The worst thing about this book is that it has this feeling of getting things ready for a big end-of-series climax (this is the penultimate book of The Hollows series). There are way too many questions left at the end of this book: what’s going to happen with the mystics? What’s going to happen with the elves and demons? Is Al going to continue to not speak to Rachel? Is the goddess going to come back for Rachel? Are Trent and Jenks going to continue their “bromance” for another book? What about the undead vampires and their souls? Is anyone going to clean up Cincinnati or is it going to be a burning ruin for the foreseeable future?
Wait! I skipped to the end of my review! Crap. I’ll back up. So when we last saw Rachel and the gang, she had saved the ever after from being destroyed by the insane demon Ku’Sox. She and Trent had kissed. Trouble was brewing with the vampires. The Undead Pool jumps us ahead three months, from early spring to mid summer, right before the 4th of July. Rachel has been working as Trent’s “security” while Quen has been out west with Ellasbeth, Trent’s once and future fiancée, and the two elf children, Lucy and Ray. Rachel is falling for Trent, and Trent is falling for Rachel, and Jenks keeps making dirty comments about it. Then, one day while these three are playing golf (okay, Trent is playing golf, Rachel is caddying for him, and Jenks is buzzing around), Rachel deflects an errant ball, and the curse she uses to do so “misfires” and makes a giant crater in the golf course. Turns out there are magical misfires happening all over Cincinnati and coincidentally all the undead vampires have fallen asleep and no one can wake them up. The undead vampires do a lot to keep the living vampire population in line, and without them to keep order, the living vamps are getting a titch unruly. The peace among all the Inderlander species is breaking down, and martial law is declared in Cincinnati and The Hollows. Rachel gets dragged into the fray because, of course, it seems that the misfires are being caused by waves of energy originating from her ley line (you know the one, it was sucking up ever after in the last book?) and these waves are not natural occurrences. Turns out there is a faction of living vampires called the “Free Vampires” who want to live without having undead master vampires pulling their strings, and who want to live one life, their living life, and not have to endure the undead part of their existence. There’s much more to the story than this, of course, but to get into all of the plot twists and turns is way more than I want to do tonight. Harrison delves further into elven wild magic, their deity-based religion, and their political infrastructure as well, which is really quite interesting, though I suspect there is more that she isn’t telling us about these elves. I know there are big pieces of the puzzle of the relationship between elves and demons that have yet to be revealed, and I have some thoughts about where the vampires fit in to all this, but I’m going to keep them to myself until I find out if I’m right or not.
I don’t think it will be revealing too much to say that these magical waves are made up of energy particles that are believed to be part of the elven deity, who is sort of an omniscient energy form that no one really believes in. The goddess that no one believes in eventually latches onto Rachel, possesses her, and then shenanigans ensue. The last hundred pages were non-stop action. I had a hard time putting the book down to write a post about it last night, to sleep, to go for a hike this morning, and to drive home from my parents’ house this afternoon. All of the species play a part here. And I love books like this with casts of thousands. This aspect of the book is one of the things that gave me the impression that Harrison is tying up some loose ends before the big climax in the last book that I assume will be coming out at this time next year? I hope? I just read all three Kim Harrison books I’d been sitting on for over a year in like a month. I really hope I don’t have to wait longer than a year!
Good news on the analysis of text aspect of my review: I actually marked examples this time. Here is an example of the weird prepositional phrases I mentioned in my Ever After post: “…[Newt’s] staff hitting the earth to pinch the rocks and make them skip (46).” And another: “….his lips inches from my ear to make me shiver again (201).” And one last one: “David yawned to show me his teeth… (305).” I just looked up the definition of a prepositional phrase—and these aren’t actually prepositional phrases. They are adverb infinitive phrases, or verbals! I relearned a grammar thing today because of Kim Harrison. So my issue is generally the same. I don’t necessarily think that these are used appropriately. Verbals should describe the action of the verb, and prepositional phrases should describe a noun. For example, a prepositional phrase is “the girl with the nerdy blog post has too much free time on her hands,” or a verbal would be “the girl wrote the nerdy blog post to please elementary school English teachers everywhere.” The verbals that Harrison uses don’t always describe the planned intent of the verb, like I don’t know that David yawned with the express intention of showing his teeth, and I don’t know that Newt’s staff hit the earth specifically to pinch the rocks and make them skip. Or that Trent’s lips were close to Rachel’s ear specifically to make her shiver (though they could have been). So my annoyance with these turns of phrase I guess arise from the fact that they don’t describe the intended purpose of the action, but rather an effect, often on Rachel, at least in these examples. I hope that my first ever grammar rant makes some sense. There are more uses of “spilling,” though not quite as much as in Ever After.
So like I said at the beginning of the post, there are lots of inklings of the beginning of the end of The Hollows, of ends being tied up, in The Undead Pool. And that makes me a bit sad. I don’t do much reading of series as an adult, other than young adult trilogies, but those are different, because we always know that they’re going to be a trilogy and that there will be an end pretty quickly. Twelve books is a long time to spend with Rachel Morgan and her family and friends. I’ve grown pretty attached to these characters, and like I keep saying, this series hasn’t gone downhill like a certain Charlaine Harris vampire series I finished reading last year. I was glad to see that one end. I think that unless Kim Harrison messes up badly in book thirteen I’m going to miss the hell out of these characters, and I might even consider rereading these books in a few years.