing alive will ever hurt you if I have breath in me. And nothing dead will hurt you if I don't.” Beautiful.
The story was a scene of sweetness between the two. Makes me recall the bridge from other book moments. Also nice to see Rachel dig into her magic and fighting spirit. Meeting Kisten's sister and nephew also intrigued me. Showed how messed up his life was and how sadly tragic it may have also been meant to end. As for the nephew, I'm curious about him. He reminded her of Kisten then, I wonder if he always shall, and I have to wonder if he'll always remember the woman who stood before vamps defending him, staring at her in awe as she boiled the water?
Bittersweet but wonderful story.
Ley Line Drifter
Greatly enjoyed. Jenks has always been one of my favorites. I hope he always stayed Rachel's right-hand man. Ivy may have to move on as situations change but I hope she's always as close to Jenks in the same way she is now. And, I LOVE Bis but find him terribly underused in the series. Having him as a focus was great. Ivy was enjoyable here too as a loyal friend and sultry character. Finally good to read about Daryl coming into the picture and who she actually is.
What won this story over so much too is it was told through Jenks POV, so you get that feel of the pixie world that you never did as much before. The perspective is much stronger.
Million Dollar Baby
I know this was many peoples favorites. Not mine. Good story but to me a bit long winded. Almost bordering on melodrama at times but carried out too long with certain scenes, like the grandmother and internal monologue. The action scenes themselves rocked, though, and Rachel is always right that Jenks is the perfect bodyguard and sidekick. His humor lightened the story and added much needed explanation. Personally I find a lot of the elven traditions a bit disturbing, and this was another one of them. It ended on a happy, powerful note that left good, impressionable feelings.
“Rachel knew what she was doing. And when she didn't, she could improvise on the fly, coming up with options that left a lot of collateral damage but usually only hurt herself, not the people around her. It was one of the things he would never admit that he admired about her.” - Jenks
“Familiars were known for their loose tongues until you cut them out. It was a practice Algaliarept frowned upon. Most of his brethren were bloody plebians. Removing a familiar's tongue completely ruined the nuances of their pleas for mercy.” - Al
“Ï'm going to love you within an inch of your life, then love you some more.” - Al
Book Wallpaper from Kim Harrison's Site: