The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (The Hollows book2) by Kim Harrison.

Stars: 4.5 out of 5.

Rachel Morgan is back! She managed to survive breaking her contract with I.S. and even paid off her debt so there is no more death contract on her head. And she has blackmail material to keep Trent Kalamack from eliminating her. So life should be pretty good for her now, right? Wrong.

Being self-employed is not exactly synonym of job security, and Rachel struggles to make ends meet and come up with her part of the rent money each month. Add to that her uneasy cohabitation with Ivy, who is trying very hard to fight against her living vampire instincts and not claim Rachel as her shadow, because she values the trust and friendship the witch gives her more than getting a live-in blood donor. Especially since Ivy has been off blood for over three years and tries to stay that way. Not an easy thing to do when the scar Rachel was left with after the demon attack in book 1 leaves her vulnerable to vampire pheromones as well as telegraphs to all vamps in the vamps in the vicinity that she is unclaimed…

On top of that, Rachel still owes that demon a debt for saving her life (albeit reluctantly) and that he is sure to come claim it sooner rather than later, and you can see that her life is just as complicated as it was in the first book. So when FIB wants her to consult on a missing person’s case, Rachel is less than thrilled at first… until she discovers that the case might be linked to Trent Kalamack. An opportunity to get back at Kalamack for all he had done to her in book 1 is not something Rachel can pass on.

I absolutely love Rachel. She is capable without being a superwoman. She is funny and sassy, but manages to land herself in ridiculous situation from time to time. But most importantly, she has heart. I love how she grew to care for the rag-tag little family of friends she lives with: a living vampire in denial of her nature and desperately trying to stay off blood, an opinionated pixie with a very large family, and a human  dabbling in magics he has no business dabbling in. Rachel might gripe about their antics and their intrusions into her privacy, but she is also fiercely protective of them and doesn’t hesitate to put their safety above her own.

Some readers complained that Rachel often lets her mouth get the best of her, but I find even that endearing. She is a hot head with a tendency to fly off the handle when angry, but that’s part of who she is. And her big mouth and quick temper land her in hot water more than once in this book.

We also learn a bit more about this fascinating world. It came as a surprise to me that while vampires and weres were originally humans transformed by the lycanthropy and vampire viruses, witches are a completely different species. In fact, unlike weres and vamps, they can’t even have children with humans. Witches are thought to have originated from the demon world and migrated to our world some five thousand years ago along with the elves, hence the animosity between demons and witches.

We also learn a lot more about vampires and the difference between a living and an undead vampire, as well as the intricacies of power and domination between undead vampire and his / her living vamp scions and their human scions / shadows. And we learn more about witches and the difference between earth witches and ley line witches. And  we get some surprising insights into Rachel’s past and her ties to Trent Kalamack!

The plot is intense and fast-paced as well. It kept me turning the pages and screaming, “More please!” when I arrived to the end. Needless to say, I’ve already picked up book 3!

So why did I only put 4.5 stars then? Same problem as book 1 – I can’t stand Rachel’s boyfriend Nick, but he got even more obnoxious in this book. He was just the goodie two shoes boyfriend in book one, but here he showed his reckless side as well. He continues to summon a demon and deal with him even after Rachel reminds him how dangerous that is and that he is slowly losing his soul to him, one little bargain at a time. As a human, Nick is obviously in over his head, yet he insists that he is in no danger, that it’s all gonna be just fine… Yet he flips out and withdraws from Rachel after a certain scene at the end of the book. This reaction showed me that he isn’t a good man, but just a coward. Rant over.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this series for anyone who likes urban fantasy. If you enjoyed Kate Daniels or October Daye series, the Hollows are definitely for you!

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