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The Undead Pool Mass Market Paperback – July 29, 2014
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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 Inderlander and human races is shattering. Rachel must stop this dark necromancy before an all-out supernatural war breaks out.
Rachel knows of only one weapon to ensure the peace: ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils. And no one knows better than Rachel that no good deed goes unpunished . . . .
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“A great ride in and of itself, rather than simply a buildup to the finale, which is sure to be whiz-bang.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Harrison delivers some amazing major payoffs and throws new wrenches into the life of day-walking demon Rachel Morgan....Huge kudos, as Harrison really nails this one!” — RT Book Reviews (top pick)
“Readers who have followed this series will be overjoyed to have Trent and Rachel finally deal with their complicated history and chemistry.” — Library Journal
“There’s a general sensation of closure and imminent climax as Harrison maneuvers toward the end, and patient readers are promised a substantial payoff.” — Publishers Weekly
“The world-building is complex and solid....and the cast of characters is immensely engaging. The Undead Pool doesn’t disappoint.” — Tor.com
“Fast-paced and entertaining.” — Publishers Weekly
“Longtime fans will find their emotions running the gamut, as events for many of Harrison’s familiar characters take new and sometimes tragic turns this time around. Rachel’s journey of self-discovery is hard, frightening and definitely life-threatening; it also makes for fantastic entertainment!” — Romantic Times BOOKclub
“Tense and thrilling.” — Miami Herald
“The world-building is incomparable” — Fresh Fiction
About the Author
Kim Harrison is best known as the author of the #1 New York Times best selling Hollows series, but she has written more than urban fantasy and has published more than two-dozen books spanning the gamut from young adult, accelerated-science thriller, several anthologies, and has scripted two original graphic novels set in the Hollows universe. She has also published traditional fantasy under the name Dawn Cook. Kim is currently working on a new Hollows book between other, non related, urban fantasy projects.
- Publisher : Harper Voyager; Reissue edition (July 29, 2014)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 528 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0061957941
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061957949
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.19 x 1.06 x 6.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #798,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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While I enjoyed Kim Harrison's latest novel in the Rachel Morgan series, I found it ultimately unsatisfying and not as well-written as previous novels. It's a problem that I've had with her last three-four novels, which have increasingly focused on the science of the world and less on the characters inhabiting it. It's almost as if the writer has become more interested in providing a scientific explanation for the supernatural occurrences. The last novel went in depth on the science of ley-lines, this one explores in detail the science behind wild magic and the Goddess, the elven deity, who is a communal mind, reminding me a great deal of the Borg in Star Trek. While on strictly thematic level - the Goddess depiction works, I'm not sure the author handled it well on a character level.
Which is fine, if you aren't into characters or reading mainly for the characters. This author excels at world-building and you can tell that her background is in bio-engineering and science. Her world is detailed and multi-faceted. And the thematic arc regarding inter-species relations, the ethics behind bio-engineering, and the inherent racism, and prejudices involved is rather up-lifting.
Unfortunately, it is beginning to overshadow the characters, who are increasingly taking second to third place to the science, ideology or the theme. The plot at times feels like it is at their expense or that it is driving the characters, not the other way around. Various characters who were originally quite complex have become a bit flat and uninteresting in the last three books. Trent, perhaps one of the most complex characters in the series (next to the demon Al), seems to have become domesticated and a shade too nice. It's almost jarring. Ivy, equally, has lost some of her edge and complexity and has over time fallen deeper and deeper into the background. While the other elves are teased about but not quite explored. We get a little bit more on Jonathan, but it feels like a tease. And Quen resides largely in the background, as if the author has sort of put him out to pasture now that she feels she has wrapped up his story arc. Ellasbeth got a little bit more development, but not a lot and still feels like a one-dimensional villain. And Landon and Bancroft felt...a tad cliche and one-dimensional, focusing far too much on the negative aspects of religion. Making it difficult to care about any of them.
The demons on the other hand continue to get quite a bit of development, we learn more and more about them. Newt, who appears in snippets, gets quite a bit, as does Al. But not so much the elves, who are ironically more prominent. Perhaps the next book will dig deeper? I was admittedly hoping for a bit more on Rachel and Trent's past in summer camp as well as their parent's pasts. We get a hint of what happened to Trent's family and Jonathan's relationship to Trent and his family, but not quite enough.
I felt far too much time was spent on trivialities - such as golf, bowling, or ley-line magic, and not nearly enough on character. It's a failing of the more recent novels. The earlier ones - all the way up to Black Magic Sanction and Pale Demon had this development.
Another quibble is the editing has slacked off over the course of the last five novels. I don't know if this is just a side-effect of e-publishing. (I noticed it slacking off around Black Magic Sanction - which is when I started to buy the novels in kindle/e-book format only.) But considering the price of the e-book, the number of continuity errors and grammatical/typos is grating and inexcusable. You can only get away with that sort of thing - if you heavily discount the book.
Please note: I don't blame the author for this - but rather her editors and publishers, who are directly responsible for the copy-editing and how the book appears. I tend to give authors and in particular self-published authors, a lot of lee-way in this area, because I know proofing one's own work is difficult. We don't always see our own mistakes. That's what "editors" are for. [It's why author's pay them. To edit. Or at least it used to be, now they appear to be more invested in acquiring rights, and marketing than well, editing. ]
If you have someone else publishing your work and are working with an editor who is paid to edit it, not to mention an agent, then that's something else entirely. It's a failing I've been noticing lately in a lot of professionally published novels, particularly genre novels. Someone is not doing their job. What happened to good editing? Kim's earlier novels do not have these mistakes. Did her editor decide not to bother? Did the publishing company stop copy-editing the work? If I were the author, I'd be pissed and find another publisher. I know some authors have self-published because of this. It's actually quite easy to self-publish now, and I'm starting to think it may be the way of the future. You can do it on Amazon through Create Space or for free through Kindle E-Books, apparently.
That said? I did enjoy this novel. And I am liking the direct they've taken the Trent and Rachel relationship from a thematic and character perspective, having always been a huge fan of dramatic irony. Their relationship is heavily ironic if you've read all the books. And at this point, you sort of have to, there's no way you could follow this novel without having read the others.
Also, the author's clever referencing of Clint Eastwood films in her book titles continues to charm. This one is a twist on Eastwood's The Dead Pool. It's almost as if I'm playing a game with the author to see if I can figure out which Clint Eastwood film that her book title is based up on. It also makes her titles memorable. Here's a quick rundown of a few of the more memorable titles, in no particular order.
1. Dead Witch Walking - Dead Man Walking
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead - the Good the Bad and the Ugly
3. Fistful of Charms - Fistful of Dollars
4. The Outlaw Demon Wails - the Outlaw Josey Wails
5. A Few Demons More - A Few Dollars More
6. Ever After - Here After
7. A Pale Demon - A Pale Rider
8. A Perfect Blood - A Perfect World
The use of the titles underlines the noir genre - or dark urban fantasy. Rachel and her friends are much like Eastwood's heroes, Dirty Harry and the Man with No Name - not squeaky clean. But dark heroes walking in a dark landscape, capable of horrible things. Rachel is always on the verge of being overtaken by her power. And each of her friends, and lovers, has committed horrific acts and not always for good or justifiable reasons. While I love Rachel, she can at times, come across as rather whiny and immature, or even pathetic - a failing, I think, of the first person narrative voice. And the reason why many creative writing professors caution against its use. I admittedly wish Harrison employed third person. I think it would solve a lot of the series inherent problems.
Harrison, the author, is also doing a half-way decent job of wrapping up loose plot ends here and there. But many characters of whom we've grown attached seem to disappear or be summarily written out with barely an explanation. They are referenced in this book, and Rachel does miss them. But. I think the only two characters that were written out well were Kisten and Matalina. Possibly Skimmer and Piscary. Everyone else, not so much. [Again most likely a problem that could have been easily solved by abandoning the first person narrative voice.] And as a result some of the emotional resonance or heart of the story seems to be lacking. That may have been my problem with it - for a story that is about trusting the heart over the head, it spends far too much too analyzing and on cerebral or head specifics.
And...I hate to say this but sex scenes and romance really aren't Harrison's strong suite. Friendship, frenemy, and conflict yes - romantic relationships not so much. It always comes across as a wee bit on the awkward side. Again, too much science/head, not enough magic/heart. Harrison needs to set aside the scientist, and let the storyteller play. I think the story would be better if she did.
Overall not a bad read.
"And the kiss...A tingle raced through me. Slowly my smile faded. Ellasbeth didn't know what she had."
"You've had that elf as your familiar for over a year, and he's not put the sparkle in your scrying mirror even once?"
"Trent leaned back, eyeing us over his scribbled legal pad. ' You have amazing friends.'
'I need them to stay alive through my amazing life,' I said, and Ivy became almost sultry as she pulled herself together in her chair and smiled at Trent."
So this is the book! It's the moment of truth for quite a few readers. Do I really need to explain why at this point? Okay, I'll tell you a story about a witch and an elf...
With pressure building for literally a decade now, that's a LOT for a series to live up to. With 11 books under its belt, Rachel Morgan has gone through quite a bit. Her ties to the Ever After and its never-ending problems in her life continue. In Ever After she had to save the parallel universe from shrinking due to her faulty ley line. Now her home town has to deal with dangerous magic causing routine spells to backfire, leading to countless accidents, injuries, and pure chaos all over the city. With magic in shambles, the race relations among all species--human and Inderlander alike--soon follow.
Undead vampires are down but not quite out, so Rachel has to figure out what's wrong with the magic in order for them to restore balance before this madness leads to a point of no return. To do this will require her to tap into wild elven magic. It's as unpredictable as it is ancient, so I think it's safe to say our favorite itchy witch has her work cut out for her (the story of her life). Thankfully she has her friends and her favorite elf, Trent Kalamack, who will do all they can to help her.
As the title states, this book isn't just epic, it really is E.P.I.C.
I'm sure readers will finish this book with a lot of feels. I pretty much went through the emotional wringer with this one, but I found myself satisfied with the outcome of the book even though things aren't perfect. That's the beauty of The Hollows. Rachel and her friends have to earn everything and it's a constant fight to keep it together. We'd be in for a truly boring journey if things were too easy. Trent is not featured on the cover of this book for the hell of it. If you like him you can look forward to seeing a lot of him and his life. If you don't...you'll still see a lot of him and his life. Either way, we get a sense of how Rachel can and can't quite fit into it and he into hers. Since they are both adrenaline junkies in their own right the results are fairly interesting, but any long-term prospects will lead to a few roadblocks.
Obstacle #1: Ellasbeth, ooh Ellasbeth. Talk about baby mama drama! Kim Harrison knows how to make this character grate on a reader's nerves, THIS reader in particular.
Her cute little nickname from Trent doesn't help matters. Though even I will admit that reading about Ellasbeth isn't all bad. For someone with so much dignity (supposedly), even she gets pretty desperate and her subtle attempts to one-up Rachel expose her own glaring insecurities. At the heart of it, all I could think to myself is that Trent's been there, done that and bought the t-shirt, so why does she still try so hard? There are times when you really want to try to like her for the sake of the children, but she does not make it easy. She is here until the end of the series, so be ready.
Obstacles #2 and #3: The demons and the elves. Elves and demons don't have the best history and our favorite demon, Big Al, loves to remind Rachel of this. On the other side of the lines, Trent's elven community is less than thrilled as well. I honestly feel for Al quite a bit here. He is not featured as heavily in this book as he was in Ever After (sorry Al fans, I love him too), but his scenes were really profound and important, further driving home the suffering demons have endured partly due to their past with the elves. I have a feeling this is necessary to help tie up loose ends in the big picture.
But even with those obstacles and that star-crossed lovers element, the chemistry between Rachel and Trent is as strong as ever and it's high time for a definitive move one way or the other. Rachel still tries to fight it with good reason, but she's not the only one. Trent understands his responsibilities too, which should be elsewhere. But fate might have others plans.
There's real movement here in the overall plot and the potential future of The Hollows and Inderlanders in general. Elves are starting to make their move, for better or worse. Vampires seem to be taking a stand against their undead masters, the I.S. and the F.I.B. both have to get their heads out of their rear ends to work together, and even the werewolves get some time to shine. Fans of David will enjoy his involvement with the storyline, though I found it somewhat bittersweet. Either way, change is on the horizon for the Inderlander community and it all goes back to Rachel in one way or another. I love how it all ties in together.
If you thought we learned enough about the world of The Hollows, think again. The use of the magic here was really interesting and the results turn everything on its head. Wild magic is its own beast and it's a little refreshing to see Rachel try to manage something other than earth and ley line magic. It's less tangible making the possibilities feel endless. In this book the state of The Hollows in reality is not far removed from the Ever After with the fabric of civilization crumbling. It's quite a good character study to see how people react in desperate times.
More layers of characters we thought we knew very well are pulled back, proving once again that Harrison is a master at what she does. You don't come to the Hollows for cookie-cutter one-note people. The world and its characters are complicated and ever-evolving. It's one of the reasons I can't quite get enough.
Jenks is in top form here. I don't think he's been this quotable since the earlier books before Matalina's passing. Clearly time heals all wounds even for pixies because he provides some of the best laugh-out-loud dialogue that I've read in a quite while from him. Of course he's not only a source of comic relief. He lives up to the pixy name by being a good judge of character and the all around voice of reason, especially when it comes to Trent and Rachel's beating around the bush with each other. He says what we're all thinking. There's more of the Trent/Jenks bromance that readers of Million Dollar Baby will enjoy too.
All in all, the book lives up to the hype! I continue to be impressed with its high quality going into the home stretch. There are some truly amazing moments and chapters in this book that will be talked about for a long long time ESPECIALLY a certain chapter that I'm not going to mention here...chapter 22. Anyway, practically every new book is my favorite since Pale Demon and this one is the BEST yet for sure! Normally I like to dog-ear certain parts to re-read again, but I literally wanted to do that for the whole book. I am grateful for my kindle and its lovely highlighting and bookmarking features. My tree version of this book would be a mess otherwise!
With just one book to go before The Hollows closes up shop I cannot WAIT to see how it all ends!! I just know that I am so so happy that this is my favorite series. Kim Harrison hasn't let me down at all and though I'm going to miss this dearly when it's done, I am 100% confident she will give this series the ending it deserves.
*ARC Provided by the Publisher
There is wild magic in town and it seems to be tied to Rachel and as bad as it is, it seems like it may get a whole lot worse before it is over. Things are unbalanced in town and Rachel needs to get things under control or the undead vampires may be at risk. I found this story to be incredibly exciting and I loved the fact that this series can still keep me guessing. There is finally some real development in regards to Rachel and Trent’s relationship and it is just kind of nice to see how much these characters have grown over the course of the series.
Marguerite Gavin is the voice of this series. After listening to all of these audiobooks (and I am just going to ignore book 6 which is read by a different narrator), I honestly couldn’t imagine experiencing this series in any other way. The voices that she uses for each of the characters really allow their personalities to shine. I think that she is able to add just the right amount of emotion and excitement to the story to keep listeners glued to their headphones.
I would definitely recommend this series to others. This is a series that really should be read in order since each book builds on the groundwork laid by the earlier books in the series. This is a series that I can see myself reading again. I cannot wait to pick up the next book very soon.
Top reviews from other countries
If this is the first book you have been recommended in the series, STOP NOW, find the first I think it was the good the bad and the ugly ah no -
Dead Witch Walking
The Good, The Bad, and The Undead
Undead in The Garden of Good and Evil--Ivy novella in the anthology Dates From Hell.
Every Which Way But Dead
A Fistful of Charms
"Dirty Magic"--Mia short story in the anthology Hotter Than Hell.
For A Few Demons More
"The Bridges of Eden Park"-Kisten/Rachel short in the US mass market edition of For a Few Demons More
Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel--Robbie/Rachel/Pierce novella in the anthology Holidays are Hell
The Outlaw Demon Wails (retitled Where Demons Dare in the UK)
"The Bespelled"-Ceri/Al short story in the US mass market edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails
Also in anthology Demons, edited by John Skipp
White Witch, Black Curse
Ley Line Drifter--Bis/Jenks novella in anthology Unbound
Black Magic Sanction
Blood Work -- Graphic Novel of Rachel's year interning under Ivy at the IS.
Hollows Insider -- Hollows world book. Full-color, illustrated "coffee table" book. (It's amazing)
A Perfect Blood
Harrison compilation -- Into the Woods (October 9, 2012)
Blood Crime (October 31, 2012) Graphic Novel of Rachel's year interning under Ivy at the IS.
Ever After (January 22, 2013)
The Undead Pool (February 25, 2014)
In this book, Morgan and her posse are on the hunt for a group of people who are using ley lines to wipe out the master vampires, causing "issues" in Cincinnati in the process.
The book wasn't a bad. It rattled along at a decent lick, and had all the usual things that you'd expect from the series. My grumble would be over the fact that they're starting to feel a bit samey, in as much as Morgan tends to wander round being clueless and screwing things up before being brave and saving the day in all the books.
The other things I'd say are:
1) Read the series in order, the books will make more sense that way (it feels like you've bumped into a private conversation sometimes if you don't).
2) I wonder if the primary target for the books are women.
3) The description of guys has made me aware of the descriptions of women might be sexist in books that I've read with a male protagonist. I swear I'll scream if I read another book about sex with guys who have washboard abs any time soon.
First of all, if you've not read all the previous novels, please be aware this is the latest in a sequence of novels and you will be totally lost if you don't read the other books. So, friendly warning aside, the last book left me feeling a bit high and dry at the end there. The sexual tension, and the general humor of the final scenes between the characters left me wanting more, as in right then and there. Sadly I had to wait, but luckily not too long since I found this series rather late.
This picks up as most of the others books do, starting on a low note and gradually working it's way towards the really fun stuff. This was enjoyable and yet again left me wanting more. We see some characters re introduced which help to stir up emotions, the tension between Rachel and Trent is still there and... well just read it and see :)
There are also some surprises in the story which I'm sure will be elaborated on in future books (looking forward to it!). Generally, another great book, couldn't put it down and again I'm left wanting more.
Well, the book won and sleep was but a distant memory.
Soooo, what did I think?
I think, now that I have spent all morning and most of the dayreading it, that this is the best book in this series. I love it, in fact, now I have finished I want to start it all over again!
I could spoil it for you with a synopsis but hey, that's not how I roll, I want you to enjoy for yourself this brilliantly crafted story, to pretend when you are 90% done that you still have hours ahead of you, because I did not want this one to end, it was a triumph.
If you have not read this series and are wondering if you should, heed this advice - either take a couple of weeks off work or deal with the fact that you may not sleep for a while, and get on it! This story goes from strength to strength and is an utter pleasure to read. Fabulous!
The imagination it takes to create this world and its complexity is amazing.
I loved it!