White Witch, Black Curse, by Kim Harrison
March 31, 2009
In White Witch, Black Curse, Rachel and her partners team up with the FIB on a hunt for the dangerous Interlander that attacked her friend Glenn and left him for dead. It’s a difficult job, especially considering that Rachel is also trying to uphold her bargain with Al, deal with the fallout of her damaged reputation, defend her choices to her brother, evaluate the possibility of a new relationship, and face a ghost from her past, all on top of the standard level of roommate drama. Oh, and she’s also still trying to find the person responsible for the murder that’s been (rather cruelly in my opinion) left hanging since the end of For a Few Demons More.
First things first. If you’ve only been reading the Hollows novels, you need to hunt down some of the short stories published in separate anthologies before starting this one. This book directly references three different Hollows shorts. Harrison tries to give some of the necessary details, but various plot developments will seem really sudden, awkward, or confusing if you haven’t read the other material. And there’s about a million different things going on in the book already, so the last thing you want to do is struggle to get enough context for an event based on some brief recaps. The stories are (in no particular order) “Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil” from Dates From Hell, “Dirty Magic” from Hotter Than Hell (my review), and “Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel” from Holidays Are Hell (my review). Have I mentioned lately that I kind of hate it when short stories end up required reading for a series?
Okay, back to White Witch, Black Curse. Rachel’s main run in this book is an interesting one, but apart from her initial reaction to Glenn’s attack she’s really only concerned with it when she’s dragged in to help. It made the book feel too cluttered to me, that Rachel was being pulled in so many directions that she barely paid attention to one of the main plots. And I didn’t like seeing her so reluctant to face the threat.
I had been really happy about the idea of the Rachel/Ivy weirdness being settled, but apparently that hope was premature. I guess they’re going to continue being awkward at each other no matter how much I wish they’d knock it off and pay more attention to Jenks, who manages to avoid making everyone miserable despite being the one with the most serious personal issue. Marshall’s arc seemed pointless because I didn’t care enough about him as a character for a decision he made to matter, and it seemed like Rachel felt the same way. I wish there had been a little less roommate drama and a lot less Marshall in favor of more time spent on the FIB story, the ongoing murder investigation, or Rachel’s deal with Al.
Yes, I’m still moping over the absence of my second favorite character (next to Jenks, of course), but I’m glad that Rachel’s memory loss was finally addressed. I’m better with the facts of what happened now that I know the why of it, but I still think those details should have come out faster – especially before Rachel had already started to move on.
Even though this felt like an overly-busy transition novel, the series seems like it’s getting back on track for me. Pierce’s introduction was awkward even though I had read his background story, but he has a lot of long-term potential. A few subplots were more or less wrapped up, so hopefully the next book will focus on some of the remaining threads left hanging instead of going off in too many new directions.