Pale Demon (The Hollows, Book 9)

Pale Demon - Kim Harrison I enjoy urban and dark fantasy, particularly those part of a series. I particularly like that they often feature strong female protagonists in the Buffy tradition. Recently I was jonesing for another good series of that kind--one cannot live on Kelley Armstrong and Charlaine Harris alone, and for me LK Hamilton has long jumped the shark. I tried about a dozen in that vein, including reading books by Carrie Vaughan, Patricia Briggs, Sherrilyn Kenyon, LA Banks and JR Ward. Rachel Morgan in Harrison's Dead Witch Walking, the first in the Hollows series, stood out for me among that crowd. So when the ninth book in the series, Pale Demon became available in LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Giveaway, I was happy to snag a copy. In particular, I liked the theme of friendship in the first book. In so much of urban fantasy, it's the romantic relationships that are to the fore, but I don't see as often strong ties of friendship or family. I'd say the theme of friendship is all the more important in this ninth volume of the series, by which time Jenks the pixy and Ivy the "living vampire" have become more than friends to Rachel--they're family; I still find that among the most appealing element in this book. I'd say actually I find the romantic element among the weaker parts. Partly, that's because Rachel does come dangerously close to a Mary Sue in that area. I count two demons, an elf, a witch and a vampire in this book pressing a kiss on her and hints that four out of the five are in love with Rachel or close to getting there. Partly that's because I'm not sure what to make of bad boy Trent and the developments between him and Rachel. That Mary Sue aspect might have seemed more over the top because I've skipped a lot between that first and latest book. I haven't read the others, and maybe if I had the story would have more impact and I would have rated this novel more highly. It certainly isn't a standalone. There are a lot of references to past events that are spoilers for the past books and a very intricate world and magical system is already well-established by the time we reach Pale Demon, so if you haven't read the other books, I'd go back and read them first. I did enjoy the book. I liked the sense of humor coming through Rachel's first person voice and the non-stop action as Rachel, on a road trip from Cincinnati to San Francisco with the elf Trent, pixy Jenks, vampire Ivy dodge and battle elven assassins and demons. Enough to go back and fill the gaps with the other books? Maybe. Pale Demon didn't make that a priority for me, but did solidify this is among the strongest and most imaginative urban fantasy series still in progress. I should mention I saw quite a few typos in the edition I read--but this is a reviewer's copy--hopefully that will be corrected in the editions released for sale. (The copy also had pages falling out on one read despite careful handling.)