Whaddyaknow? I can like a Hollows book unreservedly and without a list of complaints. I'd forgotten what that felt like.
If you'd told me that Rachel Morgan's penultimate adventure would kick off on a golf course, I'd have told you that you were nuts. But if anyone can start trouble on a golf course, it'd be Rachel. In an interesting change of pace, the trouble that ensues really has almost nothing to do with her – sure, an exploding golf ball that practically creates a sand hazard on the course sounds like something she's responsible – but not this time. Spells and charms are going wrong (mostly in a super-sized fashion) throughout Cincinnati and the Hollows – causing injuries, inconveniences and deaths.
But wait, there's more – something's going on in town that's keeping the Master Vampires asleep, and they're not waking to feed and exert influence over their clans. Which is great if that's something you were working towards, and were prepared – like Ivy was awhile back. But these vampires aren't ready for that level of freedom and self-determination yet. Which means that you've got unstable vampires roaming the streets. Which can't be good for anyone.
This would be enough to keep any Urban Fantasy hero busy – but females in this genre have to have something going on in their personal/romantic life, too (male UF heroes frequently have that it, too – but it doesn't see as de reguerre). So looking to that front, Ellasbeth, Trent's fiancé returns; so naturally, Trent and Rachel go on a date the night before she arrives (their first and last). Everyone's favorite demons, Al and Newt, are not at all happy about how close Rachel is getting to the elf. A couple of elven religious leaders come to town to help with the malfunctioning magic – and they like Trent hanging out with the day-walking demon even less than Al and Newt do. And there's this really familiar-looking blond vampire that Rachel keeps seeing – but that can't be right, can it?.
Yeah, that's enough to keep Rachel, Ivy and Jenks busy.
Here's the best part: It's like Harrison asked herself, “How do I make ol' H. C. happy?” and then things actually happen in the book. Resolution is reached on a lot of these plots that have been ongoing for several novels (even all, or almost all, of the series). Even things I'd forgotten about get tied up. I'm not saying I'm happy because I like all the choices that the characters/Harrison made, because I'm not. But instead of another 400+ pages of Rachel (or Trent or Ivy or . . .) hemming and hawing and then not really reaching a decision on anything, these characters think about their problems, discuss solutions in a constructive manner with each other, and then act on it. They don't all lead to a happily ever after – but they lead to something. Finally.
Harrison's clearly setting the table for the last book in the series and tying up what she can – as well as delivering a pretty cool story. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to just focus on the soap-y ongoing story arcs. The stuff with the vampires and the out of control magic was great, and would've been enough to make this a compelling read. But the ongoing arcs have been such a drag on this series for so long, the fact that they weren't at all this time is leading me to focus on them.
I really don't know how to comment on the master vampire problem or the magic problem without getting into story details – but the implications of both were fascinating, and are the kind of thing that separates the Hollows from most Urban Fantasy. I'm so glad we got these situations.
For the first time in a long time, I can say I'm looking forward to seeing what Harrison does next. I have a lot more hope for her sticking the landing than I've had (even as I dread the fates of a couple of characters).