Book Book Book Book
Commentary Commentary RSS Reviews Podcasts_Audio Podcasts RSS Blog Links Archives Indexes
Kim Harrison
A Perfect Blood
Harper Voyager / HarperCollins
US Trade Hardcover First
ISBN 978-0-061-95789-5
Publication Date: 02-21-2012
438 Pages; $26.99
Date Reviewed: 03-12-2012
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2012

Index:  Fantasy  Horror  Science Fiction

Serial fiction requires plotting at two levels; within each novel and over the series as a whole, and they have to happen simultaneously in each novel. It's a delicate balancing act, but not the end of the story; we also need to see the character grow and change over the course of time as well. Kim Harrison delivers on all three levels and has room left over for a ripping yarn in 'A Perfect Blood,' the tenth book in the Hollows series.

Even this deep into the game, Harrison is finding new nooks and crannies for heroine Rachel Morgan to explore. The result is a novel that thrills when it wants to and satisfies when it needs to. Harrison has clearly learned the lesson that Rachel is in the process of learning, and with the great power of an author, she takes on the great responsibility of writing both a novel and an entry in a series of novels.

'A Perfect Blood' begins with a great, funny scene; Rachel is stuck in the DMV, trying to get her license, which is impossible because she's no longer a witch, but not yet a demon — by choice. She's caught in an absurd Catch-22, which should give readers an idea as to the sort of humor that runs through the novel, keeping it light and limber even when the killings begin. Soon enough, Rachel is called to the site of a grisly, surreal murder. Those behind it appear to be humans, members of HAPA (Humans Against Paranormal Activity), and their goal is essentially genocide of all things supernatural. The nature of the murder suggests they're well on their way to achieving that goal.

'A Perfect Blood' benefits from this toe-tapping storyline, but it's not alone. It also introduces some great new characters, in particular a duet of vampires, Nina (the clerk at the DMV) a low level "living" vampire and Felix, an ancient and powerful creature who makes use of Nina's body. It's a tribute to Harrison's writing skills that readers will be tempted to think Nina should be nominated for some sort of in-book performance award. Harrison effortlessly creates a complex interaction between Rachel, Nina and Felix that is really fascinating to read. Returning characters get interesting new gigs as well, as Harrison infuses a nice bit of romantic ambiguity into the relationship between Rachel and Trent. But the romance here is nuanced, dialed back from any overheated prose. There are also a variety of domestic scenes with the supernaturals that are charming, funny and entertainingly surreal.

Harrison does not hold back on the plot and the set pieces, which are compelling and exciting. She knows how to create her geography, and how to hurtle Rachel and her crew into perilous and horrific situations. But she is also quite adept at slotting these into the much larger arc of the series as a whole. We may not know where this is all going — we shouldn't at this point — but the story is clearly converging on an endgame.

Readers who might have been wondering whether or not the series was going to deliver, and holding off in this regard should start at the beginning and look for the rewards of this novel down the line. If you're already invested in the Rachel Morgan story arc, you should find this a perfectly delightful series entry, snapping at the heels of the characters and the plot in a lively and entertaining manner.

For all the gore and weirdness in this novel, there's a wonderfully light-hearted overall feel. Harrison seems to have a bit of the screwball comedy writer in her, just a tiny notch that keeps matters dire but never dour. 'A Perfect Blood' is just the sort of novel that series readers look forward to; fat and full of new stuff, fast-paced and exciting, but familiarly fun. The opening scene really nails it; a witch from the bad dreams of our childhood stuck in the bureaucratic hell of our adult life — and she's the one we identify with. We've become our own nightmares, stuck in the nightmares we have so cleverly created.

Review Archive
All Reviews alphabetized by author.

General Fiction
Non-Genre, general fiction and literature.

Supernatural fiction, supernatural horror and non-supernatural horror.

Science Fiction
Science fiction, science fantasy, speculative fiction, alternate history.

Fantasy, surrealism and magic realism.

Crime, thrillers, mystery, suspense.

Non-Fiction, True Crime, Forteana, Reference.


Archives Indexes How to use the Agony Column Contact Us About Us