Review: The Turn by Kim Harrison

The Turn by Kim Harrison (The Hollows #0.1)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Gallery Books on February 7, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan’s world as they’ve never seen it before!

  

Kim Harrison revisits the much-beloved universe of The Hollows in THE TURN, the prequel to Rachel Morgan and co.’s adventures that’s sure to please long-time fans and newcomers alike. This is the story of how supernatural or Inderland society revealed itself to humanity…and the truth about the infamous tomato that started it all.

Dr. Trisk Cambri, a dark elf and a brilliant geneticist, has been working undercover in a human lab monitoring their scientific progress and keeping a lid on discoveries that could impact Inderland. Her colouring works against her in elven society and her gender (yep, we’re in the 1960’s) is seen as something to be overcome by both Inderlanders and humans alike. Needless to say, she’s got a lot to prove.

But her hard work pays off when she engineers a tomato that could basically end world hunger, on top of assisting a colleague with developing a virus that could be weaponized against the U.S.A.’s enemies. Suddenly, Inderland is very interested in Trisk and representatives from all the major species – weres, witches, vamps, and elves – decide that Trisk’s assurances aren’t enough. They’re sending in someone to double-check her work to ensure its safety and benefit for Inderland society: one Dr. Trenton Kalamack. No, not that Trent Kalamack, this guy goes by Kal. And of course, Kal is Trisk’s biggest rival and he’ll stop at nothing to bring her down, even if it means fabricating problems with her work.

Trisk and Kal narrate the majority of THE TURN and peeking inside their heads is…interesting, to say the least. They’re both totally dedicated and brilliant scientists who’re desperate for recognition, but that’s where the similarities end. While Trisk can be a bit of an ass, she’s not devoid of redeeming qualities the way Kal is. Sure, Kim Harrison tries to make him seem a bit more sympathetic by introducing an adorable pixy as his only friend (Orchid was the true star of the show) but it’s not enough. In the three years I’ve been blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a main character more motivated by self-interest than Kal. The things he does would be unbelievable coming from anyone else, but his colossally stupid decisions actually make a weird kind of sense given his motivations. He makes Trent from the first few books in The Hollows series look like an absolute peach.

Despite how much I enjoyed revisiting the world of the Hollows and diving back into Harrison’s unique brand of humour, I struggled with THE TURN at times. Characters are the most important part of a book for me, so when I’m not really feeling any of the protagonists it can be a bit tricky for me to enjoy a story. That said, it was awesome to sort of “see into the pasts” of some of my favourites from The Hollows, like elven security expert Quen. This one is more for the action lovers out there, and the plot progresses at a breakneck speed once the deadly tomato hits the streets. If you’re looking for a page-turner, you’ll have a lot of fun with this one even if you haven’t read the rest of the books in The Hollows series.

From all my griping it may seem like I didn’t enjoy THE TURN, but that’s not the case. I think my expectations were just a little too high for me to love this the way many other fans of The Hollows seem to. This may be a case of it’s not the book, it’s me. Still, I did enjoy this one and found it satisfying. After all, I’ve been curious about that damn tomato for thirteen books!

If you’re interested in The Hollows but intimidated by such a long series, THE TURN is the perfect way to try out Kim Harrison’s work.

Have you read anything by Kim Harrison? What are your thoughts on prequel books? Let me know in the comments!

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  • I love how they start to number these when authors start jumping around in time. Hallows .1. I expect to see a series sometime that is on book 2.36. Or perhaps just pi.

    • Hahaha I know, it’s pretty ridiculous. But honestly? I would read a book series instalment numbered 3.14 just for the gimmick. 😉

  • I’ve read a YA book by her that I wasn’t a fan of. I have heard really good things about her adult titles though. I love that this has a scientist in it as main characters – they are so rare! I can definitely understand how having high expectations can taint a book experience. It happens to me all the time with favorite authors. And I always need a connection with the characters to love a book. Hopefully, the next will be stronger in those aspects!

    • Honestly, I don’t think she’s a very good writer. *hides from her legions of fans* Now that said, I have read 14 of her books soooo clearly she’s got something going for her. But whatever it is, it isn’t strong writing. Hahahaha.

      More scientist protagonists, 2k17!

  • Bookworm Brandee

    I love The Hollows, Danya, and I’m really excited about The Turn. I’m sorry it didn’t all work for you but I get having high expectations of our favorite authors and it is disappointing when they don’t deliver for us. I’ll have to come back and chat once I’ve read The Turn but it’ll be awhile because I still have the last Hollows book to read. 😉 What you said about Kal though…I’m guessing he’s an extreme case but I remember being very irritated with Rachel (and Trent) when I first met them. I’m wondering if Harrison is going to go further with these characters?? Anyway, great review!

    • There are so many dedicated fans out there of The Hollows, and for the most part it seems like those who’ve read the original series enjoyed The Turn. To be quite honest, I think that this book showcased all of the problems that I had with Harrison’s writing throughout The Hollows series with few of the best parts, but hopefully it works better for you. She *definitely* goes further here!

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    This series is new to me, and I’m very curious about it – but given your description of the character of Kal, I think I might seek the other books first: the man you portrayed here would make me throw the book against a wall, and many times too! 😀 😀

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Yeah…to be completely honest you’re making a good decision, hahaha. While I have problems with Kim Harrison’s writing, I think that The Hollows books showcase the fun parts of her work much more than this one did. Kal was the worst. I wanted to punch him in the throat. 😂

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I haven;t read anything by Kim Harrison yet, and thought since this is a prequel, maybe it would be a decent chance to try her work. But maybe I’d be better off picking something else.

    • Knowing your reading tastes Lisa, if you want to read something that’ll make you rage, then this is a great choice. Otherwise, I’d look elsewhere. Hahaha.

  • Greg Hill

    I love this cover! I haven’t read Kim Harrison but it definitely sounds like an interesting world. I’m curious about this tomato. 🙂 The idea of a dark elf monitoring science to make sure they’re not discovered is a good one. And Kal sounds like a bad dude. Sorry the characters didn’t quite click, that can be an issue for me too. But it sounds like it definitely adds to the world that’s been established.

    The pixie sidekick sounds fun.

    • It’s soooo much better than the original cover art for The Hollows series. Thank goodness for the 2010s, haha. That damn tomato! *shakes fist* Kal is 100% a bad dude, even worse than the dreaded tomato. LOL.

  • I feel like I am the only one who has not tried her books

  • I haven’t read Hollows. I’ve got
    intimidated by amount of installments. I mean 13 books? I feel like I would
    never catch up. This sounds like a perfect chance to have a sample without too
    much pressure. Though I’m not a big fun of action packed books, I prefer
    character-driven stories. I think I need to think about it. Thanks for you
    helpful review, Danya!

    • OMG, I know! But I went through a very intense urban fantasy phase a couple years ago – it’s mostly petered out by this point – and for some reason 13 books seemed like a good thing rather than a deterrent, haha. Yes, I totally agree! I care a lot more about characters than plot, although it’s great if both are strong. 🙂

  • I haven’t read this series before but it does sound interesting and like something that I should try. I love this cover too so that’s appealing to me. I’ll have to try this one to see if I should get into the series. Thanks!

    • It’s such a good cover, especially for an adult urban fantasy series! UF books almost always have unfortunate cover art, haha. No problem, Di! Be prepared for incredibly frustrating characters…I’m here for you if you need to vent, hahaha.

  • I’m only at book 10 and behind in this series but really enjoy it. I’m sorry this had aa few disappointments as a whole for you. Gah, that cover sucks me in though. I think I may just catch up first but I” keep this prequel in mind as well 🙂

    • Oh you’re not that far behind at all! What’s another four books when the series is so dang long? Hahaha. This definitely wasn’t my favourite Kim Harrison, but you’re right: that cover is beautiful!

  • I always find that prequel books are hit-or-miss. Either I love seeing where the characters came from, or it ends up just not quite living up to the original

    • Exactly! Prequel stories are really hard to get right. I think I expected to like this one since it does feature some of my favourite characters from the original series, but I didn’t like the sides of them that we saw here. Sigh.

  • I keep telling myself that I’m going to read one of her books one day but I’m at a lost as to where to start! She’s written so many. I’m glad you found this satisfying at least. That’s typically what happens when we set our expectations too high. Lol.

    • Ahh the world of urban fantasy, where every series has 800 books. LOL. Yeah, dang expectations! Next time they’ll be lower, what could go wrong? 😉

  • Well, I am most certainly intrigued by this series so I may have to give The Turn a chance. If my library has a copy available, anyway. I mean, I’m never intimidated by long series, I’m more intimidated by the cost of investing. I am always a bit wary of prequels which come out after a series is finished because the expectations are high and really it can go either way. Glad to see you found it satisfying even if you didn’t love it.

    • Ohhhh man, Becky. I kind of want you to read this because I’m sure you’ll have all the same complaints as me, but you won’t be viewing them through the lens of “I liked the original series a lot” so the frustration may be even stronger. It’d make for great twitter chats, hahaha. Prequels are definitely tough — the good thing about this one is that it did answer my questions about the tomato and its role in supernaturals revealing their existence to humanity! As bizarre as that sounds…LOL.

      • See I want to read and see if I feel the same way but then I don’t know if it’ll be the same coming into the series with no idea of what’s happening. And the tomato is weird, what role does this tomato play? And why a tomato? I feel I want to read for that alone.

  • I’ve not read anything by this author! I’d not even heard of The Hollows before. High expectations are such a double-edged sword! There are few books that I go into with high expectations, and it usually doesn’t end well for me, but sometimes authors surprise me. 😀 I like that the protagonist is a science professional – protagonists in STEM is so awesome. I wish there were more engineers as protagonists, but I guess we’re too boring. 😉

    Anyway, great review, Danya! Have a lovely week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Whaaat, that’s crazy to me! I guess if you don’t read a lot of adult urban fantasy then you’d probably not hear much about her, but Kim Harrison is a pretty big name in that sub-genre. Her books are suuuper hit or miss for me, and high expectations didn’t help any. Sigh.

      Yeah, seeing a woman in STEM (particularly since this is set in the 60s) was really awesome! Hahaha engineers aren’t boring — y’all are gonna invent SkyNet, after all. 😉 Thanks Alyssa, you too!

  • Lynn Williams

    I have this one waiting to be read. I haven’t read any of the previous books so it’ll be interesting to see what I make of this one or if it encourages me to pick up the series.
    Lynn 😀

    • I think I saw you post about this in one of your weekly wrap up posts a while ago, Lynn! I’m definitely interested in hearing your thoughts on it as someone who hasn’t read the originals.

  • Lisa Loves Lit

    I’ve never read any Kim Harrison books, this cover drew me in though. Sounds like you wouldn’t suggest that I start with this one though. Great review!

    • It’s such a pretty cover, especially for urban fantasy! Honestly, no…I wouldn’t recommend this as your entry point into Kim Harrison’s work. Dead Witch Walking is a much better book, in my opinion. Thanks, Lisa!