The first time I saw a Kim Harrison novel, I was working at Vans News in Terrace, BC [now closed]. I was going through our new book shipment, and I spied two books with punny titles. The books were Dead Witch Walking and The Good, the Bad, and the Undead. I didn’t even bother reading the synopses. The titles amused enough to buy them both. I read them both in a single day, and I’ve read each subsequent novel upon release. They were super-entertianing fluff. It was no different with A Perfect Blood. I’ve been waiting ages. It seems that way, anyway. I was excited to see where things would go with Al, Trent, and Rachel. In fact, the novel released before A Perfect Blood, Pale Demon, set up more Al, Trent, and Rachel development. I was expecting it, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Several friends who have thoroughly enjoyed the Hollows series thus far were nearly certain that would be the direction Harrison would take with A Perfect Blood.
Without putting any definitive plot spoilers in this review, I admit I was extremely disappointed with the way this novel turned out. Instead of an exciting novel filled with Al being unpredictable, Trent being ethically challenged, and Rachel fumbling, but firmly moving toward some sort of end game with either Al, Trent, or both of them while losing a little more of her childish and naive traits, we get a novel that was rife with something completely unexpected and not exactly in a good way. Frankly, if Pale Demon hadn’t set us up for something more, this novel wouldn’t have been as hollow a reading experience as it was.
If a person were to choose A Perfect Blood as their first foray into the Hollows, it wouldn’t make for a good introduction to the series. This particular story was so weak that a reader who didn’t know any better might mistake it for a first work rather than the 10th in a series. They wouldn’t realize it’s been as good as it has so far, and they certainly wouldn’t see why fans have been making a fuss about the series for years.
Rachel finally gets her pack tattoo, but it’s drug out to a painful degree. The introduction of HAPA was interesting in that it’s clear certain things are potentially occurring between Rachel (and the demons) and Trent (and the elves) and both of these races will likely need some other group to combine against (or not). The book just was not as exciting with the action as it usually is. There were a couple of tangents going on, but not to the degree they usually do. It was like someone else was playing at writing in the world of the Hollows and Kim Harrison was on vacation.
It wasn’t until the very end of A Perfect Blood that Al finally made an appearance. That made me sad. Al is great. In the previous novels, Harrison spent at least a nominal amount of time developing Ivy’s character but not this time. Jenks was developed more than anyone else. While he’s an adorable character, he hasn’t really been developed as evenly as the others, so it was odd to see that much time spent on him and no one else. This 10th Hollows book fell flat in character development department. A couple of new characters were introduced, and I can see a use for them later on.
I hope A Perfect Blood does not signal the beginning of the end of a good series. The series needs an end, obviously, but I’d rather it end in a great way instead of being feeling strained and sloppy. Hopefully, this was somewhat of a filler novel where Kim Harrison was taking a chance with an awkward story and a world shift rather than displaying the start of burnout. Sometimes, when an author is under contract for a certain amount of novels with a publisher, their worlds and stories start taking an obvious nose dive.
Of course I’ll read the next novel. I’m invested at this point. The end of A Perfect Blood gave a tiny glimmer of excitement for the future of the series. Harrison’s effectively set up the next book in a way that it should be a fantastic installment. That’s what I thought at the end of Pale Demon though. She could even use the set up to end the series in a great way or start a spin-off with the “next generation” of Hollows characters. I worry the Hollows has gotten hollow.
I’m holding out for the next one to decide whether Kim Harrison is the possible victim of her publisher’s demands for a novel while refusing to give her an extension on the release date or if the series is actually done. It’s worth a read, especially if you’re invested this far, to see the direction the series may be going, but it certainly wasn’t worth 400 pages.