Here is some advice to everyone: don’t spend seventy five percent of the drive from Woodland to Sonoma typing on your phone nonstop. Though I was overall fairly pleased with the post, I had a headache for a while. I would’ve been better off if I’d brought my laptop and typed on that, and then found a wi-fi hotspot to upload it to the blog once we got to Sonoma. But no. I decided to try out the Word Press mobile app. Okay, I’m done bitching now. I had a lovely day at work, filled with emergencies and laceration repairs. It was thirteen plus hours though and I’m tired.
The third story in Into the Woods is “Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil.” This, like “Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel,” is a novella length story. Unlike the latter, this story felt long. This story focuses on Rachel’s partner/roommate Ivy Tamwood and her life before she meets Rachel. When the series began Ivy had stopped taking blood for any reason because her master vampire, Piscary, had, well, kind of molested her, as much as vamps molest each other, and messed up her head so she couldn’t bite anyone without wanting to have sex as well. Blood and love and sex were so intertwined in her head (and this may seem like a normal thing, but apparently in Kim Harrison’s world most vamps are able to separate the three things) that sometime between the end of this story and the beginning of Dead Witch Walking she elects to become “blood celibate,” until such time as she is able to keep them all separate in her head. The point of this digression is that when this story takes place, Ivy is very much not blood celibate. This story is the epitome of vampire porn. You’d think that would be exciting and fast-paced. But no. I was totally bored and kept wishing it were over. There were parts that were pretty steamy, but in between those times I didn’t care that Ivy and Kisten had to get rid of a body for Piscary, or that Ivy decided to frame her boss at the I.S. for a murder in order to do… Something. I don’t know. And I don’t care. I don’t know how good a job I did explaining Ivy’s neuroses about blood and sex and whathaveyou. It’s all very convoluted.
The next story is “Dirty Magic.” Now this one was pretty interesting. It focuses on Mia, a banshee and the villain of White Witch, Black Curse, the seventh book in the series. Banshees, for those of you who are not familiar, have their origins in Irish mythology. They are spirits who were considered omens of death. In Kim Harrison’s world, they are always women, and they survive by feeding off the emotions of others. A little feeding leaves a victim feeling drained, emotionally and physically. A lot of feeding can kill a person by dissipating his or her aura. Banshees can feed off the loose emotion, or they can store it in the form of “tears,” which are described as crystalline objects, and can be traced back to the banshee who made them. Mia has managed to have a child, which is near-impossible for a banshee to do. Banshee children have insatiable appetites for emotions, and no control over how much they take from anyone. So Mia goes to see Tom, a nice man who loves her. She convinces him that she has made a wish to make him immune to her soul-sucking behavior (which is a lie, ultimately), so they can finally truly be together. This means sex. Of course. This is still vampire porn, no matter how cool the world is. Mia manages to keep Tom from noticing that his emotions are draining out of him, and he dies, in more than one way. Mia collects the tears and goes home to her daughter. This story was interesting to me on multiple levels. First, it shows a villain who is conflicted and desperate. Harrison is really quite good at this—she gets you to care about even the most depraved individuals, or if not care about them, at least respect their points of view. I remembered Mia from the earlier book, and I think that she was a somewhat sympathetic character then, too. I mean, she’s just trying to take care of her baby, you know? She seems to truly regret what she does to Tom, and for most of the story I was convinced she had feelings for him. I’m still not sure if she did or didn’t, and am considering going back and rereading to see if I can pick up any clues. It was cool to learn more about banshees as well. I remember there was this episode of Charmed (don’t judge me for watching that show) in which one of the sisters (okay, it was Phoebe, I totally remembered) gets turned into a banshee. That was the first time I had heard of them other than the phrase “wailing like a banshee,” but I never really knew what it meant.
The next story, “The Bridges of Eden Park,” was pretty short, but Rachel was actually in it! It focuses on her and Kisten and a run-in with some out of town vamps. Kisten apparently has a sister who married some unsavory out of town vampire, who is trying to take their son away from her. Most of this story is a lead up to a fight, then there’s a fight, and then, just as quickly it ends. Kisten’s sister doesn’t loser her son, and that’s basically the end. I was a little disappointed with the brevity of this story. It was enjoyable, but it could have been longer. I don’t even remember ever hearing about Kisten having a sister or a nephew before, unless it was mentioned in passing at one point or another. I think that Harrison only wrote this story so she could hang out with Kisten and Rachel as a happy couple one more time. She says as much in the introduction paragraph. Well, really I think she missed Kisten.
One last story discussion before I stumble off to bed. Three days of work in a row have been thirteen plus hour days and I’m tired. “Ley Line Drifter” is about Jenks, Ivy, and Bis (the house gargoyle). Jenks is approached by another Cincinnati pixie, who is young and just beginning his family. He and his wife moved to an unoccupied park. They had no idea why such a nice patch of land wouldn’t already have a pixie family tending it, and then they found out: there’s an evil statue that possesses and kills tiny pixie folk (or potentially whoever). This was a fun story. I suspect that the bad statue, who is actually an imprisoned dryad, will be back to cause trouble someday. It was interesting to learn more about pixie family dynamics, and to see Jenks and Ivy and Bis work together—this story takes place during one of Rachel’s weekends in the Ever-After working for Algaliarept, which explains her absence. I had sort of forgotten about Bis, actually.