Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison (review)

Every Which Way But Dead
Kim Harrison

Review by Carolyn Hill

In Every Which Way But Dead, the third novel in the Hallows series, Rachel Morgan continues the ongoing battle for her soul with the demon Algaliarept and becomes entangled in a turf war between rival supernatural gang lords.

Bloody battles both physical and magical abound, but at center stage is Rachel’s struggle to define herself in an increasingly tangled web of relationships. As new people come into her life and old friends and acquaintances shift alliances, Rachel wonders whom to trust. Sexy vampires who bite? A powerful elf lord who kills? A human boyfriend who’s afraid of her? A roommate who wants to jump her bones? A pixy partner who isn’t good at keeping secrets? A toothsome werewolf who offers a sweet deal on health insurance? Can she even trust herself, knowing that she’ll do anything to survive?

Readers of the series may be surprised by the choices Rachel makes. But she is changing as she deals with the consequences of her actions in the first two books and as she learns more about her father’s death, his friendship with the father of her erstwhile enemy Trent Kalamack, and her own illness as a child. Becoming ever more powerful, she faces hard truths about herself: about her use of demon magic, about her craving for danger, and about her relationship with Ivy, her lesbian vampire roommate, as it becomes increasingly clear that Ivy wants to be far more than friends.

To satisfy her craving for danger (and, readers may suspect, to stave off her attraction to Ivy), Rachel turns to the sexy male vampire Kisten, Ivy’s old friend. Dating a vampire without getting bitten (either by Kisten or by an understandably agitated Ivy) is no easy task—and not entirely a sane choice. But Kisten meets Rachel’s needs in ways that Nick, her human boyfriend, never could: unlike Nick, Kisten isn’t afraid of her growing power, and unlike Nick, Kisten won’t dump her because of fear.

If you’ve read the first two books in the Hallows series, you’ll enjoy watching relationships develop in this third book. But if you haven’t read the first two, you probably won’t be entirely satisfied. Although Every Which Way But Dead can stand alone, its impact depends in part on a reader’s prior investment in the characters, and its ending leaves several tantalizing issues unresolved. But for loyal readers, Every Which Way But Dead offers a sizzling, sexually charged, emotional transition between the entertaining events in the first two books and the explosive outcome in the fourth.

What do you think?