Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest: SciFi Guy chats about Kim Harrison

The (Un)Dead Pool

When preparing this post I decided I wanted to have a bit of retrospective theme, a little looking forward, some vampires, and include the holiday season too. Whew. So why the title for the post? Fans of Clint Eastwood will recognize it as a play on the title of his 1988 Dirty Harry picture The Dead Pool which of course leads me to admitting my all-time favourite urban fantasy series with vampires is the Rachel Morgan/Hollows series by Kim Harrison.

Kim has made a career and a successful series out of riffing on Clint Eastwood movie titles for her books including:
  1. Dead Witch Walking (2004)
  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005)
  3. Every Which Way But Dead (2005)
  4. A Fistful of Charms (2006)
  5. For a Few Demons More (2007)
  6. The Outlaw Demon Wails (2008), retitled Where Demons Dare in the UK
  7. White Witch, Black Curse (2009)
  8. Black Magic Sanction (February 23, 2010)

The books are set in an alternate reality Cincinnati where witches, weres, vampires, pixies, demons, elves, gargoyles and many more supernatural creatures are real. The three main characters are Rachel (witch), Ivy (living vampire) and Jenks (4" high pixie with 50 odd children) that form a partnership and operate the equivalent of a supernatural bounty hunter firm out of a converted church.  Over the course of the series the relationships between these marvelous characters deepen and mature. You get to know them like family. As vampires go Ivy is my favourite; complex, sexy, fierce, possessive and dangerous.

The world-building in the series is superlative with great attention to detail, back story and consistency. You have to read the books to appreciate the humour of the absolute fear humans have of tomatoes (yep tomatoes). If you need to point at something and definitively say "this is urban fantasy" the Hollows would be in the crosshairs. 

In my look back at the past year, Barnes and Noble recently named the first book in the series, Dead Witch Walking, the best urban fantasy of the past decade. Kim Harrison also made urban fantasy news earlier in the year when she came out of the closet in a special urban fantasy issue of Locus Magazine and declared that she was actually the fantasy author Dawn Cook and that the Kim Harrison moniker was a pseudonym. She revealed that she even had a special wardrobe and wigs she wore to signings to maintain her secet identity!

The next book in the series is Black Magic Sanction and it is my most anticpated read for 2010 releasing on February 23. Here is a large version of the final cover which Kim just revealed a few days ago (no description/blurb yet).

Looking even further into the future fans of the series will be glad to know that Kim has a publishing deal that guarantees 12-13 books. With one book per year that takes us out to 2015. If you like the graphic novels format, the series will also be coming out in that form in 2011. Here is a sneak peak at some early art (Ivy left, Rachel right).

And finally Kim Harrison provides her own version of seasonal cheer with her own version of The 12 Days of Christmas...

On the 12 day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
12 Humans Hiding,
11 Tinks a Tinkling
10 Porno flicks
 9 Pole Dancers
8 Pixies Partying
7 Karma Sutras
6 Fairies Farting
5 Trolls in Drag
4 Purple Condoms
3 French Ticklers
2 Horny Vamps
And a Succubus in the Snow

To read more from the SciFiGuy, check his blog daily for an awesome perspective on the paranormal and urban fantasy genre.


Elie said...

Doug-I love this series too. Kim does an incredible job of building a world where Vamps/Witches and other beings exist, it feels real. She keeps me turning pages until all hours of the night.

Come on February!

SciFiGuy said...

Elie I heartily agree that it feels real. I especially like the way she has the various species peacefully co-existing in a seemingly normal world. Not only do I read the book in a gulp, I get the audio book too. Narrator Marguerite Gavin does a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to life.

Ida Brugler said...

I have not read these books, but they are on my Santa list for Christmas.

Anna Dougherty said...

This series is definitely deserves the top spot for urban fantasy. It's all about the world building, which submerges the reader, and the characters, which are well written and complex. Depth is the world I'm looking for. These books have depth and allow the reader to become emotionally involved in the world.

The titles are just icing on the cake! I love the play on words.

I've never tried an audio book but have been curious about how that would play out. maybe I'll try Kim Harrison as my first foray into audio.

The 12 Days was a riot and I'm forwarding it to my husband:)

Great post SciFi Guy!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who likes Clint Eastwood enough to make their titles a play on his movies deserves to be showcased!

SciFiGuy said...

Ida I would say you are in for a treat :)

Anna well put. The world Harrison creates is totally immersive. I love the audio versions. You can hear samples over at

Nicole my favourite play on words title is The Outlaw Demon Wails. Of course I'm a fan of the movie too.

Danielle87 said...

I am totally with you on this one! Kim's series is epic - I can definitely see it continuing long past 2015. And I love the fact that she has a very different love story at the centre - Rachel & Ivy. Such an angst/lust-ridden romance that still has fans hooked, despite the fact that they are still in 'will they or won't they?' territory.

I love this series, I love Kim Harrison - great post!

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for sharing here Doug. I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for including the artwork and covers and links. Awesome. Love Kim's Christmas poem.
Happy Holidays,

Mardel said...

I love this series also. From the very fist book, which I picked up in on a whim before the Kim Harrison name was famous. The only thing is, I do get a little tired of Ivy's bad mood, although she is one of my favorite characters. I don't think I'd enjoy uncharacteristic happiness from her though- I think I'm tired of the angst between her and Rachel. Even so, The Hollows remains one of my favorite series. Kim Harrison is a terrific writer, and is full of surprises.

SciFiGuy said...

Danielle I'd love to be reading this series for as long as Kim cares to write about it. I think in recent books it has become cleare that Ivy and Rachel won't become an item the way Ivy wants it but as they say, "never say never".

Thanks RK I can't recommend this series enough.

Mardel I agree about the surprises. Kim is definitely not shy about trying something new with her characters. I still have hope for Ivy :)

Roxanne Rhoads said...

This is one of my favorites too. Rachel is so complex as a character and the whole world building and interwoven plots and subplots are superb along with the complexity of each character. It always leaves you wonering where is this going to go? What's going to happen?

Love it.

Great choice.

SciFiGuy said...

Roxanne it is so hard waiting a year for each new book. At least it is good to know they will be coming for quite a few years yet.

Rebecca @ DSB said...

Hi Doug,
I didn't know you were such a rabid Kim Harrison fan. For you to say that her next book is your number one read of 2010, I'm impressed. For myself, I'd have to say my number one of 2010 will be the next Kate Daniels book by Ilona Andrews, but I'd put the next Rachel Morgan a close second.

Funny thing, I've recommended Hollows to some folks who come back and tell me they don't like it. I suppose the sexy covers mislead some readers into thinking this is a PNR rather than a UF series.

I wonder just how many people get the Clint Eastwood title tie-ins. I'm glad you pointed it out. It's one of my favorite, well I hate to say gimmicks, but you know what I mean. For some reason I don't like it when other books play off movie titles, but I love it when Ms. Harrison does. Go figure.

SciFiGuy said...

Hey Rebecca. Indeed I am crazy about this series. I love the Kate Daniels series too, but it is the depth and breadth of characters in Kim's books that works so well for me. Ceri, Trent, Jenks, Nick, Algaliarept although secondary characters get a lot of page time and are almost as important as the principle characters.

I've found the same thing about recommendations. Some people just don't "get" the series which is OK by me.

One of the things about the titles is that they aren't just a riff on the movie titles but actually in their new form make perfect sense to the context of the story. Gotta love it.

Lisa R said...

Somehow despite all the great reviews on this series, i missed actually starting it although I'm sure I've got most of it on my shelf. I tend to put off getting into a great series that isn't complete but as this one seems destined for the long haul might be a good time to dive in. Thanks for reminding me of how great it is.