The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (Hollows #2)

good-bad-undeadby Kim Harrison

ISBN 9780060572976

“Maybe if I didn’t say anything about what happened, we could get back to the way we were. Ignoring a problem was a perfectly acceptable way to deal with it, as long as both people agree never to bring it up again.”

Rachel Morgan has gotten out from under the IS death threat that resulted from breaking her contract, and has been running her own agency for a few months, along with her partners Jenks and Ivy. Money is still tight, so Rachel is grateful when Captain Edden calls her in to consult on a missing person’s case for the FIB. It quickly becomes clear that the missing warlock is connected to the serial murders of the witch hunter, a killer who has had Cincinnati’s Inderlander population edge for months. When Rachel discovers that all of the victims have a connection to Trent Kalamack, she thinks she might finally get a second shot at putting the councilman behind bars, but in order to do so, she may need to draw on the very ley line magic she is so suspicious of, putting her soul at risk in the bargain.

In the first book in the Hollows series, Dead Witch Walking, Rachel is basically on the run, struggling to stay alive under a death threat. We don’t learn much about her past, so it is great to see Kim Harrison delve into this more with The Good, the Bad, and the Undead. We meet Rachel’s mother, and learn more about her father’s connection to Trent Kalamack, as well as some details about her childhood. Trent also becomes a more rounded character, and he is shaping up to be an intriguing, multi-faceted antagonist with understandable motivations rather than a one-dimensional villain.

If Rachel and Trent make some interesting progress, the interactions between Rachel and Ivy begin to border on the repetitive. While the tense character dynamic was intriguing in Dead Witch Walking, it goes a bit over the top in The Good, the Bad, and the Undead. Almost every scene featuring both characters turns into Ivy jumping Rachel and almost biting her. Instead of the growth I was hoping for, their partnership has experienced a fairly serious, albeit inevitable, setback, and one which I wasn’t expecting to happen so early in the series. Hopefully in the later books we will get to see Rachel and Ivy really work together on a case, so that there is more to their relationship than trying to figure out how to live together without killing one another.

As in Dead Witch Walking, the writing itself is a little rough. There are numerous basic spelling and grammar errors, and Harrison continues to use awkward turns of phrase. When you have to read a sentence three times to figure out what the author is trying to say, it understandably detracts from the story’s forward momentum. Harrison has created an intriguing world, and knows how to write a rollicking plot-line, but the numerous errors in grammar, spelling, and continuity distract from the story in a fairly substantial way. Others have compared Harrison to urban fantasy greats, such as Patricia Briggs, but for me, this series just isn’t there yet. I’m willing to give it another book or two to get going, but I’m still not committed to finishing the series.

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