White Witch, Black Curse
Published 2009 504 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Some wounds take time to heal . . . and some scars never fade.
Rachel Morgan, kick-ass witch and bounty hunter, has taken her fair share of hits, and has broken lines she swore she would never cross. But when her lover was murdered, it left a deeper wound than Rachel ever imagined, and now she won't rest until his death is solved… and avenged. Whatever the cost.
Yet the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and when a new predator moves to the apex of the Inderlander food chain, Rachel's past comes back to haunt her.
White Witch, Black Curse is the seventh full length novel in Kim Harrison’s popular Rachel Morgan/Hollows urban fantasy series. White Witch, Black Curse drops readers straight into the action, as the story opens with Rachel’s unsuccessful attempt at therapy to remember who killed her lover - with little time available for filling in the hugely complex back story it is necessary for readers to have read the previous novels in this series before starting this one.
In fact, since events in this novel tie directly back to a couple of Kim Harrison’s earlier novellas (Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil in the Dates From Hell anthology and Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel in the Holidays Are Hell anthology) completists may have the back story advantage here. Still, the author hasn’t assumed that everyone will have read the novellas and these past events and characters are seamlessly integrated into the current timeline.
Kim Harrison’s Hollows novels are some of the best in the dark urban fantasy genre. Original mythology, passionate characters and constant action - combined with quality writing - ensure that they stand out from an increasingly crowded field.
White Witch, Black Curse is no different in this respect to previous novels – it delivers a stream of fast paced action while maintaining readers’ interest in the long running relationship saga between Rachel and Ivy, her living vampire housemate. And while Rachel may have learnt to be more cautious a couple of novels ago, some things remain constant. Al (the demon Rachel is tied to) sums it up best when he says, “Watching Rachel work is a wonder of one catastrophe after another.”
The plotline of White Witch, Black Curse involves tagging a rogue banshee – this is a dangerous job for Rachel since banshees are apex predators. Feeding on emotions they can kill by a single touch as they suck away the auras of their victims. The story is a long running adventure of banshee sighting quickly followed by banshee escape and this makes the White Witch, Black Curse plotline seem less complex than some of the previous stories in this series.
This plotline combined with the wrapping up of a couple of characters and old storylines plus the introduction of a new piece of “Rachel Candy” gives White Witch, Black Curse something of a transitional feel. This inbetweener vibe may not be to the taste of some fans (personally, I loved it!) but after seven books the series was perhaps due for a pause and regroup.
Major questions still remain to be resolved such as will Rachel manage to save the souls of the undead vampires (Ivy’s in particular) and where will Rachel’s journey of self-discovery end? After all, she already knows that she’s not entirely a witch anymore… When you throw Ivy and Rachel’s sometimes uncomfortable relationship into the mix there is plenty of content to fill not just this book but keep this series running for many more books to come.
Original fantasy and madcap magic mayhem make White Witch, Black Curse recommended reading for fantasy and vampire fans alike.
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