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Black Magic Sanction (Rachel Morgan, Book 8) Hardcover – February 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The eighth bewitching but overly dense Hollows adventure (after 2009's White Witch, Black Curse) updates the travails of Rachel Morgan, delectable magical jack of all trades. Having recently learned that Rachel is a witch-born demon whose children would be demons, a white magic coven is shunning her and accusing her of black magic. They offer her a terrible choice: sterilization or imprisonment in Alcatraz. Trent Kalamack, drug lord and elf in hiding, offers to get the coven off her back, but her double-crossing ex-rat ex-boyfriend, Nick, shows up and lands her in more hot water. As Rachel battles those she thought were on her side, her survival depends on a paranormal cornucopia of elves, demons, vampires, gargoyles, pixies, and even a leprechaun. This thrill ride celebrates the can-do spirit of one of urban fantasy's most charming witches. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The current high tide of flip, hyperactive supernatural fiction has lifted Harrison’s Hollows novels about young, lovely, athletic witch Rachel Morgan onto best-seller lists along with similar series by Kelly Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, and Patricia Briggs. In her eighth outing, Rachel is still learning the ropes as far as her powers go. In the first chapter, she’s nearly seized by a lunatic demon. In the second, she has a blowout in a grocery store with a member of the coven of moral and ethical standards, who tries to take her directly to a judicial meeting concerned with her conduct. The third chapter is a kind of breather. During the rest of the yarn, Rachel bounces or gets bounced from one ouchy captivity or near-captivity situation to another, and by the end, it has been firmly established that she ain’t no ordinary witch; heck, she can hop cross-country in broad daylight! She can also dish it out and take it, verbally as well as physically. Lacking any plot, this, uh, adventure depends on the latter ability, on several other characters’ parts besides Rachel’s, to keep on keepin’ on. If it were filthier than it is (sorry, romance fans, no sex for Rachel), it might be amusing in the manner of early John Waters flicks (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble). Consider it a for-fans-only volume. --Ray Olson
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If the writing wasn't so entertaining, I would probably have given up on this series. But the books are truly a fun read. Just don't expect Rachel Morgan to ever make sense, empathize with anyone else, or keep her mouth shut when it might save her and her friends from a world of hurt. Then again, I'm not reading the very last book yet (almost but not quite there), so until I read the final installment, I can't say for sure that Rachel never grows up. At least at this point, I can still hope that it may happen. Maybe...
The best part, emotionally, was the end with Trent. The rest of the book lacked the emotional pull that normally keeps me hooked to the pages of this series. I didn't LOL and I wasn't rooting for the characters. I was bored with Nick showing up, singing the same old song. And I guess I'm not seeing as much growth in Rachel as a character. I already bought the next book in this series so I'm going to try it out. But I don't hold out much hope for it sweeping me off my feet.
In this latest installment of the adventures of Rachel Morgan, witch, demon, runner, bounty hunter, et al, our heroine is being threatened by the high coven due to her unusual heritage and ability to do black magic. There is the same push-me-pull-you sexual tension between her and Trent, an elf who sometimes seems to hate her but is always there when Rachel needs him. Nick, a traitorous ex-boyfriend re-emerges, true to form, and we lose a loved one.
Black Magic Sanction is packed with the high energy adventure that we're accustomed to from Harrison, but this book in the Hollows series was a little lengthy to this reader. Kim Harrison is dead-on with her character development, but this story seemed to have a little too much adventure merely for entertainment's sake rather than contributing to the plot line. That being said, I would still give this book 3.5 stars due to it being an all-around fun read.
The narrative runs readers in circles. Rachel is dealing with the same problems time and time again, and never gains any grounds. The story itself jerks the reader from one place to another to another, and very little is actually accomplished or developed. Characters pop in and out seemingly at random, with very little rhyme or reason.
The most irritating aspect of this book is that Rachel herself has become stagnant. She's swamped by the same emotional and social difficulties that are introduced early in the series, and her inability to progress is the most exhausting aspect of the narrative.
However, a major character shift takes place around page 330 or so, and development truly begins. The final 160 pages move quickly, and Rachel herself seems to come alive again. Progress takes place in typical Harrison fashion, and the conclusion of the story is as successful as the beginning is tedious.