White Witch, Black Curse

(The Hollows, #7)
Urban Fantasy
Published November 2009

Kick-ass bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan has crossed forbidden lines, taken demonic hits, and still stands. But the death of her lover struck her harder than she ever thought possible. She won't rest until his murder is solved . . . and avenged.

But a new predator is moving to the apex of the Inderlander food chain—and now Rachel's past is coming back to haunt her.


“...Everyone had to eat, but eating people wasn't polite.”

When reading reviews of White Witch, Black Curse, I found it interesting to note many view this as a type of “filler novel.” That’s not always a strict compliment, even if their ratings are relatively high and they still praise the series (how can a fan of it not?) In my mind there hasn’t been a bad book from it yet. And really, to me this is no way is a filler novel at all.

The Hollows is a world with intricate layers, curiosities, and dangers. Harrison clearly enjoys filling the pages with action-filled stories in the imaginary setting that plays such an important role it may as well be considered a type of character itself. But even with engrossing plots, it still stands strongly on its feet as a character-based, character-motivated tale. Not just for the heroine Rachel, but for the journeys with her companions and enemies as well. To me this point is what makes it so successful as a series.

Rachel fights perhaps the scariest interlander ever in this one, a small mystery tucked within its edges. Mia is truly scary, almost ridiculously over powered, and her smugness (a trait I detest in real life, on the screen, and written on the pages) irritated me endlessly. Thankfully she’s there when she needs to be to pack the proverbial punch, and you’re not really supposed to like a villain anyway (although for strange reasons I sometimes do...)

In between fighting Mia, Rachel deals with issues in her personal life, frantically trying to save the day, dodge enemy bullets, gets a slap in the face from society, and tries to regain her memory from a tragic night. Quite simply, to me this book rocks the plot AND character world and is no way a filler type deal.

Even if it’s a tad slow sometimes in the beginning, the memory recovery interests me. It was not only a major trauma and loss for Rachel, but for myself and other readers as well. The loss of the character is still hard to cope with. I was relieved to see Harrison return with a vengeance to that story with this one, focusing on bringing in bitter resolutions and answering some questions regarding that painful mystery.

I also don’t want another love interest in the form of Pierce. Most readers dislike the guy quite a bit. As soon as he appeared on page the questions arose if this would be a new man for Rachel. Honestly I find his way of speaking amusing, the mystery surrounding him and his morals slightly interesting, and his motivations a welcome change for friendship. But yes, friendship, I don’t want anything more from him. His different and unique existence appeals to me on a level as someone to be there sometimes, but never as a romantic replacement.

Unlike a lot of my Hollows minded friends, I hadn’t read the short stories before reading this book, so this was my first introduction to the brother Robbie, the one who was missing the rest of the books besides mere, occasional mention. I loved seeing the personal family interactions with him and the mother Alice. Alice just tickles me, she really does. She is like an eccentric, haunted version of an older Rachel. Her sense of humor is contagious, I love her protectiveness of her kids, and her open minded viewpoints make it easy to see how Rachel ended up the great heroine she turned out to be. 

Robbie is certainly flawed – he’s judgmental, disapproving, and a little unbending, but I still enjoyed seeing more of this side of her life, and as a character I in no way dislike the guy. I think it’s because when he is around, I see another side of Rachel I hadn’t before, a younger, vulnerable form. Deeper and different somehow. Rachel’s youth came alive to me and made me smile with sentimentality. I hope Kim brings more of Rachel’s family back for a scene or two before the series finale.

What many were waiting for (me included – anxiously!) finally happens. Her memory of that horrible, good-bye night surfaces. I cried. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I cried in the book when it happened, I cried the next day, and I cried at the memory in this one too. It was depressing, emotional, had to be done. He went down with honor, the memory lining up with my previous impressions of his personality. It’s depressing that he died, but this proves he died a convincing hero in his own way. Magical stuff that’s helped along with Ford’s techniques and reliance, the surreal dream like quality as the memory attempts to emerge and then finally bursts through.

I approve that the author pays proper credit and mourning to characters. Lots of series have grief pass within the book it’s in and don’t mention it as much in the next one. Since Kim has written a realistic world she gives it a few books and time period to realistically play it out – not to dwell, not to overdo it, not to whine, but to show a natural, unforced character progression. It would be unrealistic only if Rachel was not heavily and forever impacted from such a major tragedy. Written any other way would be a poor choice – bad writing or else poor characterization, where it would not change her future choices and courses of action dramatically.

Every Hollows book holds a bit of humor in it’s pot, but this book – and the last few – are much grimmer as life has turned that way as well. Harrison has created a fascinating world with characters I’ve fallen in love with. Kudos. It shines with a dream-life quality which works well for the grief and flashbacks. Her way of creating convincing grief makes it that much more outstanding of a read.

Other characters get to shine as well. We get some Ever After and Al time (yes, yes!), and the scene at the end where they bring in the New Years together is one of the best scenes of the long standing series. Hilarious. Rachel, Trent, Al, Pierce, Jenks, and even Ivy bring in the New Year together, filled with violence and chasing, killer black dresses and heels, trickery and deals, what could be better?

“Pierce jerked his hand from Trent and pushed himself straight. “Kalamack Industries,” he said, expression twisted as he wiped his hand on his pants. “I knew your father.”

“I do not freaking believe this,” I said, shifting to stand where I could see both of them.

Al beamed. “Amazing who you can meet in an elevator.”

The short story at the end of the paperback definitely needs read when this story is done. What an awesome tribute and it brings even more to light.

As always, I recommend this Hollows book to all readers. Just be sure to read the ones which came before it. There wouldn’t be nearly the impact otherwise and you’d be lost in a sea of characters you know too little about and motivations wouldn’t make enough sense to you. Another great addition to the series.

*This Review was based off a Re-Read*

   Some Book Quotes:

"I can think of a lot of things to do," he said, "and none of them involve standing up." -  Al

“Maybe I could be friends with a ghost. I wouldn’t be able to kill him.”- Rachel

“It was starting to smell really good in here. And if I liked what it smelled like, then they were liking what they were smelling, and ah…that would be me.”- Rachel

“Ivy had loved him, too—deeper, on a gut level, with the strength of the past, not like my new love, based on the idea of a future.”- Rachel

   Other Reviews from this series: