Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Undead - Kim Harrison

The Good, the Bad and the Undead is the second book in the series about Rachel Morgan, ex-IS runner, white witch and now paranormal investigator. The first book was a solid enough read, introducing the reason behind humans and Inderlanders and the characters which inhabit the Hollows, while being nothing spectacular. This book ramps up the action, suspense, excitement, eroticism, terror - it is a whirlwind of a story that doesn't let you breathe until the last page has been turned.

Here Rachel is experiencing trouble meeting her rent payments and suffering from a lack of cases that would provide her income. So she ends up taking on a case through the FIB through necessity - someone is killing leyline witches in a gruesome manner and the FIB want to know who. Rachel finds it easy enough to accept the case, since it seems as though she'll also be able to return to her investigation of Trent Kalamack, a mysterious figure who managed to evade being taken in by the FIB in the first book of the series.

In the course of her investigation Rachel manages to gain a familiar, find out Kalamack's heritage, come to the attention of the master vampire Piscary, take Nick to meet her mother and meet again the demon she dubs Big Al. There are a number of twists in this book that kept me guessing, and I was glad to see the characters gain more and more dimensions.

I particularly love the little details that help to flesh out the world of the Hollows - everything from the fact that Jenks the pixy wears red if he is travelling across the territories of other pixies and fairies to show his harmless intentions; to the fact that humans have an innate distrust of tomatoes since they carried the Angel virus that caused a quarter of humanity to die out. Harrison has also created a menacing otherworld in the form of the ever-after, which lends power to leylines and happens to be where demons roam - I enjoy the way she turns fairytales on their head by showing that rather than finish 'and they lived happily every after', they actually finish 'and they lived in the ever-after'.

As well as the excitement, the violence is ramped up in this book - and some of it is not for queasy stomachs. The descriptions of the witch deaths and Ivy's nasty experience left me with raised eyebrows.

All in all, Harrison has produced a book that is heavy on the entertainment and light on any of the issues I had with the first book. The characters are intriguing, especially Al the demon and Trent, about whom we learn a great deal more in this book. In fact, a lot of the niggling little mysteries from the first novel are cleared up here in an outstanding fashion. I simply cannot wait to move onto the third in the series!

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