The Undead Pool
Harper Voyager / February 25, 2014 / $27.99 print / $13.99 digital
Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now, strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering. Rachel must stop this dark necromancy before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and all-out supernatural war breaks out.
Rachel knows of only weapon to ensure the peace: ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils. And no one know better than Rachel that no good deed goes unpunished . . .
Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series (also known as the Rachel Morgan series) is one of the top selling urban fantasies series to date, and with good cause. Appealing to readers of all ages and genres, Ms. Harrison’s unique blend of sharp wit and imagination has created an alternative world that is filled with never ending magic and mayhem. Ms. Harrison has kept us laughing and crying since her first book, Dead Witch Walking, released in 2004. This intense character driven series is filled with intriguing suspense, non-stop action, smoking hot romances, biting humor, and some truly heartbreaking scenes.
The Undead Pool is the twelth and second to the last book in this series. I am sad to see this series ending—good urban fantasy is hard enough to find, but good urban fantasy with a compelling female lead is even harder to find. And Rachel Morgan, for all her flaws and less than stellar decisions, is a fantastically dynamic and complicated heroine. Perhaps it’s because of those flaws that readers find her appealing. It isn’t often we get a lead character who, even gifted supernaturally, doesn’t always win. Rachel has suffered so much throughout this series. She has lost friends, family, lovers, and even her powers for a bit. She fails as much as she conquers and that makes it easy to like her and her band of equally dynamic sidekicks.
Those who have kept up with the series will be surprised and happy by the turn of events that occur off scene between books 11 and 12 . This installment addresses the underlying sexual tension that has existed between Rachel and Trent Kalamack since their first meeting. From the beginning of the series, Trent and Rachel have been at odds as they each strived to do what they thought was best for the city of Cincinnati and in Trent’s case, himself. Trent, the perfect anti hero, has used his money and power to thwart Rachel at every turn while Rachel has always managed to turn the tides and hold him off at the last moment.
“You need to read your history before someone makes you part of it.”
Rachel and Trent have a long complicated history dating back to their parents which is slowly revealed as the series progresses. We learn that Trent’s father manipulated Rachel’s DNA as a child in order to keep her alive. Of course, the results of that manipulation is why Rachel is currently feared. She is the only living day walking demon, a demon capable of having of not having to live in the Ever After; a place where the demons were banished centuries ago by the Elves. Elves like Trent.
“We exist in a zoo,” she said, chilling me. “You know that, yes?” I hope our funding doesn't run out. I'd give anything for a better enclosure, one that at least hides the bars.“
Though their animosity has gradually changed to tolerance and eventually friendship, Rachel doesn’t trust her feelings for Trent and fears his association with her will only lead to his downfall. Per usual, Rachel is thinking of everyone else but herself.
”You've made your choice. It's a good one and I support it, but you can't have it both ways. So go away and let me do my job.“
Sacrifice and friendship is the base on which this series is built and this particular installment pushes the envelope, acknowledging that Rachel herself doesn’t always have to be the one who has to offer sacrifice for her friends and her city. Decisions Rachel made in previous installments have come for payment and that payment is high. As Rachel and Trent work together to try contain the latest catastrophe that is threatening the supernatural world, allies and enemies come out of the woodwork as Trent and Rachel’s deepening friendship becomes common knowledge. Some like this new result while others will stop at nothing to prevent it. As the clock ticks down and time begins to run out, Rachel discovers that in order to save her friends and the world, she will have to do the one thing she and the supernatural world fear the most...she will have to place her trust and heart in Trent’s hands.
“I want a chance at falling in love.”
I predict The Undead Pool will easily become a cult classic within the series that will provide hours and hours of much beloved re-reading. Action, suspense, anticipation, and some Harrison style misdirection that will have you biting your nails and speed reading to see what happens next. Rachel experiences some major life altering changes and where this will go from here is anyone’s guess. But I can guarantee you won’t want to miss this ride for anything.
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