Kim Harrison’s ninth book in the Hollows series, Pale Demon, revisits the original inspiration behind the series: “What would happen if you placed a witch, a vampire, and a pixie in a bar?” Only in this case, it’s a cross-country road trip rather than a bar. In addition, an elf, a Witch Council member, and a demon hunter are thrown in for a little extra spice. Pale Demon heavily features almost every character in the Hollows series, including the witch bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, vampire Ivy, fearless pixie Jenks, powerful businessman and elf Trent Kalamack, and demon Al, just to name a few.
Packed with action and adventure along the way, Rachel and Trent team up to tackle their respective problems in California. Rachel must either win over the Witch Council or live with demons in the Ever After. Although the secret “surprise” ending of Trent’s elf quest came as no surprise when I read it, the charm of the story was mainly about the ride, the adventure, and the realizations they discovered along the way. Rachel learned more about her powers and what makes her unique, details that she takes in stride like everything else, despite the fact that what makes her special is not a quality she would have chosen for herself. Trent exhibits his wild elf magic while simultaneously displaying his more gentle “human” side. Rachel bonds with Al and her demon kindred in an entirely new way, which added an intriguing twist I’ve not yet encountered in the fantasy fiction genre.
My trial was Sunday night, and I met Jenk’s and Ivy’s eyes. This had all the earmarks of the tip of an iceberg. Trent was in trouble with the biggest elf family on the West Coast. And though he hadn’t blamed me, I might have had some part in it. Guilt licked at my soul. I had a really bad feeling about this.
Kim Harrison once again shows us that she leads the pack among paranormal fantasy fiction authors for creating a world that is both creative and complex, along with characters that are utterly human despite the depth of their supernatural qualities.