But one thing has remained constant throughout: Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan saga.
In a blog last year revolving around Black Magic Sanction, I wrote about why Kim’s Rachel Morgan novels are so captivating to such a diversity of readers...
“I attribute it to a confluence of four things: character development, pacing, sense of humor, and thematic profundity…
Black Magic Sanction is 487 pages – that’s a thick read. There’s a lot going on. But because of Kim’s writing style, which is as fluid as it is frenetic, this novel is an amazingly fast read. Just try putting it down after you start reading it – I dare you.
And like the porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Kim’s sense of humor is just right – not too cheesy and not too offensive – especially when it comes to Jenks. He has one-liners like this throughout every book: “This is so sweet, I think I’m going to barf fairy farts” and “Let me out…or I’m going to use your nuts for a beanbag chair!” And even when a murderous villain is screaming at Rachel, Kim finds a way to infuse that subtle humor into the situation. Brooke, a witch in a coven who wants Kim dead and/or lobotomized in the worst way, calls her a “filthy demon sexpot.”
Lastly is the thematic power. To readers who don’t read paranormal fantasy and look upon these Rachel Morgan novels as mindless literary escapism I say this: I agree. They are literary escapism – in fact, they’re some of the best literary escapism around. But there is a real emotional depth and existential weight to these novels – Rachel’s search for love and acceptance and her struggle to find her place in the world is simultaneously heartrending and heartening.”
Rachel to Trent: “If you ever touch me again… I will explode your ‘nads.”
After nine novels, this series is still getting better – an absolutely phenomenal achievement.
How many series do you know of that are still fresh and exciting after nine novels?
A large percentage of paranormal fantasy sagas (any fiction sagas, for that matter) lose their steam after a handful of books – the main characters become stagnant, the storylines formulaic, the narrative uninspiring – but after nine novels, I’m more in love with Kim’s characters (Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, Bis, etc.) than ever before. Opening up Pale Demon was like coming home to family. Yeah, I know – it sounds cheesy but it’s true. Kim has created a world that readers enjoy visiting, lovingly developed characters that readers feel deeply connected to.
“Kim Harrison's new saga – powered by her intelligently crafted characters and tightly knit plotlines – will undoubtedly find a place of its own in this burgeoning hybrid genre that blurs the lines between fantasy, mystery, horror, and romance.”
I didn’t know just how right I was!
In the seven years since Dead Witch Walking was released, Kim has published eight more Rachel Morgan novels and a handful of related short stories in anthologies like Dates from Hell, Holidays Are Hell and Unbound. In those few years, she has played an integral role in shaping and directing this paranormal fantasy evolution/revolution.
While paranormal fantasy sagas have come and gone, the Rachel Morgan novels have gotten better and better and better. Kim Harrison – and her Hollows saga – has been a true vanguard for paranormal fantasy…
“I think the reason that the story keeps getting stronger is two-fold. First, I'm still interested in writing about Rachel. When an author gets tired of a situation or characters, the writing suffers, and the reader can tell. I'm not there yet, but I can feel the urging in me to want to write a different way, a shift in style or technique that I can't do in the Hollows framework. That's the reason that I'm planning on ending the series at 12-13. I want to keep growing as a crafter of stories, and I need to break from the Hollows to do it. I've ended series before, and I'm not afraid to start with a beautiful blank page of possibilities. The next series might be Hollows related, it might not. I've got time to fall in love again.
But the main reason I think that the story keeps growing is that Rachel is. I'm very much a character-oriented writer, and if my main character and supporting characters are not changing, I'm not doing something right. Rachel has continued to gain power as the series progresses, but she's also become more vulnerable. The balance has been maintained, and that keeps her on her toes and me excited about getting to the keyboard every morning. I've written the 11th book at rough draft, and I still don't know exactly what Rachel's happy ending will be. I can't wait to find it.”
And, just as importantly, I want to see where Kim goes next!
So, with the end of the Hollows in sight, I feel compelled to write Kim Harrison – and Rachel Morgan – a love letter. Thank you for writing such an entertaining and enlightening series. Through your words, you’ve created a world and a cast of characters that have profoundly touched millions of readers’ hearts – and I think I speak for all of them when I say Rach and Ivy and Jenks and even Trent and Al will be sorely missed…
But until that very last Rachel Morgan book hits the shelves, I’ll most definitely be in a Hollows state of mind…
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.