THE UNDEAD POOL BY KIM HARRISON

rating
(The Hollows, #12)
Published Feb. 25, 2014
URBAN FANTASY


Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering.

Rachel must stop the occurrences before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and it becomes all-out supernatural war. However, the only way to do so is through the ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils.


“Money drives the world, but when everything falls apart to leave the underpinnings of our life bare to the scrutiny of critics and thieves, the only thing remaining, the only thing that can’t be taken away, is the love you hold for the people you care about.”


Warning – there are spoilers in this review.

The Hollows series has remained my favorite series for several years– it has everything I want in a continued world – darkness, humor, the supernatural done right, exciting plotlines that are focused on, amazing characterization, and addicting dialogue. Pretty much all my fangirl buttons are pushed. To say I was excited to read this book is an understatement. Just like last year, I made sure I had the day off from work to sit all day and read this the day of its release. Like last year, I ordered some sort of special food I’d been craving and hardly get to eat. I do nothing else but read and relax during a Hollows reading day, treating myself to the newest release of my favorite series.

The book is about 430 pages, and in its paper walls there is a lot of action (at first, and at the ending). The first part of the book is especially charming, opening up with a golf scene and the inevitable dating that comes with Trent and Rachel. The bowling scene was sweet, awesome, and a perfect first date. The fight scene which followed rocked with Rachel showing how many tricks she has developed up her sleep under Al’s direction and her own study.

I dug how much Jenks was in the book, flittering around from scene to scene as a friend, partner, and relationship encourager. He teased with his typical raunchiness, provided some of the best lines of the story as usual - where would we be without Jenks? I was a bit bothered by a line he says to Rachel at the end about picking her new partner to watch her back, but I like to think he’s not being replaced, but sees changes coming. So many of his kids have grown and left, so there is a change of emptiness while reading those scenes. There’s still plenty of them flying around to provide pixie fun.

The main storyline with the goddess and mystics was intriguing and creatively done. I applaud Kim for her originality and how complexly layered the details. The scene with the 'summoning' and the bodies was simply creepy *shiver*. I do hope the goddess plot is done with and that the next book focuses on resolving its roots, but it was cool to have it in this one. I personally never had an issue with Rachel being a pure demon and a powerful one at that, so I do hope it’s not mellowed further by having to add more of the elven stuff into her. I always liked our itchy witch fine the way she was the other books – demon, witchy, independent.

David has been seen little in several books but makes a comeback here often. He has always been an enchanting character. We get to see Eden again, which is awesome. I always loved his father-figure, protective character.

Rachel finally says goodbye to a role that I feel she should say goodbye to. Letting go here makes sense and is how I figured it would happen.

Ivy is a focus in the story. In some of the previous books she has been around a little less, but here she’s present in the first half quite a bit. She also seems calmer and to be changing because of her relationship with Nina. There are still signs of the tough vampire we all know and love, but overall she has really started mellowing out. A change that’s been obviously coming is spelled out in this book. I did have an issue with how often Rachel kept mentally repeating why they can’t work and would work better apart, because really this isn’t true. They wouldn't work as a romantic relationship, but I always thought they always worked so well together as friends and partners. I’d like to think they always stay close and active in each other’s lives, helping each other when it’s needed. I don’t see why it keeps getting so clearly pointed out about them not working out romantically when that was resolved so many books ago.

The Undead Pool as its title and the beginning focusing on vampires made me think this installment would focus more on the fanged fiends and lead the way towards resolving a main plot element (Ivy) present from book one. Instead the vampires are there in mention sometimes, but it mainly focuses on the elves and their goddess. Eventually the vampire angle basically disappears besides brief mention to be overshadowed by all things elvish.

This is where I started to get bugged. It’s making it clear again that all things Elf are superior (I disagree, but the series has somehow become elf obsessed because of Trent) – their magic is now superior, they are superior, their cultures (never saw that from the other books, but since Trent is making the spotlight, it’s being focused on now.) For a book of this length, so much time is spent on the angst and buildup in Rachel’s head of her and Trent’s relationship.

For once the plot of the Hollows takes too much of a backseat to just have relationship speak
. It becomes more of a paranormal romance when it’s always been a straight Urban Fantasy series. She repeatedly – and I mean, repeatedly – keeps mentioning the lines of Trent’s backside and body as he walks by. His smell is in every scene he’s in, mentioned often. And now that he is here, it seems almost everyone else is taking a backseat – either pushed out of the way entirely or replaced. I know things change, that’s to be expected, but I see no reason why her other relationships can’t still exist and keep evolving too. Just getting a man in her life should not replace all that and strip Rachel down to such a simplistic character.

Al, my favorite, is in a few scenes at the beginning, but never to be seen again until the end, where a heartbreaking scene makes it way for about two pages. I really hope this is resolved in the next book, and resolved well, otherwise I will feel haunted. To me one of the main aspects of the series has been Rachel finding out what she is and exploring that side, and evolving into the teacher/student/friend bond with Al. Through that she learns more about the demons.

His reaction at the end was harsh and I disliked the end wrap-up. I felt hollow afterwards and cheated. His reaction was based on fear, protection of self, and betrayal. I would have liked a different ending for the book but we shall wait and see for the next book what is resolved. I also thought the scene with another character at the very end was a bit silly.

To me the end was a slap in the face and one of the main reasons this book was four stars. I disliked the backset and again feel that since Trent is here, almost everyone else is seeming less important. I see no reason why that would happen. Rachel never fit that stereotype. She always had such an interesting, layered life. Seeing her bared down to Trent’s side raising his children and riding horses in fields never fit into the picture as all she is and all she can be. Cool if she does that too, but I like the excitement before that she kept around too, other people she would relate to, outside interests that were her own. She was always independent.

At least we know what happens with Nick.

Newt was epic in this book. Her tea party scene was priceless and she gives good advice on the Trent situation. Her ending scene was focused on the elves a bit more as well, but she was severely needed in the book. Her advice was sage. I do keep wondering, with how wise she has always been and how true her words turn out, if her words during the tea scene about Rachel wanting to do something (avoiding spoilers) herself will come true in the future. I can’t see how the betrayal would happen as it doesn’t fit into character we know, but with all the foreshadowing perhaps one day it will. I really doubt Kim Harrison will end the series with a betrayal as she is just building up a relationship and has to tie the races together, so there wouldn’t be plausibility or time to have that happen. I guess it is something the reader is supposed to wonder about happening off-page in the future.

With only one book left, I worry about so much still needing wrapped up and solved. We have a major story with Ivy left to get fixed, the demon/elf thing, fixing of a relationship (I pray anyway!). These are all big things, but with Kim being such a talented author who has created such a brilliant series, I’m sure the last book will do everything well.

Overall there were issues I had with the book, but being a Hollows book of course I loved it too. I worry about some of the regulars seeming a little sanitized this time around and bothered by such a surprising series relying on a few predictable developments. I think a little magic has been dampered as a few relationships, especially the new ones, seem forced and a bit dull. Despite these issues it was another excellent story with a creative development, a major fighting battle where everyone shone in their roles, some wonderful scenes I will re-read often, and is an enjoyable book that is well on its way to wrapping up an epic world that will cause misery to me when it ends.

At least the Hollows can always be kept alive in the minds of fans and by re-reads. But still, thank God for another book next year :)


   Book Quotes:

“Yeah, the elf looks good in the sun," Jenks smart-mouthed, the pixy currently sitting on the bottom of my hooped earrings and out of the moderate wind. "When you going to put us all out of your misery and boink him?” - Jenks

 “That’s how pixies know we’re in love,” he said as he folded his dragonfly-like wings and wiggled out of his red jacket, wincing as something pulled. “If the girl has glow, she won’t say no.”  - Jenks


   Author Extras:


READ THE REST OF CHAPTER ONE, TWO, AND THREE AT THE HARPER SITE 


   Other Reviews from this series:




Copyright 2016 by the author (A./E. Williams). Do not copy reviews, articles, or graphics. See the About Me page for information. Registered at Free Copyright Protection.


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