The Good, The Bad, and The Undead (The Hollows #2)
by Kim Harrison
Book Reaction (not a full review)
Somebody's killing ley line witches, which is probably not a good thing, so the FIB hires Rachel to investigate, despite the fact that even she knows that she has absolutely no aptitude for detective work. Rachel still has her demon-mark, her boyfriend is dabbling in demon magic, the demon is lurking around and playing the Generically British Evil Tempter, and Trent is behaving even more suspiciously than usual.
I'm still enjoying these books, although I think a lot of it has to do with Marguerite Gavin's spirited narration and pleasant voice. Harrison's prose isn't awful, although some odd phrasing led me to wonder if she was a non-native speaker (she isn't). I'm not fond of the Instant Synonym Replay or the odd phrases such as "a smile crossed me" or "a frown crossed him." Unless Rachel's legs and torso start warping every time she grins, the smile is crossing her lips or her face, not her entire body.
I'm still really enjoying the worldbuilding. Intriguingly, apparently society really did crumble, and the term "serf" is not hyperbole. I was a little disappointed to see a promising plot arc closed so quickly, even though several new ones have been created. In fact, Rachel's newly-retconned backstory make me suspect that she's going to turn into a Chosen One. There's also a certain amount of series continuity error. For one thing, Harrison seems to be backpedaling and turning Trent into a Misunderstood But Ultimately Redeemable Bad Boy. Somewhere between the last book and this one, interactions with demons became commonplace enough that they teach classes in it and demon marks are easily recognized, which contradicts the whole "no demons have been seen since the Turn" bit of the last book.
My issues from the last book have only been amplified here. As with any vamp-oriented universe, there's a weirdly glamorized portrayal of rape, but in this case, Harrison also continues to pile on the victim-shaming. At one point, Rachel fights back aggressively during a sparring session, triggering Ivy's vamp mode. Everyone's reaction is to suggest that Rachel must really "want it" because she's so obviously "asking for it." It's Rachel who is blamed and Rachel who ends up apologizing. By the same logic, if a woman contradicts her drunken husband, she must really want to be beaten and raped into submission, so it's all her fault, right?
Overall, even if I'm not thrilled by the vamp aspect, I'm definitely enjoying the series--and the narration--enough to try out the next book.