Review: Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison

EWWBDhcCoverEvery Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison (The Hollows #3)

Genre: URBAN FANTASY

Publisher: HarperTorch on January 1, 2005

Narrator & Audio Rights: Marguerite Gavin for Audible on July 19, 2012

Source: Bought

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There’s no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who’s already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between “runs,” she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that’s raging in the city’s underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin – and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark “master” is coming to collect his due.

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To everyone who recommended this series to me, and told me to stick with it: you were completely right. EVERY WHICH WAY BUT DEAD was by far the strongest instalment in The Hollows series. Compelling new characters were introduced, the demon plotline was propelled forward, and Rachel made (some) smart decisions. Madness!

Because of some hasty decision-making in the previous book, Rachel is now beholden to the demon Al. He’s determined to possess her body and soul – and not in the cheesy romance cliche sort of way. Dude wants to drag steal her soul and drag her off to the Everafter to be his slave for eternity, where he’ll force her to do black magic for him. If she can’t figure out a way to weasel out of her bargain with him, Rachel’s soul is going to end up covered in blackness and then she’s going to have a serious problem. So no pressure, right?

As if that weren’t enough to deal with, the poor witch’s personal life is in a complete shambles. Her vampire roommate Ivy continues to struggle with her bloodlust and possessiveness, and can’t seem to go one day without threatening to throw down with the guys who are interested in Rachel. As much as Ivy royally ticks me off sometimes, it was gratifying to see Rachel finally acknowledge that Ivy’s feelings for her aren’t just friendship complicated by bloodlust – the girl likes the ladies. In what I have come to accept as typical Rachel Morgan behaviour, she has this epiphany and then promptly chooses to ignore it because dealing with adult things is difficult.

Conversely, Rachel’s other big relationship in EVERY WHICH WAY BUT DEAD seemed to be a little too easy. For all her protestations, she certainly falls at Kisten’s feet pretty dang quickly…especially since she’s clearly not over her last scumbag boyfriend. Oh well, girl’s entitled to a rebound. At least she’s making him wear his “caps,” which are basically individual mouth guards for his fangs to prevent him from biting her in the heat of the moment. In other words, teeth condoms. I think this little invention was supposed to come off as ingenious but honestly I just giggled every time they were mentioned.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was seeing Rachel actually get more than one job as a runner, or a supernatural bounty hunter/private investigator. The pattern of the series thus far has centred on Rachel tackling one case per book, which has a tendency to drag out the plot and make her seem a bit slow for not figuring things out sooner. This time around she’s dealing with a few cases, chief among them her assignment working as security for…drum roll…Trent Kalamack! Yes, that’s right, the boy is back and he is still deliciously evil. Well, sort of.

Kim Harrison has finally dedicated some serious page time to developing Trent’s character, and believe me when I say that there are some epic results. I’ve got him pretty firmly slotted into the “does the wrong things for the right reasons” category of evil. With that kind of mentality it’s just a matter of time before he transitions into an anti-hero! I’m holding out hope that one day he’ll be absorbed into “the gang” and go on adventures with them, constantly mucking things up by being pragmatically evil.

For now, I’ll have to settle for the introduction of a new character who’s presence in the group is definitely going to stir up trouble in the best possible way. When Rachel rescues Ceri from Al’s clutches, she has no idea how powerful the other woman is nor does she anticipate how grateful she’ll be. The former demon familiar brings a wealth of knowledge about working or “twisting” demon curses and insider information on how to take down Al. I anticipate that Rachel will find the allure of those powerful curses to be too much to resist, despite the bad juju they’ll inevitably bring.

The only real complaint I have about EVERY WHICH WAY BUT DEAD (besides Kisten because…ew), was the serious lack of Jenks. Jenks is a pretty temperamental pixie and he has a tendency to overreact; combine that with Rachel’s proclivity for pissing people off, and it was just a matter of time before the two of them had a major tiff. The nice thing about Jenks taking a little vacation from the independent firm of “Vampiric Charms” run by Rachel, Ivy, and himself was that it gave some other characters the chance to make some pretty great quips. Jenks is usually the go-to guy for humour, but the ladies totally held their own.

Definitely the best instalment in the series so far, and I’m eager to find out what’s going to happen next. Fingers crossed for more of the new and improved Rachel! And Trent, of course. Trent is bae.

If you’re a fan of The Hollows series, which book was your favourite? If not, what long-running series have you refused to give up on despite some less than stellar instalments?

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