Harrison, Kim. The Undead Pool.

NY: Harper, 2014.

I don’t ordinarily read vampire and werewolf books, but I read the first one in this hugely popular series a decade ago on a friend’s recommendation and got hooked almost by accident. Now it’s a guilty pleasure — now matter how much the author’s stylistic ineptitude continues to annoy me. I had also heard suggestions that Harrison was on the way to wrapping things up, and the flap copy says this twelfth volume is the “penultimate book,” so I guess that’s going to be it.

Rachel Morgan, an earth witch, has come a long way, from a fumble-spelled ex-agent for the non-human equivalent of the FBI setting up on her own as a private eye, to a day-walking demon, titular female alpha of a were pack, and savior of the world — or at least Cincinnati — several times over. Her partners are Ivy Tamwood, a not-yet-undead vampire with whom she has had an extremely complicated personal relationship, and Jenks, a four-inch-high pixie with a foul mouth and a great deal of attitude. Trent Kalamack, a multimillionaire elf who runs a large part of the city’s economy, was once her despised nemesis, but he has changed, too, and their relationship is, . . . um, . . . becoming much closer. There are a large number of other players as well, but they’ve been developing for twelve books now, so you’ll just have to read those for all the back-story.

The specifics of the plot this time involve an energy being whom the elves long ago deified as “the Goddess,” and who is under attack by a splinter group of Trent’s species for their own ends. She’s made up of thoughts (“mystics”) which can be used to force the master vampires (who run the city’s underside) to sleep until they starve to death for lack of aura. The side effects, though, are causing waves of uncontrolled magic to sweep across Cincinnati, resulting in numerous deaths and bringing about near social collapse. Naturally, Rachel is involved, though it isn’t entirely her fault this time, and she and Trent combine forces to try to get the genie back in the bottle. There are also numerous side plots involving Trent’s fiancée and custody of their daughter (he’s only engaged to her for political reasons), Rachel’s tutelage by Al, the demon in the ever-after with whom she’s been uneasily associated for some time, and David, the were insurance adjustor whose alpha she is (at least on paper).

Harrison has become very good at convoluted plots and at painting her characters in half a dozen dimensions, and that makes the books worth reading. Because her continuing inability to put together a paragraph that wouldn’t cause an English teacher to gnash his teeth is extremely annoying. How can someone with a dozen commercially successful novels to her credit not have figured out verb tenses and the proper use of verbal nouns by now? How can she continue to have Rachel, the first-person narrator, describe her own actions and reactions as if she were speaking of someone in the third person? Why has she not been assigned a full-time copyeditor? I mean, she’s not a beginner any longer. (*sigh*) Well, I enjoy the stories and the characters, so I guess I’ll continue to suffer. But I’ll definitely be waiting for that thirteenth and final volume.

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Published in: on 12 August 2014 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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