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Review: The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

Review: The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison
The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #12
Published by Harper Voyager
Published on: February 25 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 512
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering.

Rachel must stop the occurrences before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and it becomes all-out supernatural war. However, the only way to do so is through the ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils.

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So I realize that I’m diving straight into this without having reviewed the previous ELEVEN (it makes me happy that “eleven” is so close to “elves”) books, but I promise I’ll get to them before the series ends next year.

*sobs*

I’m also going to do my darnedest to not be spoilery for this particular book, but as it’s the twelfth book, avoiding spoilers for the series in its entirety is probably beyond my abilities. You have been dully warned.

Kim Harrison’s The Hollows is my second favorite Urban Fantasy series, and as such, it’s one of the series that I’ve bothered my friends and family into reading. I love it. They love it. Everyone is happy. Especially now that it seems like Trent and Rachel are finally getting their sh*t together.

Since the very beginning, I’ve had a thing for Trent. Rachel’s had half a dozen flings along the way (that have all ended in varying degrees of BAD), but Trent . . . of all the jerk-of-my-dreams characters in the world, he may be my favorite.

*sighs wistfully*

SO everyone who shared this perspective was THRILLED a few books back when his and Rachel’s relationship began to change. Ever since then, Harrison has seemed to be leading us towards a happily ever after (HA), but did it finally happen in The Undead Pool?! I’ll never tell.

READ IT. *smirks*

In The Undead Pool, Rachel has been providing security for Trent for the past three months while Quen is in Cali with Ellasbeth and the girls (who are due to arrive back any day now). The sexual tension will blow. Your. Friggin’. Mind. The last night before Rachel is off the job, Cincy goes to Hell—something is causing magical misfires of epic proportions.

At this point I feel it’s necessary to inform you that I’ve been in a bit of a book funk. I don’t seem to be loving much of anything right now, so there’s a distinct possibility that when the re-read occurs next year, I’ll be all “OMG that book was AMAZING.” Right now, however, something just didn’t quite jive for me. Can you guess what it was?

The freaking mystics.

I mean what in the world? An Elvish goddess who’s not really a goddess, but a collective mind made up of energy whose individual thoughts (<—–the mystics) are sentient, but who may have been an actual goddess (tangible person) once upon a time?

Huh?

AND Rachel has been concerned over the state of Ivy’s soul (or the lack of one when she transitions from living vampire to undead) almost since the beginning, and for probably the last half of the series, she’s been actively trying to come up with a solution. I think that that’s the endgame for The Hollows—finding a way for vampires to keep their souls.

The point is that we’ve all known for a while what was coming.

BUT this lead-in just felt . . . I don’t know, contrived? A previously unheard of sect of vampires out to take over (at the very least) the vampire portion of the supernatural races? We’d never heard of the Humans-Against-Whatever from A Perfect Blood either, but at least when the concept was introduced there were background stories to support its existence. This time it was just BOOM: Free Vampires.

And the whole situation was engineered by what/who?

David at some point in this book says that Rachel saved Trent—that Trent had been headed down a completely different and ruthless path, but Rachel saved him from himself. Maybe Harrison was drawing a parallel about the kind of man Trent would have become without Rachel’s influence. Maybe. Probably. Whatever.

Intentional parallel or not, all the ends and outs of this installment didn’t gel for me the way others have. It was still good. I love Rachel and Trent and Jenks and everyone else, and Harrison upheld all of the established elements of her series—there is nothing out of left field here (unlike a not-to-be-named other series that ended recently). But all the time I spent with my brow furrowed in confusion while I was reading makes this a four star book for me. I wasn’t able to just sink into the story and let it take me over.

Still, The Hollows continues to have a cast of characters that is both original and dynamic, and its conclusion next year is sure to be bittersweet. Don’t let the series’ end catch you unawares—get caught up and soon!

Jessica Signature

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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31 Comments

  1. I missed that David said ‘Rachel saved Trent’… Awesome point!!! I think she’s been saving him since camp and she clocked him into the tree 😀 and he’s been laying the groundwork for his own salvation ever since he took her for a ride on Tulpa at camp.

    I asked Kim at her book signing about ‘that scene’ and if it was hard to write – you know what I’m talking about *wink, wink*? I couldn’t ask her in front of everyone, duh! Anyways, she said it was super easy to write – it just flowed out 😀

    What is your other favorite UF series?????

    OH, and great review!!! I never reviewed all of them either!!!

    • I think she’s been saving him the whole time too. And I love, love, LOVE that about their relationship. Almost as much as I love how much history they have together.

      And about “that scene” LOL, yeah, that makes sense. Harrison’s been working towards it for SO long, that when it finally happened . . . I can see how it would just flow 😀

      My other favorite UF series is Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, but Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series is way up there too! And thank you 😀

  2. Nice review! Got this one myself last week so I plan to read it this week! Glad to hear it was good with only a few whats?! This has been one of my fave series ever since I accidentally picked up book 2 not realizing it was book 2! Basically I’ve been reading it since that second book came out and have loved every moment of it! Very nice review!

    • Thanks 🙂 And, oh no! That must have been so confusing, lol. But at least you liked it enough to stick with it, right? I think I started reading this series a few months before book 8 came out, so while I’ve still had multiple year-long waits, I haven’t had nearly as many as you—GAH. It puts it in perspective 😉 I hope you have fun reading it this week!

  3. I loved this book. You make a great point about these radical groups that come out of nowhere. HAPA and now Free Vamps and whatever the elves are doing. There always seems to be someone out there plotting against poor Rachel. Luckily, she has some of the best friends a person could ask for.

    One of my favorite scenes was in the van when Trent comments about how Rachel’s world blows up and everyone rallies around her, with him everyone is scrambling to snag up pieces. It really made me feel sorry for him.

    • And you just made my heart hurt for Trent all over again. What really struck me is that I don’t think he was being self-deprecating—he was just calling it like he saw it. To be so matter-of-fact about such a miserable state of existence . . . heart . . . HURTS.

      But I think (I HOPE) things will get better for him. Whether Trent and Rachel are friends or more-than-friends, he’s pretty firmly cemented his place in her life, and she brings her friends with her 🙂

  4. I keep hearing great things about this series. I need to find time to read it this year. Glad to see that you liked it. 🙂

  5. I just finished this last night and loved it. I agree the mystics were a bit confusing – but they totally grew on me and I felt a little sad at the how that wrapped up with Rachel. Although the Free Vampires and Goddess stuff came out of left field, I think that was true to the series – Rachel has never been a reliable narrator. She doesn’t know about everything, and is often wrong about what she thinks she does know, so her being unaware about all that worked for me. I’m going to be giving it 4.5 stars – but my reason for not being 5 stars is THE scene. Yes, it was good. But it wasn’t great – thought the Pierce scene was better. Did I want to much from it… probably because I’m in love with Trent. But I feel like it just didn’t deliver the way you’d expect after all these years of build up. Oh well, I can’t wait for the next one and I don’t want it to come because then it will be over 🙁 Great review – sorry for writing a book in response LOL

    • Pffw! Book shmook 😉

      The mystics grew on me too, and I also felt sorry for them in the end. As individual or collective beings, I was totally fine with them. It was the concept (in its entirety) that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Still can’t. And I kept trying to, and wracking my brain to come up with something I’d missed. I even went back to when they first introduced and re-read the passage, but there was nothing extra there.

      And I’m with you on “the scene.” I though it was good, not great, but it didn’t bother me as much b/c I was just SO relieved that it was actually happening, LOL.

      And thanks! Looking forward to your review 🙂

  6. Hey wait…I hope I have not been blind..new banner?

    • Nope. Not blind, lol. I think it went up yesterday. AND you have a new look yourself 😉

  7. “This time it was just BOOM: Free Vampires” Exactly!!! That kind of ruined the book for me. I still loved it, but not as much as I was hoping to. The Free Vamps and the Goddess stuff felt over-the-top.

    • Yeah, I’m having trouble seeing how everything’s going to be wrapped up in one more installment. Who knows? Maybe when we read the final book next year, it will all make sense, but right now, I’m having a hard time seeing how all of that contributes to the bigger picture. There was the throw-away comment from Ren Cormel about Rachel having to save them (the vampires), but the rest of it . . .

  8. I’ve see and read wonderful reviews about this series. I have to confess I bought book one several years ago and tried to read it, but just could not get into it. I might have to try again. Everyone seams to like the series and well gezz its got 12 books already in it. Who knows maybe this time around! Nice review!

    • Thank you! And it took me a couple of books to get into it too, so don’t feel bad if you don’t automatically LOVE The Hollows. I think I’ve got book 1 rated as 5 stars on Goodreads, but that wasn’t until a re-read 😉 First time through, I probably gave it 3 stars.

  9. I hear ya, I love this series too but I thought this book was a step back from the awesomeness of Ever After. The whole mystic thing was just too out there, I also didn’t like the situation with Al, I do love the relationship though with Rachel and Trent!

    • Oh yeah, the thing with Al just about killed me. I was so disappointed that he could do that.

      BUT Rachel and Trent were the highlight of the book for me as well, and they are ultimately why I still really liked this book (even if the rest of it was kind of bizarre).

  10. it’s so great to see it’s always awesome. I really need to read the other books, I’m so behind, I think I have book 7 to read. Yeah that behind! but I’m so curious!

    • It’s hard to find the time to read everything you want to read . . . sigh. But hey, look at it this way—you don’t have to be destroying your fingernails like the rest of us waiting for the next book 😉

  11. I know what you mean about some groups coming out of nowhere. I actually thought A Perfect Blood was my least liked book of the series. While I loved this one, I wasn’t sure there couldn’t have been something else done instead of the mystic angle. I agree with you on where the last book is headed. She needs to wrap up the vampire soul thing and somehow resolve Al’s plotline as well. Kim did say somewhere that she does plan on giving all of the characters a version of happy ending.

    • THE ONES THAT LIVE!! What does that even mean?!<—–kind of stressed about that whole situation, lol. And yeah, the out-of-nowhereness is what has me feeling trepidation for the last book. It just doesn't seem like enough groundwork has been laid for a finale. But like I said a few comments up—maybe after we get our grubby mitts on book 13, it will make perfect sense *fingers crossed* And I really liked this one too, it's just not my favorite (Pale Demon!).

      • Hmm I don’t even know which one is my favorite. But I do agree some things are being pulled out of nowhere and leave me feeling like its being a bit rushed where the bad guys and other organizations are concerned.

      • When I re-read ALL of them right before book 13 comes out, I may very well decided that another book is my favorite. Pale Demon is my most RECENT favorite. And that will probably help too (the re-read). There could be tons of tiny things that hint at what happened in this book and what will happen in 13, but it’s been too long for little things to be fresh.

      • I agree its been hmmm at least two or more years since I did an entire reread…but when you think about it its not THAT long since the series has been around now for 12 books isn’t that like 12 years? LOL

  12. Confession: I bailed on this series a few books in when things happened with Kisten. *sobs* I don’t handle things like that very well, so I had to take an extended leave from the Hollows, but I think it might be time to return. I LOVE the sound of her relationship with Trent, and I really can’t wait to watch it develop and progress from where I left it early on in the series. So excited:) Glad at book 12 this series is still going pretty strong for you Jessica, even with the few flaws you mentioned!

    • The Kisten thing was definitely a punch to the gut. Fortunately (for me), I was never really invested in any of Rachel’s other relationships—I always thought Nick was shady, Kisten (as much and I loved him and pitied his situation) was always owned by Piscary and therefore could never put Rachel first, and I won’t say anything about the others b/c I don’t think you got to them 😉 but I had problems with them too.

      If you’re feeling like giving The Hollows another shot, I think knowing (to a degree) what’s coming will make it easier for you this time. That’s always been the case with me, anyway. And the series is definitely still going strong, so (IM humble O) it’s totally worth it!

  13. I loved this book. I honestly was not a fan of Trents, and wasn’t on board with “him and Rachel” until the last book. I had a hard time forgiving or fully trusting a guy who bashed her head into a grave stone after she saved him, but the moment that changed for me was when he gave her the elven ring and agreed to be her familiar. That was a totally game changing moment for them (I think Rachel felt that too). I think David’s observation was very much needed for Rachel, so that she could take a little step back and look at it all with a different perspective. The whole book felt very sentimental to me. It definitely felt like the beginning of the end. *sobs*

    • Yeah, Trent has definitely been shady in the past, but you know how it is—our minds will cover a multitude of sins for our favorite characters, and I’ve ALWAYS harbored an irrational love for Trent, lol. And I know! This is going to be the first UF series that I truly love that ends. Oh, there have been half a dozen that have ended that I liked, but I was never desperate to read the newest installment like I am with The Hollows. The beginning of the end is not my happy place 🙁

  14. I have no heard of this series at all but I want to read it now. What do you think about me binge-reading it next week? 12 books to read in a row of what seems to be an awesome set of books is enough to make me drool in anticipation already!

    Faye @ The Social Potato

    • I say go for it! I’m sure you’ll have lots-o-company along the way b/c I know how you like status updates, and all of us Kim Harrison fans will being stalking you 😉 Plus a ton of her books are on sale right now b/c of the new release<—–win/win.