Customer Reviews: The Hollows Insider: New fiction, facts, maps, murders, and more in the world of Rachel Morgan
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on October 25, 2011
In April 2004 Kim Harrison launched The Hollows series with the award winning Dead Witch Walking. There are currently nine novels in print with the 10th novel arriving in February 2012. The New York Times bestselling author will end The Hollows series with a 12th or possibly 13th novel.

From the first page to the last, it is clear that Kim Harrison put the same tender loving care into this Hollows guide as she does her web site. Clearly, Harrison is still having fun with The Hollows series.

The Hollows Insider is a gorgeous glossy compendium. There are lots of colorful documents from the Hollows Gazette, Inderland Security and Kalamack Industries - everything from birth certificates to expense reports to wedding invitations. There are also glossy black and white illustrations and photos throughout the book. (Fun Fact: The pictures in the Hollows Gazette articles were submitted by readers to the author for inclusion.)

Each chapter starts with a Kalamack Interoffice memo, followed by an entry from Devin Crossman's Journal. After these two mainstays, the chapters vary in content, showing supporting documents from Crossman explaining why Rachel Morgan is a menace to society. At the end of each chapter is an issue of the Hollows Gazette and another Kalamack Interoffice memo:

Chapter 1 - Inderland Security Internal profiles on everything from Banshees to Witches and Warlocks; Hollows Gazette April 5, 2006

Chapter 2 - Church Maps, Bairn's Article and Death Certificate, Rachel's Treaties, Internal Fact Sheets on Inderland Security, Federal Inderland Bureau; Character Descriptions of Rachel Morgan, Ivy Tamwood, Jenks, Keasley, Kisten Felps; Hollows Gazette Internal Fact Sheets on Trenton Kalamack, Captain Edden and Piscary; Hollows Gazette October 4, 2006

Chapter 3 - Vampire Charms Yellow Pages Ad, Earth Magic, Ley Line Magic, JOLLS - The Journal of Ley Line Studies, Hollows Gazette October December 16, 2006

Chapter 4 - Betty Bob's Recipes, Character Descriptions of Ceridwen Dulciate, Dorothy Claymore Simmer and Nick Sparagmos; Hollows Gazette May 31, 2007

Chapter 5 - Kisten Phelp's Death, Trenton A. Kalamack's Arrest, Kalamack/Withon Wedding Announcement, United Were Registry, Hollows Gazette July 30, 2007

Chapter 6 - Spells, Summoning a Demon, 101 Earth Charms for Home and Office, Incantation to Bind a Familiar, Pentagrams and their associated uses, Takata's Lyrics, Hollows Gazette November 6, 2007

Chapter 7 -Hand Drawn Maps - Cincinnati/The Hollows/Cincinnati Outskirts; Timeline, Character Descriptions - Bis, Marshal, Godian Nathaniel Pierce; full color Witch Weekly Solstice Issue December 2008, Hollows Gazette January 2, 2008

Chapter 8 - Demons - What they can and cannot do, Demon Curses, Hollows Gazette April 16, 2008

Chapter 9 - Winnie Gradenko's Letter, The Hollows Gazette June 20, 2008

While I love every word, illustration and photo, my favorite part of the Hollows Insider is the Witch Weekly Happy Solstice Issue - December 2008. It is hard not to crack a wicked smile reading these articles:

- 3 Wicked and Wonderful Brews for the New Year
- 10 Signs that you are in The Hollows
- 10 Signs your Room Mate is practicing the Dark Arts
- Interview with the Vampire Dating Guide Author Rynn Cormel
- Tunes to get your toes tapping
- `Twas the Night before Solstice

I cannot thank the author enough for taking time to create this beautifully illustrated guide to The Hollows universe - including the glow in the dark cover!

Diehard Rachel Morgan fans will love it.
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I don't usually seek out Insider's Guides... even for the series that I like. Most of the time, they are just a rehash of information we already know. But I think I would read a book about Rachel Morgan doing her laundry. And like it. So when I was presented the opportunity to get my hands on this book, there was no question that I had to read it.

I'm happy to say that was much better than watching Rachel wash her whites. Granted, we're not exactly breaking a lot of new ground in the Hollows world, but it was entertaining for me as a fan.

You may remember back in Dead Witch Walking, Rachel mentioned an incident on a city bus where she threw a potion at a Were she was chasing, and accidentally hit a couple of passengers, causing them to lose their hair. After that, she knew the bus drivers were wary about picking her up. What she didn't know was that one of those passengers was a blogger, not content to be a victim. His name was Devin Crossman. He gets a job as columnist for The Hollows Gazette and decides to learn everything he can about the witch who hit him with the potion. This Insider's Guide is, essentially, the culmination of his research.

That research includes information about all Inlanders. Crossman breaks down the various races. He journals about Rachel's life... from the events of Dead Witch Walking through Black Magic Sanction. Interspersed with his notes are illustrations, files from the IS and FBI, memorandums from his boss, and even copies of the Gazette that were published. The book has the feel of an overstuffed binder or scrap book. It's visually awesome.

My favorite parts included correspondence among Trent, Quen & Jonathan, monitoring Crossman's investigation. And I LOVED the pictures. We got renditions of almost everyone: from our friends at Vampiric Charms to the big names at Kalamak enterprises... from the Weres to the IS staff and then some. Harrison's approach was creative and fun.

There were a couple of places that dragged. We had an excerpt from a cookbook that didn't do much for me. And all the spells... I found myself just skimming over them. (The notable exception to that was with Al's notes in the demon text. Very funny, as Al's observations usually are.)

There were no great revelations, though I did pick up new details here and there that I'd never heard before, including a little backstory on Trent's dad... as well as some particulars about the different species. I really liked hearing Trent's voice in those memos. It's as close as we've ever come to something in his POV.

And the last line was fantastic. "It is not always what we do, Sa'han, but who we love that makes us who we are." You tell him, Quen. I can't wait for A Perfect Blood. A little more than 4 stars.
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on November 1, 2011
I had no idea of what to expect when it came to a world book. I'd surely never read one before, so I was anticipating something fairly close to a textbook, which generally = boring. This was certainly information rich, but boring is was not. In fact, it's fantastic.

The theme is genius. It kicks off with the Hollows humor we all know and love, instantly drawing you in. It's basically told from the POV of an innocent bystander of one of Rachel's spells gone hilariously wrong in her early days as an I.S. Intern. He takes his grudge to the next level and spends time spying and collecting information on our favorite itchy witch and the supporting Hollows characters. He works for the local Inderlander paper and his goal is to expose Rachel. He's not having an easy time of it which makes things all the more entertaining, so in turn this is how we learn about everything from species facts, character profiles, maps, magic spells, demon curses, recipes, music lyrics and more.

Normally when I crack open a Hollows book I want a new story, but reading about the Hollows world is quite fascinating and surprisingly enough while I already knew some of the facts, I did learn a couple of new things when it came to character insights and spells. It repeats some lines a couple of times depending on the sections, but I didn't find it annoying. You can tell Harrison really did her homework. She references the smallest things from the previous novels, even Rachel and Ivy's mistakenly suggestive Yellow Page ad from Book 3. I also liked the clarification of the different magic types between ley line, earth, and demon magic. I wish there was a little more explanation about "wild" magic that the elves typically use, but that didn't stop my enjoyment one bit.

You can skim or skip sections if you want, or you can take your time and truly absorb the information. It's definitely an adjustment to have that option for The Hollows.

You pick it up and you really don't want to put it down. The layout and graphics are very nice to look at which helps a lot. Reluctantly, I couldn't read it in one sitting being the busy bee that I am, but it was on my mind until I could get back to finishing it. Heck, I want to read it TWICE and you will NEVER hear me say that about a text book!

If you're an ebook reader, don't despair. It's not available in ebook format due to numerous graphics and font variations. I cannot imagine this looking remotely appealing on my kindle, or even on a color e-reader. It's a reference text and I always find reading those on an ereader to be an awful experience because I often flip back and forth between pages; ebooks just don't hold up to that for me.

So yes, I found this to be a satisfying read and it no doubt sets the bar extremely high for any other world books I come across. This is highly recommended if you're a fan of The Hollows, though you will want to be caught up through Pale Demon because there are major spoilers.
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on September 19, 2013
This is the first guidebook I've actively sought out for purchase. But, as a massive Hollows fan, when I heard this was to be released last October, I was excited for months and has this one pre-ordered. My rating fluctuates between four and five stars for various reasons, which will be explained below.

First, the book is told mainly through the investigative research and slander of a Hollows Gazette writer who was on the bus when Rachel's spell to catch a were backfired, causing everyone on the bus to lose their hair. This is explained after the fact in the first chapter of the first book, Dead Witch Walking. It's later found out that Devon as her superior has been causing her spells to backfire, eager to get rid of her from her position at the I.S., which is why the spell really went wrong.

First the reporter, Devin Crossman, is concerned about them not dealing with her potential danger properly, but then intrigued by her connections and ties with Kalamack, Piscary, and starts investigating Ivy, Jenks, her church, and her spell books. He digs out some Interlander Species guides from the I.S. and FIB, which are presented in the book.

The other bulk of the book is inter-office memos from Trent to Quen, to Jon, and to Maria, the editor of the Hollows Gazette. These letters are extremely short and to the point.

While it's a cool method to draw it altogether, I found these sections less interesting than the other goodies.

My favorites of the extras (NOT IN ORDER) are:

A few pages from 'Betty Bob's Everyday Recipes for the Stovetop Idiot' - shows Kim's recipe for Maple Candy, Trent's Waffles, and Brimstone Cookies. Some of these are already available on her website.

Spells - With faux book covers for each, 'Noncontact Extensions Using Ley Lines' explains how to make certain spells such as Allergy Relief, Summoning a Demon, and Calling a Familiar; '101 Earth Charms for Home and Office' are mainly white Earth magic spells such as charms to straighten hair; 'EARTH CHARMS: Practical Applications', a cool bonus being explaining with drawings the different pentagrams referenced in the book - Summoning dead from purgatory, etc; 'HERITAGE LOST' - which is one spell to find unmarked graves, as used in the second Hollows book; 'LYRICS BY TAKATA' - Presented like it's the cover of a notebook, here are the covers for his celebrated song Footprints of the Ghost, The Long Breath, Shattered Spirit, and Pierce's Lullaby (which isn't by Takata so weird it's here, but I always liked the lyrics); and Demon Spells, my favorite part because the papers look old and have notes made by Al, such as the scrying mirror.

There's also a mini Witch Weekly with a cute cover and three pages, of which my favorite section was '10 Signs your roommate is into the black arts.' I was interested too in the mini interview with Ryn Cormel on why he wrote the Vampire dating guide. And of course delighted with the two drinks provided "Dead Man's Float" served on Saladin's boat and Demon Coffee/Tea submitted by our favorite coffee barista Mark. Honestly the recipe isn't quite right from when they were in the coffee shop with Minias and later with Al, so confused about that unless Mark got it wrong? :)

I also liked Rachel's short sheet that Devin took a picture of listing all the Latin incantations and what they mean, and also his observation of some of Jenk's common "Tink curses."

Why not a full five stars then? All these goodies made this book invaluable, but I feel Devin's notebook and articles, along with the Kalamack Inner Office Memos, make up too much of the book. I would have liked to see something a bit more personal and in-depth on some of the other characters. There are guide sheets on all the species - which is in-depth and intriguing, Rachel's articles submitted to the FIB about Undead Vampires and the differences between Pixies and Fairies. I wish we could have had a breakdown list of Jenk's wings too and all the colors from it.

I also think the ending with what happens with Devin is a bit unrealistic and trying to steer the reader's sympathies a little forcefully toward Trent (trying to follow where the ending books are leading a little obviously).

Overall this book is incredible, and what's also amazing is the cover. IT GLOWS IN THE DARK! The moon glows well, too. I'm a big moon person and the large moon which dominates the color sheds off it's own light when the switched is turned off. How cool is that?
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The good, it's a nice hefty book. The bad, not a lot of "new" info, and the composition is a bit helter skelter. It's not a straight forward guide, it's a loose story that reveals information in the form of the collection of files and notes of reporter/blogger Devin Crossman, and is in itself a story as Devin's fate is revealed. Aside from Devin's research, notes between Trent and various people are also included as he keeps tabs on Devin and what the intrepid reporter digs up. I take off some stars for what I think is misrepresentation. The "maps" referred to are a few little hand sketches, there is the church lay out, and a lay out of the grounds. Otherwise it was a fun compilation. If you want solid facts about characters, like hieght weight eye color hair color, build, etc, this is not that type of guide. However it does put all the notes Kim released as Rachel's reports on various species together with new write ups from IS and FIB sources. I felt the ending was a bit disappointing. I really liked the creation of Devin Crossman, who is probably the most fleshed out character Kim has created.

lil side note, um... I think the bathrooms in the diagram are flipped (and possibly the tower is on the wrong side). Rachel's is supposed to be the one with the washer dryer, right? and Ivy's has the full bath and stuff. Me and friends actually recreated the church full scale in Second Life and we went over the first books with a fine tooth comb to get where each room was and what fixtures were inside, then put it together in 3D graphics. This was a few years back, and was the group effort of Bliss Crimson, Dilynrae Vandyke, Quincey Forder, and other fine people who play in Second Life. If you are in Second Life say hi!
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on November 14, 2011
I haven't ever really read a "world book" before, but once I heard Kim Harrison was working on one for her Hollows series, I knew I had to have it! Since she was one of the first authors I read when I crossed over from the YA section (and before going back!)! The Hollows Insider was truly a must-read for all Kim Harrison fans!!

There's no plot or storyline really, but that doesn't detract from the marvelous writing Kim did! There are tons of things to read, emails, journal entries, textbook excerpts, and other little mish-mash of things. All of it feeling and reading like the actual thing; email, journal entry, textbooks, etc. You could say that this book was written by Devin Crossman, the journalist who made living hard for Rachel, and in a way it's true. We have here all things Devin collected in order to put shame to Rachel's good name.

It was interesting reading some of his journal entries, since he was "the enemy" in some ways. But it basically gave the reader a magnificent back-story to things. And a good history lesson in some of the other things mentioned in the Hollows books! The recipe for Brimstone cookies is even in it! Along with spells Rachel has cast and even some of the demon spells!

Overall a fabulous read! I highly recommend this to any and all Holllows fans! You will not want to miss out on this one! A word of warning to newbie fans though, you might not want to read this until you've read all the books because there are some spoiler hints dropped. You won't get the full story naturally, but there are spoilers if you aren't up to date.

Overall rating 5/5 stars
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on November 15, 2013
WARNING: DO NOT BUY THIS TO READ ON YOUR KINDLE. I love Kim Harrison and the world of the Hollows, but this book is not suitable to read on a Kindle. I wish someone had warned me about this. Can't see images clearly, have to constantly adjust text and image size for every new page. Wish I had gotten hardback version instead.
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on November 12, 2011
Everything you wanted to know about the "back story" going on as Rachel Morgan progresses through this terrific series. It's highly visual: not Kindle material. Get this one in the hard cover version. The quality of the physical book is fabulous, too. Memos, newspapers articles, diaries entires, private communications between Trent and his staff, articles by Rachel and dealing with vampires (really cute stuff :-) and so much more. It's not a novel, but it's great fun and flushes out the world in which the novels take place. If you are a fan, and I am really really a fan, this is wonderful material and I am very glad I bought it. I'm reading through it all as slowly as I can to make the experience last!
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on May 16, 2014
I love all of Kim Harrison's books. That is why I was so dissapointed when I paid $13.00 for the Kindle Version and can't really read it on my iPad. I don't know why but the App. does not allow me to increase the text size, even though it is the latest version on my iPad. I normally would complain to Amazon's Customer Service but can't find a way to do this with Digital Purchases. It's also too late for me to return the book because I waited 8 days to open it. Very dissapointed with how this book appears...I hear it's good.
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on May 10, 2016
After the series ended - i was still suffering from the withdrawal and hated the ending, i brought this. It contained more "recipes" than i really cared for but i did enjoy the little side story between Morgan and the reporter. Only the book jacket has the glow-in-the dark moon - My 9 year old self was hoping the actual cover would be glow-in-the dark too.
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