Friday, March 20, 2020

REVIEW: Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond by Kim Harrison

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Into the Woods is a collection of short stories from the Hollows and beyond. While many of these stories take place in the Hollows universe, others are from a completely new world, engaging nonetheless.

Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison
Read 6/8–6/9/06 & 10/12–10/13/19
This is Ivy's story, before she meets Rachel and Jenks and starts Vampiric Charms. We learn a lot more about what makes Ivy tick, and how she comes to her decision to live blood-free as a living vampire. I don't think I enjoyed it quite as much as the full-length novels because I missed having Rachel and Jenks too, but still, I appreciate this story for what it is... a deeper look into Ivy's life pre-Rachel. :)
Rating: 7 stars

Dirty Magic by Kim Harrison
Read 10/14/19
This short story takes place in Kim Harrison's Hollows universe. Mia is a banshee previously introduced in the short story Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil. This is her story... I understand she's to become a major antagonist in the full-length Black Magic Sanction (book 8) so this is a good look into what makes her tick. I found it quite interesting and look forward to delving deeper into her character in an upcoming novel.
Rating: 7 stars

The Bridges of Eden Park by Kim Harrison
Read 10/18/19
A short tribute to Kisten, this short story actually takes place prior to For A Few Demons More. We briefly meet Kisten's sister Chrissie, who's ex-boyfriend is after her son. Rachel steps in to help and save the day. It's a decent story, quite short, but gives a brief glimpse into Kisten's feeling about children and shows him as a kind and tender soul.
Rating: 7 stars

Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel
Read 10/27 – 10/30/19
This is Rachel's story, before she joined the I.S. We get to meet Rachel's brother, Robbie whom we've heard about in the books. And we learn a little more about what makes Rachel tick and what prompted her decision to join the I.S. (before she eventually left with Ivy). At 84 pages long, this was more of a novella than a short story, and that made it even better... more time to flesh everything out. And the story about the ghost and how things go wrong is true Rachel. Loved this one! <3 Rating: 9 stars

Read 10/21/19
This is a short story that gives us more insight into the demon Algaliarept, "lovingly" referred to as Al throughout the series. This is pre-Ceri and we get to learn what makes him tick and how he came to be the demon he is today. Perfect timing to read it right after The Outlaw Demon Wails due to the major turning point taking place in that book. NO SPOILERS! :p
Rating: 8 stars

Ley Line Drifter
Read 12/7 - 12/9/19
This was a fun little Jenks and Bis short story, with a short Ivy appearance. Jenks takes on a job on his own and proves he's more than just a sidekick. And if I didn't already love Bis, this story would indeed win me over! We are introduced to a Dryad named Daryl who is mentioned in some later Hollows novels.
Rating: 8 stars

Million-Dollar Baby
Read 2/2/20 - 2/3/20
Remember in Pale Demon when Trent went off with Jenks on his elf quest? Well, this is that story... In it, we get to see Trent's self-doubt that he will be able to properly care for Lucy, his love for her the moment he set eyes on her, and his deep inner feelings on wanting to become a better person—one that doesn't turn to murder first when faced with trouble. We have really begun to see an entirely different side of Trent over the last couple books (Pale Demon & A Perfect Blood) and this story really brings all that home!
Rating: 7 stars

Non-Hollows Shorts

Pet Shop Boys
Read 2/8/20
This is the first of 4 non-Hollows-related short stories, and even though there was no Rachel, Ivy, or Jenks, Harrison's writing style still made it a joy to read nonetheless. The depiction of the darker side of Fairies—similar to blood-sucking vampires—is something that usually remains hidden from the eyes of most humans. Until one stumbles through the veil one night and has to fight for his life to escape!
Rating: 8 stars

Temson Estates
Read 2/8/20
This was a short 15 page story, but was a different take on dryads from what Ms. Harrison portrayed in Ley Line Drifter. An interesting read!
Rating: 6 stars

Spider Silk
Read 2/9/20
I really liked this story--which actually read more like the first few chapters of a book--since it definitely left me hanging at the end! I really would've liked to find out what happened to Kevin for one. I sincerely hope that Ms. Harrison considers taking this story further and gives us a full book, perhaps even jumping forward into Meg's adulthood, as I really enjoyed this glimpse.

The portrayal of the Dryad here is fierce but kind, loving yet cruel... it reminded me more of the Fae than any Dryad I've ever read about, the only minor difference being that they could be imprisoned within living trees—which I suppose is what makes them Dryad.
Rating: 8 stars

Read 3/17/20 - 3/18/20
A bit of a different take on magic, which focuses more on the transfer of energy and imbalances in the body, versus its usual association with witches or other Inderlander species like in the Hollows series. Throws, as they're known, have an imbalance of energy in their body such that they can do all sorts of things from shorting out electrical equipment to restarting someone's heart. But with all that power comes a need to control it, and that's where the Strand comes in. Grace is one such throw, having been discovered by the Strand in her mid teens and now working among their ranks—for anyone that refuses to work within the system must undergo a procedure to have it the "imbalance" burned out of them. Kinda like a lobotomy! So yeah, this is energy manipulation without any of the spiritual or magical stuff that goes along with it.

I found it an interesting angle, though I'm predisposed to enjoy the paranormal side of things more so than the science, so I can't say I liked it quite as much.
Rating: 7 stars

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