Review: Into the Woods by Kim Harrison ★★★★

Into the Woods by Kim Harrison
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Tales of the Hollows and Beyond #1
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
ISBN: 978-0061974328
Page Count: 384 Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Synopsis: Fans have fallen for bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan. Through banishment and road trips, deadly supernatural duels and lost loves, they have avidly cheered her on, eagerly awaiting the next instalment in her adventures. This collection of short works, published together in once volume for the first time, adds a whole new dimension to the Hollows saga, featuring tales involving Rachel and her coterie of friends and enemies. Untitled contains original works, including:

"Million Dollar Baby"-original novella about what happens when elven tycoon Trent Kalamack and Jenks the pixy team up to rescue Trent's daughter;

"Spider Web" and "Grace's Fall"-original novelettes set in brand-new fantasy worlds;

Here, too, are reprinted short stories, including:

"Undead in The Garden of Good and Evil"-an Ivy novella from Dates from Hell

"Dirty Magic"-a Mia the banshee short story from Hotter Than Hell

"The Bridges of Eden Park"-a Kisten/Rachel short from the mass market edition of For a Few Demons More

"Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel"-a Robbie/Rachel/Pierce novella from Holidays from Hell

"The Bespelled"-a Ceri/Al short story from the mass market edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails

"Ley Line Drifter"-a Bis/Jenks novella from Unbound


Fans have fallen for bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan. Through banishment and road trips, deadly supernatural duels and lost loves, they have avidly cheered her on, eagerly awaiting the next instalment in her adventures. This collection of short works, published together in once volume for the first time, adds a whole new dimension to the Hollows saga, featuring tales involving Rachel and her coterie of friends and enemies. Untitled contains original works, including:

"Million Dollar Baby"-original novella about what happens when elven tycoon Trent Kalamack and Jenks the pixy team up to rescue Trent's daughter;

"Spider Web" and "Grace's Fall"-original novelettes set in brand-new fantasy worlds;

Here, too, are reprinted short stories, including:

"Undead in The Garden of Good and Evil"-an Ivy novella from Dates from Hell

"Dirty Magic"-a Mia the banshee short story from Hotter Than Hell

"The Bridges of Eden Park"-a Kisten/Rachel short from the mass market edition of For a Few Demons More

"Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel"-a Robbie/Rachel/Pierce novella from Holidays from Hell

"The Bespelled"-a Ceri/Al short story from the mass market edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails

"Ley Line Drifter"-a Bis/Jenks novella from Unbound


REVIEW

 
Excellent anthology for Hollows super fans. 

 Like most people, I would assume, I rushed headlong to the new content, the first Trent centric novella, Million Dollar Baby. But before that, there are several other novellas and short stories of varying lengths that have all been previously released somewhere before; either in anthologies or at the end of a Hollows release. The problem I find with those antholgies, of course, is that if you only follow one, maybe two, of the authors included, they work out very costly for what you get.

So it's great, then, that all the shorts have been re-released in this format for the super fans to soak up and enjoy.

Here's a quick run-down of the previously released stories, some of which I'd read already.

The Bespelled is about everyone's favourite demon, Al. It was first published at the end of the Mass Market edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails (Where Demons Dare in the UK), and it shows Al in his earlier mind-set of use and abuse, before he met our Itchy Witch. The contrast to the Alycakes we know and love today is shocking! He was a nasty piece of work. It also features Ceri and provides an interesting glimpse into their relationship. This story was very short and sweet.

Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel is a much longer story about how an 18-year old version of Rachel met the forever soggy Pierce (I'm not a Pierce fan, can you tell?). It also provides a glimpse at the strained relationship between Rachel and her brother Robbie.

Undead in The Garden of Good and Evil is another decent length novella, this time following Ivy (and Kisten) and touches on some of the abuse Ivy has suffered at the hands of master vampire Piscary.

Dirty Magic is a short story about Mia the Banshee, who ended up being an antagonist on one of the main hollows stories.

The Bridges of Eden Park is a very short story, more like a short scene, actually, with Kisten and Rachel. I was never the biggest Kisten fan in existence, but he was a nice, amiable kind of guy and this story shows that side of him, so will be bitter-sweet for truer Kisten Fans.

Ley Line Drifter is a Jenks centric with a little side order of Bis. I wonder if Rachel ever will find out how her smallest spell pot got its dent...

And finally. Da da da da da da DAAAAH!

Million Dollar Baby! This was very good. It's written in third person following Trent on his Elf Quest with Jenks by his side (or on his shoulder, or under his hat). For anyone who's curious to know just how Trent managed to get Lucy away from the Withons, here's your answer.

Now, for the Rachel-Trent 'shippers out there (like me!), in comparison to the freaking amazing 1st person POV bonus chapter of A Perfect Blood we got the other day, this is not quite as squee-worthy or revealing of Trent's inner-most desires. But, even though Rachel isn't in the story (obviously) it's telling just how often she's in Trent's thoughts and how much her opinion of him matters.

Trent's an incredibly complex character. I am a bit in love with him as many of you will know, not only because I'm dying for something to happen with him and Rachel in the main series, but also just because his character is so unique! He's an insecure, slightly nerdish, constantly blushing, tight-ass Suit one minute. Then the next minute he's doing these amazing ninja moves and pulling a total James Bond on the Withon's fortress. The level of preparation alone is staggering. He may not be the most badass book hero out there, but he utilises what resources and skills he does have like no other. I thought he was incredibly brave and selfless in this story. It's easy to be brave when you aren't scared, and it's fair to say that Trent was absolutely terrified, which makes it all the more awesome that he was willing to do what he did, to do anything, actually, including dying, to get his daughter away from that cold-hearted bitch Ellasbeth!

Bonus Material.
At the end of all the Hollows stuff there was a couple of new bits and pieces that Kim Harrison has been working on, including Pet Shop Boys which you can also get as a separate Kindle ebook with a bonus chapter from the upcoming Ever After in it. It's fair to say I'll probably read anything Ms. Harrison produces from here on out, and she certainly seems to have some interesting avenues to explore, while staying firmly in my beloved Urban Fantasy genre. Can't wait!

All together a real treat for fans of the Hollows, especially if you've never read the other anthology stories before.  Highly recommended.

4 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided for an honest review.

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