Don’t get me wrong, I liked White Witch, Black Curse. It’s every bit as entertaining as the first six books in the Hollows series. Kim Harrison has managed that rare feat in urban fantasy writing; creating a believable fantasy world that is true to what we expect from vampires and werewolves and witches, yet unique on its own terms. The problem I have is that the farther into the series I get the more I read it like I do the recent rash of expanded universe Star Wars novels, more from a connection to the characters and the setting than any literary interest in the story. Too put it simply, Star Wars has gone from Space Opera to Soap Opera and the Hollows is dangerously close to following suit.
First though, a bit of introduction for those of you unfamiliar with the series. Have you heard of Watson and Crick? The guys who discovered DNA back in the 50’s? In the alternate universe of the Hollows Rosalind Franklin worked much more closely with the two, (She really did have a major part in the discovery, even if she doesn’t get much credit) resulting in genetic engineering being made viable quickly. Unfortunately this leads to a genetically modified tomato picking up a virus that wipes out a full quarter of the human population. This became a problem for the populations of non-humans living among them who suddenly found themselves having to answer why they weren’t getting sick. In the end the combined races of non-humans (called inderlanders in the novels) came out of the figurative closet and took their place alongside the humans in a vastly different world order.
That was 40 years ago. Now two rival police organizations try and keep the races from going to war (or protecting the status quo as the case may be) The I.S., made up entirely of inderlanders policing their own, and the FIB, humans struggling to keep tabs on their less understood and often dangerous neighbors.
Rachel Morgan used to be a runner (sort of like a US Marshal or Bounty Hunter) for the I.S., quitting in the first part of the series to set up shop as an independent operative, along with her backup Jenks a minscule pixie, and Ivy, a ‘living’ vampire who has some of the strengths and none of the weaknesses of the true undead, but who also will becomes a full vampire upon death.(losing her soul in the process) Adding to all the posibilities of these three very different people working (and living) out of an old chapel is the fact that Rachel is a hero very much in the mold of Harry Dresden or Philip Marlowe, someone trying to do the right thing, but not concerned with who they piss off or make enemies of. It’s damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, but not without getting Rachel and her friends into many dangerous situations.
If that was all there was to the series I wouldn’t be complaining. The problem lies in that the list of enemies Rachel makes just keeps growing, along with the sometimes ludicrous lengths she must go to in order to get out of her problems, not to mention her steadily worsening personal life. By book seven’s opening (Spoiler Warning) she has worked herself into debt with a demon for a full two-thirds of her soul, become his apprentice, risked addiction to the vampiric bite repeatedly, upset the balance of power for the entire city and potentially the world in not one but four of the major races of inderlanders, alientated almost the entire witch community, and burned all her bridges with the I.S. All that and I could stilll go on. (Spoler Warning)
I still really enjoy the series, and hopefully soon some of these ongoing problems will be solved, even if they are only replaced by others. I know its weird to be talking about a fantasy series stretching credulity too much, but I guess I just like some reality in my fiction. Even with these problems the Hollows is still one of the better fantasy series out there right now, certainly good enough to get me to read White Witch, Black Curse in a single sitting after getting home from work exhausted at 9pm. The first book is called Dead Witch Walking, give it a try, even if you don’t ultimately like the series it won’t be time wasted.
[tags]Kim Harrison, The Hollows, Rachel Morgan, Ubran Fantasy[/tags]