Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Fistful of Charms - review

paperback coverAuthor: Kim Harrison

First Released: 2006

The Blurb

“There’s no rest for the wicked, even when the taint on your soul isn’t your fault.

“It would be wise for witch and bounty hunter, Rachel Morgan, to keep a low profile right now. Her new reputation for the dark arts has piqued the interest of Cincinnati’s night-prowlers, who despise her and long to bring an end to her interference, one way or another. Nevertheless, Rachel must risk exposure. Her ex-boyfriend, Nick, has stolen a priceless Were artefact, and, as tempting as it may be to let the Weres him apart
(sic), Rachel feels obliged to attempt a rescue.

“But other sinister forces also covert the relic Nick has hidden. Some who desire it so badly they will take the city – and everyone in it – apart to wield its frightening power.”

The Review

I’ve got to start by saying, don’t you just love it when a blurb only pays a slight resemblance to the book you have just read! The gist is there but it doesn't really describe the base story that I read. This is the fourth book of the Rachel Morgan series, so I do not want to give too much away. The books are, primarily, set around the Cincinnati area. The basic premise was that inderlanders (made up of such creatures as Were creatures, vampires, pixies, fairies and witches) have been around human’s for centuries, hidden from sight.

Unfortunately genetic modification of tomatoes led to a virus that wiped out the vast majority of humans (and has left humans with paranoia about both genetic manipulation and tomatoes) and the inderlanders found themselves in the majority and went public. There is a mystery surrounding elves, a species that seems to have died out and demons also play a role in the novels.

Rachel Morgan is a witch and a private bounty hunter for a company called vampiric charms made up of herself, Ivy the living vampire and Jenks the Pixie. This is, of course, one of the many multi-creature books that have started to appear over the last few years.

The books are written in first person, from Rachel’s viewpoint but, of course, we are primarily interested here in the vampiric element. Vampires are made up of two types, living vampires (who are the children of two live vampires) and dead vampires (the true undead). Hence when threatening a living vampire you wouldn’t say I’ll kill you but I’ll kill you twice.

The vampires produce pheromones that attract their pray, the dead vampires have lost their souls. They have heightened senses, strength and speed (the dead vampires more so than the living). The living vampires can walk in the sun, the dead vampires have traditional reactions to such things as sunlight - both types dislike the smell of cloves.

Vampirism is a type of virus and it can infect and turn humans. Other Inderlander species cannot be turned but the virus (with some magic) can bind them to a specific vampire and a bite can make you susceptible to vampiric attention (of either the one you are bound to or, if you are unclaimed, all vampires).

Through the series there have been some nice vampiric moments and lore, such as never mix your scent with that of a vampire as it drives them into a frenzy of bloodlust and acts, essentially, as a sexual come-on to them.

This book itself moves out of Cincinnati for most of the novel and is very werewolf orientated, but nevertheless has some good vampiric moments, including the illegal euthanasia of a very ill living vampire in order to allow him to become a dead vampire without loosing his life insurance because of suicide.

A great story, with lots of clever ideas this is a must read for fans of the series. The writing style is strong, and I am not the biggest fan of first person prose - much prefering to read third person. The characters are complex - though perhaps a little overly angst ridden at times and those complexities have built over the series. I also love the rules and laws that society have introduced around dealing with humans and Inderlanders, they feel right.

7.5 out of 10.

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