Fiction Reviews

The Good the Bad and the Undead

(2006 UK edition) Kim Harrison, Harper Voyager 6.99, pbk, 454pp, ISBN 0-00-723611-5

This is part of a series of books previously published in the US featuring former bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who has set up an independent runner agency with her housemates Ivy and Jenks. This story is set in the present world where werewolves, vampires, witches and pixes are part of every day life and are known as Inderlanders. Rachel herself is a witch with a habit for getting into trouble at every turn, her housemate Ivy is a vampire who wants to avoid practicing (draining people of blood) and Jenks is a pixy with a wife and around fifty children.

In this instalment, Rachel is called upon to investigate the disappearance of someone's boyfriend, a witch, leading to a venture into the Inderland underworld and the murder of numerous ley line witches. This leads Rachel to being enrolled into a college course as part of her investigation but as is the nature of many events in the book, this does not go entirely to plan and when Rachel tries to make a fish her familiar, she manages to bestow the honour upon her boyfriend instead. This would be all well and good - except that it becomes apparent why witches are advised that taking humans as familiars is extremely inadvisable.

The nature of the book reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a way - as the heroine is dealing with the supernatural and trying to stay alive whilst dealing with everyday issues such as paying the rent, trying to maintain a steady relationship and taking care of her appearance. The style of narrative is very American, with US slang and terminology being used, while opinions of other characters and places are very much in evidence - witticisms and one-liners are also incorporated. The book is a little like supernatural chick-lit with its acknowledgement of emotional and romantic issues whilst managing to also take on the mantle of being an action and adventure based read. I was a little sceptical at first as to how well the supernatural elements of the novel would work, but they are incorporated effectively and not overplayed. It's a fun read and not terribly deep in terms of subject matter, and is likely to appeal to a female audience who prefer books with contemporary references.

Sue Griffiths

For a different take on the series see Tony's review of Dead Witch Walking. See also Every Which Way But Dead and A Fistful of Charms.

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