Ever After by Kim Harrison. (Urban Fantasy novel, 2013).
Yep, here I am, as usual getting into an ongoing series long after its debut. In this case, Ever After was the 11th novel in Harrison’s Hollows urban fantasy cycle. Two later novels came out and there’s a graphic novel version, a short story collection, a couple prequels and probably more besides. A very popular series, in other words.
The central character throughout is Rachel Morgan, a modern-day witch who got turned into a day-walking demon. She lives in the Hollows, a place just outside Cincinnati, Ohio, in an alternate reality where much of the human race has died of some sort of plague, magic works and there are all sorts of supernatural creatures. Oh, and there’s a parallel world called the ever-after, a nasty wasteland where demons have to spend the daylight hours (she’s one of the only demons who can go out in sunlight and is still learning her powers).
She works as a sort of mercenary/security agent for hire partnered with an amusingly macho pixie (named Jenks) and a vampire who is one of her several former lovers (Ivy). The old church where they now make their home also features Jenks’ many playfully naughty kids, a wounded fairy named Belle (fairies and pixies are mostly enemies, but she and Jenks are in a developing relationship they both are too embarrassed about to admit just yet).
Elves (led by Trent, a sometimes shady billionaire who Rachel can’t help but have the hots for–even as she denies it, right and left) are traditional enemies of the demons. Oh, and there are Gargoyles–including the sweet-natured adolescent one who’s bound to Rachel and is teaching her how to navigate between the worlds–and undoubtedly other creatures who didn’t figure in this installment.
Got all that?
Actually, the way Harrison writes you can pick up a lot of this on the fly (as I did) and with minimal pain and/or confusion. This is sexy supernatural stuff, verging into forbidden love/romance territory. There’s plenty of rivalries, personal feuds and intrigue going on and I found it all pretty interesting and entertaining. Ku’Sox, a bitter genetically engineered super-demon, is the main villain here. He’s been making trouble throughout the series, it seems, and his latest scheme involves kidnapping Trent’s toddler and the mother of this other kid, while putting his fellow demons in danger of total destruction and framing Rachel for the latter crime. And no, that’s not all. . . .
This is one busy, fast-paced book–though with time left for several other subplots, many of a romantic and/or sexual nature. Barely concealed undertones of erotic dominance, slavery and exploitation are rife. And it seems nobody in either world has a successful, happy or uncomplicated love life. Tragedies occur as loved ones are cruelly sacrificed.
But Rachel comes through eventually, rest assured. Something approaching peace may even be about to breakout between the demons and the elves at the end–though I doubt it will last.
After the novel, there’s a short story involving Rachel and Trent. It apparently takes place before this book and would make a good opening chapter to a full-length novel, but it doesn’t quite work for me as a stand-alone piece. True, they have another dangerous adventure and survive it, but the background to make it fully satisfying is lacking.
Overall, I give this particular book a moderately positive recommendation. Don’t know if I’ll look into older volumes in the series. I might be more likely to track down the two that follow–since it’s been a couple years since the last of those, perhaps the series has come to an end, and I would be curious how it all turns out (beyond the obvious that Rachel and Trent will eventually, somehow get over themselves and become a couple).