Harrison, Kim. Ever After.

NY: Harper, 2013.

I almost hate to confess it, but this series is a guilty pleasure that I buy without even bothering to read the reviews. Ordinarily, vampire/witchcraft romances are absolutely not my thing. Authors like Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton hold zero interest for me. But I read the first book about Cincinnati witch Rachel Morgan sort of by accident and now I’m hooked.

And it appears, from gossip I’ve picked up, that this eleventh volume is getting near the end of the saga.

It’s impossible to summarize all that has gone before in a story with so many layers and twists and unexpected side-turnings. I’ll only say that Rachel, who recently discovered she was actually a day-walking demon (the only being of her kind in various important ways), seems to live with her back up against the wall. Her mere existence gets her friends constantly in trouble and tempts her enemies to do terrible things. The people she loves tend to die because of the literally bloody-minded politics she constantly finds herself involved in with dead and undead vampires, werewolves, pixies, fairies, gargoyles, and even the occasional human. And now the ever-after, the domain the demons created for themselves to escape extinction at the hands of the elves thousands of years before, is in great danger of shrinking to nothing — which would mean the end of magic in the world. And the demons are blaming Rachel for their situation, even though they know it’s all really the fault of a psychotic member of their own kind. Well, demons are known cowards. It’s all because of damage to the ley lines, and Rachel, who has capabilities other witches don’t possess, might be able to fix things. She’d better, because if she doesn’t, she’ll be killed as a sacrifice to said psychotic demon. And there’s a great deal of pain and anguish for a large number of people along the way. Even the most apparently civilized being can turn savage when pushed to it.

Harrison is very good at portraying interesting characters and very, very good at developing complex, riveting plots. But narrative prose, . . . not so much. The first couple of volumes in this series were so stilted in style and so scattershot in word-choice, it made my editorial teeth hurt. Then her style got considerably better and I thought, “Okay, she’s learning.” Now, I think probably she had hired an assistant whose job was to ruthlessly blue-pencil her drafts, and that that person has now left her employ, because all the old problems are back. Harrison needs to cut the quantity of adjectives and adverbs (and commas) she uses by two-thirds. She needs to cut her almost Henry-Jamesian sentences into two or three separate ones. She has a bad habit of having Rachel describe in First Person herself and her actions in terms that ought to be used only in Third Person. (You can say of someone, “She seemed to be worried.” You cannot have someone say of herself, “I seemed to be worried.”) Then there are sequences like this: “My motions to change my clothes grew rough. . . . I held up my linen bell-bottoms to me. . . . I buttoned the vest around me.” Here’s a couple more at random — and both from the same page: “I sent my fingers to trace the spines of the books,” and “I sent my gaze over the room to find it neat and tidy.” I mean, how clunky is that? What creative-writing teacher would allow all those personal pronouns to pass? Possibly this awkwardness won’t bother some readers — or else it will but they won’t know why. Let’s just say I keep reading this series because I enjoy the story and the players enough that I don’t mind gritting my teeth. And besides, the big climactic confrontation scene is a doozy.

Published in: on 7 October 2013 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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