A solid ending to a major multi-book story arc, Harrison is slowly cleaning up the loose ends from the tale and one gets the impression the end is in...moreA solid ending to a major multi-book story arc, Harrison is slowly cleaning up the loose ends from the tale and one gets the impression the end is in sight. My rating would probably be 4 1/2 stars, but I'm bumping it up the extra half (rather than down) because Harrison has managed something so few authors of extended series seem to do nowadays: actual character growth. It's not perfect, but at least her characters can change and learn and move on from their past rather than being permanently trapped in the same identical cycle book after book. Small oddities and flat points exist (I couldn't figure out if the obsession everyone had with what Rachel was going to wear to the final confrontation was meant as some sort of meta-joke), but a strong book.
I've not been a big fan of the clearing-eventually-coming-from-book-1 romance between Rachel and Trent and I don't know if the end of this book is meant to have resolved it or not (I suspect not), but again, at least things are continuing to move forward.
By my figuring, there is only one major unresolved plot point: the long-term status of Ivy and the vampires (there are a few minor issues as well). If that is the focus of the next book or three, I could see this story wrapping up with a fair amount of satisfaction.
A partial review of individual stories at this point.
The Bespelled A story about Al and Ceri, well before the main storyline, this story was fair and d...moreA partial review of individual stories at this point.
The Bespelled A story about Al and Ceri, well before the main storyline, this story was fair and did little for me when I first read it. **½
Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel A solid novella-length work about a young Rachel Morgan as she attempts to summon the ghost of her father in order to get permission to join the IS. Better than many of Harrison's other shorter works, I think part of its success is due to the fact that the longer novella format gives her more room to work with than the short story. Although a prequel to the primary novels, the events in this book set up characters and events that start to appear around the 7th book.
Unfortunately, some of the events detailed in this book are later contradicted in the primary novels. I don't think this story is to blame, as much as Harrison wanting to integrate characters and ideas without having planned ahead to do so, and thus essentially being forced to retcon certain details in the novels to fit the greater theme. It's a shame because the later changes potentially detract from what is a solid story. ****
Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil Another prequel to the primary series, this story focuses on the living vampire, Ivy. Unfortunately, it is not as good as her novels tend to be. Although there is a mystery-of-sorts plot, the story is really about vampiric sexual tension and was much more vampire porn than her longer works. Overall, it felt rather forced. I may be holding this to higher standards than the other stories because I expected more from the author I already liked. **½
Dirty Magic Enjoyable little tale, set in the Rachel Morgan universe, about a Banshee (Mia...who appears in both another short story and in one of the novels) looking for love. ***½
The Bridges of Eden Park A simple story about Rachel and Kisten, there's not much to it. **
Ley Line Drifter This is a nice story about Jax setting up shop on his own and the perception of the "minor" races (i.e. things that are not humans, witches, vampires, werewolves, or elves). ***½
Million Dollar Baby An original story for this anthology, it fills in Trent and Jax's side-trip to "kidnap" Trent's daughter. An interesting side tale with more depth than the others due to it's longer length, it still suffers a bit from Trent's uninteresting self-pity. ***½
Pet Shop Boys The first of the non-Hollows related works, an original short story that sets up a different sort of vampire universe, but not one that works particularly well. **
Temson Estates A short story about dryads, there's no there there. *½
Spider Silk A story about a family with a generations long conflict with the dryad guarding the woods by their farm. Only so-so. **
Grace(less) A pretty good story about a world where some people can manipulate energy and electricity. Definitely has potential for its own series. ***(less)
I really want to give this 2.5 stars. The premise of this book is pretty good, but the execution falls flat. The US Department of Magic, a small secre...moreI really want to give this 2.5 stars. The premise of this book is pretty good, but the execution falls flat. The US Department of Magic, a small secretive department concerned with protecting the US against paranormal attack recruits two new members (Farah and Rocky) who are thrown into the thick of things almost from day 1. However, the background motivation of the department and, in particular, the department head are left a little too loose and lacking. Half the story involves the primary pair running around and "collecting" artifacts of various sorts from local museums. All of these have been there for years, but there is no explanation (or even question asked) as to why suddenly it is a vast emergency that they have to be gathered right now. It's not like the threat they are trying to counter was a surprise to the head of the department; he's clearly known about it for a long time. Character growth is attempted, but not well, and the ending is rather abrupt and serves to do little but set up the story for the inevitable sequel.(less)
The first three books of The Parasol Protectorate series, this is a fairly light-hearted pastiche of steampunk, urban fantasy, and fantasy-of-manners....moreThe first three books of The Parasol Protectorate series, this is a fairly light-hearted pastiche of steampunk, urban fantasy, and fantasy-of-manners. (less)
Collecting issues 6-10, the first 4 contain a story revolving around the (1st) post-Buffy slayer, Faith. It's a good solid story which captures the ch...moreCollecting issues 6-10, the first 4 contain a story revolving around the (1st) post-Buffy slayer, Faith. It's a good solid story which captures the character quite well. The last comic is a somewhat odd one-shot (I presume) which doesn't follow directly from the previous story and feels at this point like filler (although it may hold more importance in future issues). Overall, a more solid book than the first one.(less)
Picking up where the TV series ended, the first 5 comics are pretty good, with decent script and art. The biggest problem I had was it's been too many...morePicking up where the TV series ended, the first 5 comics are pretty good, with decent script and art. The biggest problem I had was it's been too many years since I've since the TV shows and there are a lot of references to events and characters that were just lost on me. Worth reading for fans of the show, but be up-to-date on the mythology for background.(less)
This series has started to really come along strong, with this book being no exception. The characters and back story are continuing to develop well a...moreThis series has started to really come along strong, with this book being no exception. The characters and back story are continuing to develop well and the denouement is much less dependent on seemingly deus-ex machina incidents for conclusion. Looking forward to the next story. (less)