Ever After by Kim Harrison

(The Hollows, #11)
Urban Fantasy
Published January 22, 2013

The ever-after, the demonic realm that parallels our own, is shrinking, and if it disappears, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to fix the ever-after before the fragile balance between magic users and humans falls apart.

Of course, there's also the small fact that Rachel is the one who caused the ley line to rip in the first place, and her life is forfeit unless she can fix it. Not to mention the most powerful demon in the ever-after—the soul-eater Ku'Sox Sha-Ku'ru—has vowed to destroy her, and has kidnapped her friend and her goddaughter as leverage. If Rachel doesn't give herself up, they will die.

Forced by circumstance, Rachel teams up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack—a partnership fraught with dangers of the heart as well as betrayal of the soul—to return to the ever-after and rescue those she loves. One world teeters on the brink of interspecies war, the other on the brink of its very demise—and it's up to Rachel to keep them both from being destroyed.

“Hate is all that keeps us alive when love is gone. You’re almost there. Not quite ready to let it go yet.”  - Al

After waiting a year with bated breath, revving myself up with tidbits, hints, early cover releases (and debates because of the "blonde hair"), early chapters (of which I only read one to prevent further torture since the release was imminent), and even getting the little collectable coat tag hanger from the author as part of it's promotion, I must say it was worth the wait, every second of it, and is likely the best yet of the bunch.

We get a slew of returning and main characters and ample time to soak in most of the goodies - Trent is present for nearly the entire book, so Trent fans should be more than happy with events. Al, my personal favorite, was heavily present in the first part of the book, then appears again later, but sadly was not present for the middle and bulk of the story. Ivy makes an entrance and that's about it, as her story - as Kim Harrison has stated - is leading her off on her own paths. The vampires were thrown in almost as an afterthought, maybe a prequel of things to later come.

Ever After is a double whammy, double tragedy. I won't spoil it, of course, but as was warned by the author herself, this is a sad one. Those on the top of my suspect list to bite the big one did not necessarily do so, and instead I was surprised as to who really permanently falls.

Kim Harrison has a knack for writing grief and making it convincing without muddling the waters with melodrama, cliches, and unrealistic responses. She did an excellent job having Rachel and others grieve for the loss of another major character earlier in the series. Instead of writing it in one book and then basically moving on, the character was grieved for with several books and is still brought up (as they should be, this is more realistic.) Not all authors embrace this realism but I'm happy Harrison does. This book follows those lines with convincing shock, surprise, anguish, and after effects.

The beginning is not a heady rush into action, but more of a slower buildup into a giant, rolling boil. When the action does ignite, it is nonstop from there, with small pauses for breathing, reflections, and regrouping. The ending was incredibly brilliant, especially with the trio team, and the battle was likely the best of the series thus far. The ending wasn't an abrupt wrap up - Thank God! - and was an appropriate aftereffect and promises of more to come.

The villain - Ku'Sox (yuck) - is truly dark, demented, and hated for ample reasons. He steers the story with his deviousness, but the main act behind everything is always and should always be Rachel. She is growing into her own, not fretting as much about who and what she really is and what she can accomplish, but also still staying true to her main character and the morals which makes her the splendid "itchy witch" she is.

While a clear five writing for pacing, action, characterization, events, dialogue and enjoyment level (let me just say clearly, WOW), there are minor flaws. These don't derive from the star, the goodies make up for these.

1) One is a small bit of inconsistency from earlier books that don't add up. There are also questions in my mind such as when she lists the group of people who have her summoning name (one shouldn't be on the list as far as I can see.) Also, Trent tries to question her on what she would have done with something he did in the first book which she greatly disapproved of, putting a spin on it that wasn't really there. I have re-read the first book recently, and it wasn't exactly greed why the guy was running, he was concerned and disturbed about Rachel's predicament. This new twist to try and making Trent's action seems a bit nobler now rings a little false.

2) This book was focused on the Ever After big time, but Rachel really doesn't spend that much time there besides a few key parts. I was expecting from the title, description, and buildup, for that to be a little more sketched out.

3) A small thing, but it kept standing out to me, and became a bit unrealistic, that Rachel kept shouting so much. Strange as this sounds, she seems to shout A LOT in this book. At the trial, at the enemy, on the brink of a whim she seems to respond by shouting randomly without hesitation and at the drop of a hat, when no one else is shouting, making her look a little unwise with how she handles things.

These issues are miniscule compared to the mountains of goodies in this book. It's dark, it's demented, and it's a tragedy. But it's true to the series, an important turning point, and this series really does get better with age. The longer it's written, the deeper the world evolves, but the characters all stay true to themselves even as more is revealed as further layers of them peel away before our eyes. Outstanding stuff, I can't wait for the next one, and sadly there are only two more. With the talented pen of Harrison, this series is a long-running one that deserves to be the length it is, not losing any of it's steam as it soars, not chugs, along.

   Book Quotes:

“You cannot thrash the person who makes you coffee. It's a rule somewhere.”- Al

"I think you're all screwy in the head," he said when Bis nodded his encouragement. "But go ahead. I've got Quen's number in my phone. I'll call him if you both explode in a flash of black underwear and money so I won't have to fly all the way home.” - Jenks

“I will compensate all your one-inch, two-inch losses because I know how important every inch is to you aged, decrepit men.” - Newt

“Al was cruel, vindictive, angry, elegant, powerful. He gave me strength, he gave me wisdom, not only about magic, but about myself. He was a lot like Trent, only harsher around the edges.” - Rachel

“Pierce took a step back to put more space between us. “I demanded too much,” he said, his sadness at himself, not me. “I see in your heart you found someone who makes you strong who does not hold too tight, who has learned that the pain of losing you to fate is more than the pain of you dying in a cage. Who is he?” - Pierce

   Wallpaper from Kim Harrison's Site:

Read Chapter One here

   Similar Reviews: