With the final book of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series on the horizon (book thirteen, most likely to be released in 2015), it’s hard not to read each new installment in this long-running urban fantasy saga without searching for directions that might provide clues to where the ultimate, final chapter will take us. With the eleventh book, Ever After, out this week, here are some of the burning questions:
Where will the post-Turn world of Cincinnati end up?
Will the hate groups succeed in destroying the Interlanders, or will one of the major Inderland or Ever After groups—elves, demons, fae, witches, vampires—end up destroying the others?
Where will the final relationship stand between Rachel and Ivy? Jenks? Algaliarept? And, last but not least, Trent Kalamack?
Can Ku’Sox be controlled? Eliminated? Eliminated painfully? Will we ever see the end of slimeball Nick?
A few potential directions came out in last year’s A Perfect Blood, as a human hate group ramped up its bid to eliminate the Inderlanders.
In Ever After, it’s the ancient feud between elves and demons heading toward a climactic confrontation, with the Ever After itself in jeopardy.
The battleground on both fronts is nothing short of genocide, and both Rachel Morgan and Trent Kalamack are right in the middle of it, along with the whole issue of genetic manipulation to create babies capable of surviving the Rosewood virus unleashed at the time of the Turn.
This time out, Trent and Rachel—who’ve been on the edge of some relationship breakthrough for the last three books (well, arguably, ten books)—are having to work together more than ever. Even harder, they have to trust each other more than ever as Ku’Sox makes a big play that, if successful, will ultimately lead to the destruction of both Rachel and the Ever After itself.
Trent is a father now, and Rachel a godmother, so when baby Lucy is kidnapped along with Ceri, the stakes are huge. And Trent, struggling between being a powerful wielder of wild magic and playing the role expected of him as the public face and savior of the elves, is a wild card whose abilities might be far greater than anyone has realized.
Some old faces come into play here, as the ever-despicable Nick rises from his hidey-hole to once again play the demon games that should have long ago destroyed him, and Pierce shows the combination of old-fashioned charm and moral ambiguity that drove Rachel crazy about him when they were together.
Ivy is back, and so are Rynn Cormel and Felix, just in case we thought the vampires were going to slip away quietly. Ivy’s future is as unsettled as Rachel’s, although Jenks is settling into his unlikely domestic arrangement with the warrior fairy more smoothly than expected.
And then there’s Algaliarept, the wily old demon who gradually has become someone his “itchy witch” relies on. He surprises us here—and Rachel as well—with an emotional depths we haven’t seen before.
In Ever After, all the characters are forced to step outside their wheelhouses, confront their greatest fears, and make hard choices. How far they’re willing to go—and how much they’re willing to trust—is what makes Ever After such an emotionally rich read.
We’re reminded several times in this book that Rachel Morgan is twenty-seven years old, and the maturing process that began to gel in A Perfect Blood really becomes evident here. Even as she’s trying to keep her ass free of alligators, Rachel is able to look with clarity at her own skills and those of her friends and allies. She’s able to admit when she needs backup, but also is willing to stand alone when it’s called for, even when it frightens her.
Ever After features a grown-up Rachel, coming into her own as the worlds of Ever After, Inderlanders, and humans head toward what’s going to be a terrific clash.
Stay tuned; the last two books will be a scorching ride, and it’s still unclear who will survive.
Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series is published by Tor Books. You can find Suzanne on Twitter and on her daily book blog, Preternatura.