The Outlaw Demon Wails, by Kim Harrison

I know that I’m not reading “serious” books right now, but I just finished my last semester of graduate school. My brain needs a break. For those of you looking for serious literature, I am going to start reading A Tale of Two Cities soon for a book club.

So, The Outlaw Demon Wails. This is the sixth Rachel Morgan book by Kim Harrison, and I think I like the series more and more as it goes on. It’s a contemporary fantasy and, yes, there are vampires. But this is one of the few series I’ve seen that actually gives face time to other fantastical creatures. In this case, demons, witches, elves, and pixies. (This is also something I like about Charlaine Harris.) There’s a wealth of legend and myth in the Western tradition. It seems like a shame not to use it.

In this book, Rachel Morgan again faces her nemesis: Algaliarept. She also has to deal with a murdering elf who is trying to save his species from extinction, a mother who is trying to set her up with a nice guy, a vampire who’s in love with her, and her own missing memories about who killed her last boyfriend. There’s a lot going on in this book and Harrison does a great job of pacing. I could feel the tension building as I read, but it didn’t do so fast that I felt like I was losing track of the twists and turns. I’ve read a few books were so much happened in two or three pages that I would have to go back and re-read them just to figure out what the hell was going on.

The other thing that I liked about this book is that things got wrapped up and we can no move on to new, interesting things. I always wonder a little about series writers, and how much they plan out in advance. I’ve read that James Lee Burke, for instance, has no plans when he sits down to write and others will map everything out. Laurell Hamilton, according to her blog, writes ideas down on post-its and uses them to kind of storyboard her books together on her office wall. (I read in a recent entry of hers, that she’s had ideas on her wall for so long that the post-its have stared to fade.) So I wonder about multi-book arcs. I appreciate that you can build characters and stories over several books, but I think you have to be careful about it so that it doesn’t seem like you’re going over the same ground over and over again.

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