Note: Some possible plot spoilers from previous books in this review.
Rachel Morgan has been accused of practicing black magic and shunned as a witch. She has three days to make it to San Francisco, where the annual witches conference is meeting, to plead her case and have her shunning overturned or be forced to the ever-after forever. Blacklisted from flying, Rachel must team up with Trent Kalamack to make it to the West Coast in time. However Trent is on a quest of his own, and trust is little afforded between these two. With witches, elves and demons on the hunt, Rachel, Trent and her team are in a race against death, and that is even before the sentence is carried out.
I have read all of Kim Harrison's Hollows series from the beginning. Pale Demon is the ninth book of the series. Rachel Morgan has developed a lot since her days being a runner for the Inderland Bureau Services, but her past is coming to catch her. This is mostly due to the elf that is traveling with her, Trent. Having known her since childhood, and having fathers that did some unknown experiments on Rachel to ensure her survival, Trent now needs Rachel as part of his quest, plus she needs to still lift the familiar curse that she placed on him. With an uneasy truce and 3,000 miles to travel, Trent and Rachel, along with Ivy and Jenks, cross the country on their own quests for validation.
Rachel has been working through a lot of relationship issues these past books, and it was good to see this one start to lay the final path stones down for some of them. Kisten, Ivy, Pierce, Trent and even Al are all spindled through Rachel's heart and mind at one point or another through the book, and Rachel's issues with love and connection finally start to slip into place as she comes to terms with her powers in both black magic and as a possible demon.
Harrison draws a vivid landscape for her readers: whether traveling across the United States or through the ever after, and the action doesn't stop for a moment in Pale Demon. I had a lot of trouble putting it down because I had to see what was going to happen next, and every time I thought Rachel could go no further, she did. There are enough twists leading to final pages to keep the reader guessing exactly what the results are going to be. Rachel both wins and loses in this story and her world is laid wide open for the next book.
With plenty of action and suspense, strong characters and exciting storyline, I consider Pale Demon one of the strongest books in the Hollows series so far. Harrison brings back the Rachel Morgan of old, and I am looking forward to seeing what she does next!
Title: Pale Demon (The Hollows, #9)
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date: February 2011
Read: NetGalley ebook