Title: A Fistful of Charms
Author: Kim Harrison
Stand alone or series: Fourth novel in The Hollows (Rachel Morgan) series
Summary: (From amazon.com)
The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her — not necessarily in that order.
Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses — savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.
Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in millennia to ravage and to rule. And suddenly more than Rachel’s soul is at stake.
Why did I read the book: Well, considering how much I adore Ms. Harrison and the stellar books in this series, of course I read this.
I have a huge girl crush on Kim Harrison. Seriously, just when I think her books can’t get any better–they do. I should probably remark that I am writing this review after having read the last available book in the series, so my partiality may be compromised–but no matter, because each of the Rachel Morgan books build on each other, reaching a powerful crescendo.
As with the previous three books, A Fistful of Charms picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of the previous work, setting straight off to work with lose ends tantalizingly dangled in front of the readers’ noses. In the fourth installment, Rachel begins on a run with werewolf insurance adjuster David–who also happens to be her Alpha (for insurance reasons, purely business). And, in typical Rachel Morgan fashion, the run doesn’t go exactly as planned as Rachel ends up somehow in a challenge for her standing as a pack leader (it’s a werewolf thing).
While the first three books focused more on Rachel’s struggles to dodge assassination attempts, evade demon attacks, and navigate Vampire politics, this entry focuses on weres. Something weird is going on with the werewolves–they are somehow working together and combining their strength, something unheard of for the species given their extreme dominance games and power struggles. With a sinister, magic based were alliance in the works, the whole balance of supernatural power would be turned on its head.
Meanwhile, Rache’s former partner, Jenks has finally come out of the funk that he had been in since the third novel–his son Jax is missing…and it’s Rachel’s old (jerk off) flame Nick that is the cause of all the trouble. Turns out…Nick isn’t the straight laced librarian student type Rachel initially took him for. He is in fact a thief, and enlisted Jax’s aid in stealing an artifact that has landed them all in hot water.
Rachel, armed with help from Ceri (Big Al’s former familiar), is forced at a crossroads in her magic. In book 1, Rache insisted that she was a good witch, an Earth witch and didn’t try to mess with ley lines or anything darker because of the threat such power places on the wielder’s soul. That clean cut distinction has come under a lot of blurring in these later books, as Rache learns to master ley line magic…and now she twists some dark magic. Even though the ends are being used for good, the dark magic places more smut on her already smutty aura. In any case, Rachel makes the decision to use whatever power she can to help Nick and Jax, and through the demon curses manages to turn Jenks life size, as well as arm herself with her own transformation spell (as a wolf, just in case she has to face any weres).
As it so happens, when Rache and Jenks finally find Nick and Jax, they are in a whole heap load of trouble. The artifact Nick stole is something the weres want very badly, and they have been torturing Nick to discover its location. Enter Rachel, into the myriad messes she always seems to find herself in.
Yes, this book is more of the same. But as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When ‘the same’ is this good, why would you want anything else! One thing that I am happy Ms. Harrison does, however, is move on with old plot seeds. In this installment, Rachel and Ivy experience a new milestone in their relationship. Whereas some authors try to refrain from moving on with plot lines and giving answers to old questions, Ms. Harrison handles the ever changing relationship between these two characters with awe-worthy skill. I love the complexity of the multiple plot lines, the politics, and especially the relationships in this book. I am frequently amazed at how nothing–and I mean NOTHING–is forgotten. There are no dropped plot lines that are glossed over, or details that are left behind in obscurity. Ms. Harrison is truly exceptional.
I gotta admit–Kim Harrison has definitely crossed into automatic read territory. I don’t care what the book may be about. If she wrote it, it gets bumped up to the top of the TBR, to be read with reckless abandon. Yes–she’s THAT good.
Notable Quotes/Parts: Must. Resist. The. Urge. To. Spoil. Ok ok, spoiler free, when Jenks is turned into a full-sized person (sans wings and other pixie attributes), he provides much needed levity to the story. Not only is Jenks one mighty fine looking pixie, but his experiences with everything–from food, to drink, to karaoke and clothes shopping–is hilarious.
Additional Thoughts: One last gush about Rachel as a heroine–I find her completely endearing, in all her blundering and spontaneity. Can’t wait to read more!
Verdict: Absolutely enamored. I love Rachel Morgan and have become a shocking Kim Harrison fan girl.
Rating: 9 Damn Near Perfection
Reading Next: Heroes Adrift by Moira J. Moore