Historically, I am what is known as a Slow Reader. I take my time. I don’t finish every book I start, because my time is precious – more precious than forcing myself to finish a piece of subpar, boring, plodding prose.
Ordinarily, one of my criteria for literature is how well it stays with me – because I’m such a Slow Reader, I have pretty good recall for things I read.
When I don’t have good recall, I, like any good reader, blame the writer.
And yet, my amnesia when it comes to Kim Harrison’s Hollows Series is the one situation where I actually delight in it.
Let’s be honest: there is a lot of really bad urban fantasy out there. Books where the fantastical elements extend out of the magic and into the plot structure, pacing and characters. The Hollows blows these books out of the water.
And I’m not saying that The Hollows is flawless. Not by any means. But it holds a place dear to my heart – like, the only author autographs I’ve gone out of my way to get.
I started reading about Rachel Morgan when the fourth book came out. Back then they went straight to paperback, and Ms. Harrison’s gradual success has unfortunately been met with more expensive, hardcover first reads.
The world building in this series is a deliciously slow burn. The payoff from one new facet to the next is extremely satisfying. Even details that only come out in the sixth book – like, how did the Ever After come to exist? oh, you know, when the demons were banished they created it and their skid marks are responsible for 50% of magic in the world – make sense because we’re finding this information out along with Rachel. It helps that there are a lot of secrets, and she keeps stumbling onto them.
How do I properly explain how immersive the writing is? I devour each one, despite the fact that I’m murky on details from one book to the next. I love Rachel Morgan and totally understand how her entire social circle would lay down their lives for her. (JK, it’s a totally unrealistic part of the plot but LOOK! DEMONS!)
I, too, want to live in a renovated church with a giant industrial kitchen suitable for both food cooking and spell cooking.
I, too, would like to never be single, despite how much harm my different boyfriends seem to come to over and over again.
I, too, would like for every partner with whom I solve mysteries and fight crime to be sexy and THE BEST at what they do.
I, too, would like to be a really powerful witch, compounded by an inherent genetic quality that makes me THE SPECIALIST WITCH OUT OF EVERYONE.
It is very, very intoxicating, how thoroughly I can convince myself that I am as talented, attractive and resourceful as Rachel Morgan is in her very dangerous life.
Okay, fine, so I don’t really remember what happens from one book to the next. I picked up the first one again a couple years ago and realized that a whole bunch of plot points from the fifth book had been planted there and it’s just like *shrug* okay, cool. Remember how mind blowing it was as a kid to realize Sirius Black’s name appears in the first scene of Harry Potter? When we only knew him from the third book? Yeah, it’s not like that here.
But it’s definitely been plotted, with the possibility that Ms. Harrison knew where the entire series would go when she started writing it, and that is quality that I simply don’t see often enough.
There are now fourteen in a series that was supposed to have twelve. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving.
Well, the truth might be that Harrison’s followup, Peri Reed, is a more suave and less savvy Rachel, in weird pseudo-science version of magic that I frankly did not enjoy at all. So, back to The Hollows with us! Yayyyy!
Million Dollar Demon has just been released and it’s one of maybe three books I pre-ordered this entire year. What happened in the last book? Something with Bis, Rachel’s gargoyle friend, in a coma? I DON’T REMEMBER!
Yet there is something so pleasant about not having to remember.
When Anna Karenina requires copious note taking (so I’m told), when my favorite book this year so far (Commonwealth by Ann Patchett) had multiple family dynamics to keep track of, it’s nice to take a break.
I don’t have to remember much about Trent Kalamack and whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy anymore. I don’t have to remember why Ivy isn’t a scion, but she’s still running the vampire pizza makers of Cincinnati. I don’t have to remember how Jenks is still alive even though everyone he loves is dying out at their proper pixie lifespan.
It’s a relief to relax into a new story about characters that I know I enjoy, even though I don’t have the background.
Please excuse me while I go inhale this installment and then ask for more.