Tuesday, June 9, 2009

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

This book by Kim Harrison is the seventh in the Hollows series. Basically in the early 1960's, in an alternate world from our own, just when genetic engineering started to take off, a bioengineered tomato created a virus that nearly wiped out humanity. But the supernatural creatures that had been hiding among us for centuries came out of hiding and took a dominant place in society. The result is two conflicting worlds...that of 'inderlanders' who are all the things that go bump in the night, and humans, who have the semi pathetic FCIS to protect them and police humanity.

I liked this book a lot. One of the reasons I like it (aside from the writing) is that Kim Harrison has the courage to follow the natural consequences of such a world. For example, in one scene in the book, she's in a hospital and has to sneak out. Well in the world of the Hollows patients have a lot less rights due to the virus, so the consequences of sneaking out of a hospital are a bit higher than they otherwise might be in our own.

Without spoiling the book, the basic plot follows the main character, Rachel, a witch who is a supernatural bounty hunter, who has to track down a banshee that has caused serious harm to one of her Watsonesque human friends in the FCIS. All the while she has to deal with little side plots that have begun to cling to her life like barnacles from other books. These include; a psychotic demon named Al who occasionally teacher her useful things, an ex-president of the US vampire who wants her to give vampires a soul after they die, and the imminent demise of her best friend's lover (pixies only live 20 years and the time is nearly up for both of them.) Harrison does a good job of keeping things episodal enough so that you feel you get a stand alone adventure in each book, while still advancing the overarching plot to a considerable degree.

I have a minor irritation about how humans are basically the fall guys and made to look lame in order to make all the supernatural critters look cool. There have been a few token attempts to address this early on, but Harrison has gotten better about it over time. Plus, I also realized that without the sixties counter cultural revolution, the more enlightened attitude we have in our time isn't necessarily the norm, and that she is instead dealing with a bunch of humans stuck in the culture of the early 1960's, which makes them less lame. If it was deliberate, that's cool. If it wasn't, she's slowly making humans a bit more than card board cut outs. Plus, she's actually having the witches act in an irrational fashion too in this book, which helps a lot.

I highly recommend the series, though I would also highly recommend tracking down the first one first and reading them in order.

1 comment:

  1. Human beings are lame. Most of us are sheep. Reading blogs and Twitters and Facebook (oh my!) for news on Iran I was amazed at how people there the same as here - every blog has the same percentage of Palin/Limbaugh types spewing their two bits.

    The fact that most people disappoint me is probably why I spend so much of my time with my face in books like Kim Harrison's, where at least the monsters are definable and understandable. People don't make any sense most of the time.