Review: A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison

Posted June 4, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 78 Comments

Review: A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison
A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #4
Published by Harper Voyager
Published on: June 27 2006
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 531
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her -- not necessarily in that order.

Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses -- savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.

Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in millennia to ravage and to rule. And suddenly more than Rachel's soul is at stake.


Where to begin . . .

I’ve come to expect a certain kind of action-fueled, intricate, and well-crafted plot from Kim Harrison, and in A Fistful of Charms, the fourth installment of her The Hollows series, the breakneck pace and interconnectedness upheld all of my expectations.

But . . . yes, there’s a but . . . the Rachel and Ivy nonsense came to a head, and as we all know, things that come to a head are wont to EXPLODE.

And explode it did. But I’ll get to that later.

At the end of book 3, Rachel signs on as David (the lone Were)’s female alpha for insurance purposes (b/c as an independent runner, Rachel is practically uninsurable), and as a quick fix for David who is getting hassled at work for being a lone wolf, and not contributing to the Were population.

SO. He forms a pack with Rachel, who won’t hold him to the standard expectations that another Were would—relationships, babies, etc.—and problem solved. Right? Right.


The local alphas don’t think much of David’s loophole maneuver and decide to make an example of him. And by “him” I mean Rachel, b/c she’s the one who gets challenged by the alpha leader-backed female who wants to be David’s alpha in truth *waggles eyebrows* (as opposed to on paper, like Rachel). These early shenanigans with the Weres lay the groundwork for the upcoming interactions (shenanigans) with the Weres, who play a HUGE role in this book.

There’s also a lot of Nick. I don’t like Nick.

Nick aside, the premise for this book was awesome—an artifact that can unite the Weres and return them to a position of power among the Inderlanders has been “discovered” (*cough* stolen *cough*), and Rachel and Co. must find it, hide it, and prevent an Inderlander war.

If this idea sounds familiar, and you happened to have read the first book from Jess Haines’ H&W Investigations series, let me assure you that Harrison’s book predates Haines’ by four years, and if there was any theft of ideas, it wasn’t on Harrison’s part. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

So yeah, very cool, very easily identified plot. More character development across the board—for the first time, I actually like Ivy instead of merely acknowledging her presence. Aaaannndddddd . . . Jenks gets BIG.

Seriously, what could be cooler than BIG Jenks? Not much.

So why did I only rate this 3.5 stars when up to this point the other books have been a solid 4 stars?

Well . . . there’s a thing that Rachel likes to do that really bugs me (No, not the tomatoes thing *snickers* but good guess), and I haven’t mentioned it before now b/c up to this point it’s been a minor thing, and I ultimately love her, BUT Rachel likes to take responsibility for things that aren’t her fault. And the way she does this rationalizes other problems (or other people’s responsibility in the problems) until she is solely to blame.

I hate it.

I’m all for taking ownership of your actions. In fact, I probably hate blame-shifting more than Rachel’s convoluted rationalizations that manage to hold her accountable for things that are only marginally her fault (if at all). But what Rachel does is so far beyond ownership . . . it’s almost like when a leader sacrifices herself for the safety of her people. It’s this big, dramatic sense of responsibility, and by usurping that responsibility, she also belittles the choices of others.

I. Hate. It.

So what is this big, awful thing that Rachel tries to take responsibility for? Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. If you’ve read the book, then you know. If you haven’t read the book, READ THE BOOK.<——if you haven’t figured it out yet, all roads lead to the same place. *orbit gum smile*

I also don’t like the suggestion that Rachel had been harboring a secret desire for the Awful Thing to happen all along. I’ll buy that she needs to be in a relationship that’s dangerous and/or risky to stay interested, but the other thing . . . NOPE. Sorry, don’t buy it.

So again, GREAT premise, action-packed plot, BIG Jenks (*swoons* *drools*), lots-o-good stuff here, but also again, REALLY over the Rachel and Ivy drama. HOWEVER, I happen to know for a FACT, that it does end. So keep on swimmin’, little fishes . . . keep on swimmin’.

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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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78 responses to “Review: A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison

  1. I love this series and I so get what you mean about Rachel. She carries the world on her shoulders and I wish she wouldn’t, but then she wouldn’t be Rachel. I don’t think anyone is ever a fan of Nick, except Jax, but that is a whole nother story. Great review.

    • Thanks, Melanie! And yeah, that is a whole different story. But it’s a story that makes me sad for Jenks 🙁 And no, a Rachel who didn’t take on the world’s problem probably wouldn’t be Rachel, so we deal. And she does get better about it, I think.

  2. Yeah, this one wasn’t a fave installment, though it was necessary in many ways. LOVED Big Jenks (so adorable!) and really hate Nick. I wish he disappeared earlier than he does. Oh, well. On to the next one, right?

    • Exactly. On to the next one. And yeah, Nick needs to go. Far, far away. I couldn’t believe that the jackhole didn’t even see the problem with trading Rachel info. *mutters* But Big Jenks covers a multitude of evils, right?

  3. Well blah. I don’t know what to think. I just know I need to read this because I know I will like it. I think what stops me time and time again is that these are so darn long!

    • Yeah, but unlike a lot of books like this that are longer, they don’t feel that way when you’re reading them. There’s so much action that you get sucked in and it flies by. And really, this was one of the longer installments (there aren’t many that are this long—most are 50 – 100 pages shorter).

  4. I can’t remember when the BIG EVENT happened in this series that made me curl into a fetal ball and start rocking, and then take an extended break from the books. Did the thing with K happen in this one or the last one? I can’t remember if I’ve read this book or not! I totally understand what you’re saying about Rachel assuming responsibility for things that are in no way her fault – that can definitely get frustrating after a while. Glad overall this series is still going strong for you though Jessica!

    • Oh yeah, Jenny, this is my #2 UF series. I don’t think the thing with K happens for a couple more books. Maybe the next one . . . I hope you eventually pick the series back up, b/c (IMO) the best books are a few past this one (8 and 9).

  5. bookwormbrandee  

    I’m so enjoying your re-reads/reviews, Jessica. Since I’m behind a few books in this series, it’s helping refresh my memory for when I get to Ever After. 🙂 I totally agree with you about Rachel and that thing that shall not be named. And I agree with you about her tendency to take responsibility for others’ actions, too. But the action and BIG Jenks balanced things in this one…a BIG Jenks can make up for a lot! *ha*

    Oh, and I don’t like Nick either!!!

    • Big Jenks does make up for a LOT. I kind of wish Jenks could stay big, but that’s just me being selfish 😉 It’s not like there’s not enough man candy in these books, right?

      And no—not much to like *scowls*

  6. Oh wow you have some strong opinions there about Rachel’s actions. But totally valid ones. Now I’m going to have to look at things a little different if/when I reread. Oh yes and I HATE NICK AS WELL> DIE fooocker die!!

    • Shoot. This isn’t fast, LOL. I’ve been taking breaks for other books along the way. And this current break has been a bit longer, b/c yeah, I needed a Rachel break after this latest nonsense, but I’m hoping to get back to her by next week 😉

  7. This one was my least favorite in the series, and I can see you had issues with it as well. Yes, Yes Rachel is annoying sometimes and the thing with Ivy drives me crazy but it gets better 🙂

  8. Omg, you did not end your review with that line :)) Killer ending, haha!
    I’m still not up and going on this series, to my never-ending shame. I plan on taking a week or so and reading it all in one go, that’s the new plan :)) I suck, my schedule sucks, but I have a smexeh long, hard reading session to look forward to, so it ain’t all bad 😀

    Loved the review!

  9. This is the one where Jinks gets big, I loved that! Like I’ve said in other reviews, the books blur together over the years. It was nice to kind of get a reminder of what happened though. Like I said last week, I’m kind of needing a Rachel fix, I’m ready to pick up another one in the series. Too bad my reading schedule doesn’t allow it.

  10. I struggled with Rachel for a long while, especially when it came to Ivy and Nick the a****** LOL but she’s one of my favorite heroines in UF, definitely in my top 3! Your reviews for this series makes me want to do a re-read (if only I had the time) and also makes me sad that it’s coming to an end. Luckily there are some other series I haven’t read that will hopefully fill the Hollows void!

    • Yeah, I don’t even know what I’m going to do. All of my favorite series (except Kate) have wrapped-up/are wrapping-up soon, and I have ZERO replacements. Oh, there are a couple of mediocre series, but nothing that compares to Women of the Otherworld, Night Huntress, October Daye, or the The Hollows. Wait, that’s not true, I do really love Age of X, but seriously . . . that’s it so far . . . I’m not counting Charlaine Harris’s new one b/c it’s only a trilogy, so it a couple of years, it’s done too 🙁

  11. Christy  

    It’s been so long since I read this, but I’m pretty sure I know what you’re referring to. Is it the thing that happens in the van? Haha – and Nick is an asshat. God, I want to you hurry up and finish these! I get anxious and excited knowing what happens, that I it’s hard to hold back. lol. I’m so glad you’re liking this series though.

    • Yes, it is that thing. GAH. And I totally understand—it’s been a good 3 or 4 years since I read them all too, so it’s about as fresh a start as I can get. LOVE this series.

  12. Yup an annoying heroine can really throw a wrench on an otherwise awesome series. Still you powered thru and made some great points. The premise is indeed exciting in an epic proportion kind of way. Lots of things can go wrong in that mission which means awesome ADVENTURES!!!

    • Adventure, LOL. That’s what my husband calls it when we’re on a road trip and get lost. But this series is awesome despite some frustration with the MC, but I love her too, so I just have to grit my teeth through the rough parts 😉

  13. LOL signing up as an alpha female for insurance purposes? Both of them using each other… XDD I like the sound of Rachel and David!! I really need to read this series. I agree that Rachel’s annoying trait seems annoying. I HATE when characters tend to feel responsible for other peoples’ problems, and I’ve read a lot of books like this. It seems like the series has been fantastic so far though and is worth a try 🙂

    • This is my #2 UF series, and yes, despite a couple of annoying Rachel traits, it is definitely worth checking out. Is there really a perfect MC out there? I don’t think so. And Rachel and David aren’t using each other, LOL. They’re taking advantage of the system to their mutual benefit 😉

  14. hmm you’re right, it’s true that she always take care of other business but I don’t remember if it bothered me or not. I remember big Jenks lol though. And you’re right Nick isn’t that good… I really don’t like him either. AAArrgghhh I need to read book 7!

  15. I’ve still not tried this series though I’m slowly collecting them! lol That’s so not a favorite trait to read about. Hopefully she’ll start to grow out of that as it goes along.

    • So annoying. But yes, Big Jenks does make most things bearable, and Rachel does get better . . . eventually, LOL. Nick though . . . Nick needs to take a long walk off a short pier.

  16. Had to skim most of your review because I haven’t read the book yet but it sounds like lots will happen in the next installment. I’m up to this book in the series and I’m up for an action-packed ride!

  17. BIG Jenks is the most awesome thing it the whole world AND in the ever after, too! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy A Fistful of Charms as much as you’ve enjoyed the earlier books, Jessica. It always sucks when that happens, because once you start seeing something you can’t really enjoy, you start seeing more things you don’t enjoy (or maybe that’s just me…)
    I hate Nick, too, I love Ivy’s nick-name for him 😀 He’s a total moron, and I think he’s also partly why Rachel acts like everything is potentially her fault.
    Great review, Jessica, and I hope the next installment will make you happier.

    • BIG Jenks is pretty fantastic. I don’t know if he’s better than Trent in a cat burglar outfit though . . . 😉 And yeah, this has always been one of my least favorite installments, but Big Jenks definitely keeps it from being a total loss.

      Thanks, Lexxie! I hope so too. It’s been so long since I read these books that the only thing I remember for sure is that I LOVE books 8 and 9.

      • *Sighs* yeah, Trent in a cat burglar outfit is good on the eyes, too…
        If you need a new series, I can recommend the Mageri series by Dannika Dark. It’s fun, UF, with magic and shapeshifters. The world she has built is very different from other paranormal places I have visited, though.
        Lots of man-candy, and a very snarky humor.

      • Sorry I missed this, Lexxie! I just checked my spam folder for the first time in a month, and for some reason half of my comment notifications (but only half) were getting sent there instead of my inbox. GAH.

        Anyway, thanks for the rec! I actually love the Mageri series 😉 Logan. YUM. I still need to read the last book though, and then I’m going to get caught up on Dark’s spin-off series too!

  18. Okay my friend…this little fish has this series on my radar! I even one-clicked the first book because I know you are totally enjoying this series! I only skimmed the review just in case, you know to avoid a possible spoiler-y sentence. 😉 I feel like I have so many books to look forward to because of you!!! *virtual hug* 🙂

  19. Okay I am starting this next week.
    You get to be my constant reminder telling me that you will slay me alive if I don’t.
    Plus I like you so I’ll listen to you.

    PLEASE otherwise I’ll probably forget about it in spite of the fact that I promised you…

    • EXCELLENT. But I won’t slay you . . . I’ll just stare at you menacingly, and throw Rachel books in your general direction . . . when you least expect it. *glowers*

      Pfft. You’ll read it when you read it. I mean, I can harass you, if you really want me too . . .

  20. “I’m all for taking ownership of your actions. In fact, I probably hate blame-shifting more than Rachel’s convoluted rationalizations that manage to hold her accountable for things that are only marginally her fault (if at all). ” – Holy moly, I think we’re sisters. I feel the exact same way! It feels so good to hear someone else say it.

    • LOL, Maggie—yeah, accepted responsibility for you actions is a BIG deal to me. Nothing can get me as riled as someone making excuses for something they’ve done, but man, Rachel . . . sometimes she can take owning one’s actions a bit too far 😉

  21. This one was my least favorite but I LOVED Jenks in this one! Well…I love him in all the books. Rachel could definitely use a come to Jesus meeting with taking on more than she should. Great review….as always!

    • Thanks, Ginny! And Rachel needs a smack to the head. SO impulsive. I mean she adamantly refuses to have any part of the Big Thing for the entire series prior to that point, then she’s all, “Just kidding!” *rolls eyes*

      Thanks goodness for Big Jenks, right?

  22. Well yet another series I have seen around and heard amazing things about but haven’t read. You need to come up with some ways to make me read more UF. I know that once I start I won’t be able to stop, but someone needs to make me start.But I’m so happy you enjoyed this sequel. Great review, Jessica 🙂

  23. On the other hand if this book was written by LKH, then Rachel, Ivy, Nick and everyone else would be one big pile of happy goo clad in silk… *smirks* Awesome review, my dear! I so enjoy your looks back at the oldies!