Trouble and toil for Rachel


In a continuation of the Hollows series, there’s a little matter of the big hole in the Ever After.

Taking its title from the parallel universe where most of the action takes place, Kim Harrison’s 11th Hollows novel has the author using a line most fantasy/sci-fi fans associate with Douglas Adams — “Don’t Panic!” — to reassure puzzled readers. Blame the Brothers Grimm, Andrew Lang or Walt Disney, but most of us grew up with a strong association between the phrase “Ever After” (preferably “Happily Ever After”) and the end of a story. Not so in this case. Harrison quickly points out that there are two more books planned for the series. And this book is not a fairy tale, and protagonist Rachel Morgan is definitely not a princess.

In Ever After, Rachel is being framed. OK, maybe she did tear a teensy-weensy little hole in the Ever After, causing it to leak magic and shrink slowly into oblivion. But now someone has turned that hole into a gaping rent, and Rachel is being blamed for the Ever After diminishing visibly every day. The demons who live there think the solution is simple: kill Rachel and the hole created by her magic seals itself. Rachel thinks she just needs a little time to fix the damage — as soon as she figures out how. Good thing the demons like her. Sort of.

Harrison has always used her ongoing urban fantasy series to explore human issues; witches have boyfriend problems, vampires have crises of identity and pixies worry about their kids. Told from the first-person perspective of Rachel, a bounty-hunting witch, the series has primarily followed her spectacularly bumpy road of self-discovery and maturity. Rachel’s struggles often mirror our own. In a world where terrorist attacks and senseless shooting sprees have us debating vengeance vs. forgiveness, food for thought is worth hearing wherever it comes from — even from a fictional elf with blood (and regret) on his own hands. As he tells Rachel, in one of the book’s more poignant scenes: “I want you to keep what you can of the person you want to be. Don’t sacrifice it for this.

“ ‘Don’t let your desire for revenge give him the power to make you what you don’t want to be.’

“ ‘It’s hard,’ I said, and the demons around me began to shuffle, eager to be gone.

“But he smiled and stuck a strand of hair behind my ear. ‘Of course it is. If it was easy, everyone would do it.’ ”

The story isn’t over, but the stage is being set for the conclusion of the series. No character reaches the end of the novel unchanged, and the idea that growing up is hard mentally and emotionally has become a prevalent recurring theme. But Harrison isn’t turning preachy. The action is tense and thrilling, and how Rachel will escape her various troubles is never easy to predict. Will she get to put a “happily” in front of her ever after? We’ll find out all too soon.

John Williford is a writer in Miami.

Read more Books stories from the Miami Herald

  • What are you reading now?

    “I just finished A. Scott Berg’s biography of Woodrow Wilson, which was excellent. Now I’m into Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Bully Pulpit. They both fill in a big hole in American history for me.”

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Updike.</span> Adam Begley. Harper. 576 pages. $29.99.


    Biography offers an enlightening view of John Updike’s work

    Biography offers an enlightening view of his work

 <span class="cutline_leadin">A TRUST BETRAYED:</span> The Untold Story of Camp Lejeune and the Poisoning of Generations of Marines and Their Families. Mike Magner. Da Capo. 299 pages. $27.50.


    Tiny victims of a conspiracy of silence

    One of the saddest places in America has to be the humble stretch of ground at a Jacksonville, N.C., cemetery called “Baby Heaven.” Paul Stasiak, a U.S. Marine, and his wife, Darrell, buried their stillborn daughter, Eileen Marie, there in September 1966.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category