Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rachel Morgan

This blog post is about the Kim Harrison novels and so there will most definitely be spoilers regarding the story, right up to the last novel.

Last night Kim Harrison made me cry for the second time.

I have been reading Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series since probably August or September. Right around the time I finished reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries (I ran out). And I read the books nonstop until the first week of February when I finished the last book published and had to wait two and a half weeks for the next book to hit the shelves. Is anyone surprised that I ran across the road at work to preorder Black Magic Sanction as soon as I finished reading White Witch, Black Curse?

I started reading her books when my mother picked up the first two in a compilation book. So far, there are eight books out, with the possibility for three more. Which is great. It was hard to get into the Rachel Morgan series initially. You felt like you were jumping in mid-book, and at first I wondered whether or not I was reading a second book. This wasn’t the case. Kim Harrison’s universe is just so elaborate, that I imagine the only way you can become familiar with it is by continuously being there. It wasn’t created first hand in Dead Witch Walking, but seemed to have existed long before it. I like that, even if it was hard to understand at first.

By the end of the second book, The Good, the Bad, and the Undead I was hooked. I ended up running to the aforementioned bookstore and buying a copy of each of the novels in the series. And I’ve been reading ever since. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get through a book, and other times I’ll eat it right up. Kinda like what I’m doing right now with the latest one.

I love her characters so much. I hate the ones she wants me to hate, and I love the ones she wants me to love. And I have underlying feelings of love for ones that I initially hate. She’s good at changing your views of her characters without you realizing that’s her entire plan. They are complex people with pasts, and futures, and you wonder what has happened to them in the past to make them the way they are.

Kim Harrison may have made it difficult to draw just anyone in to her universe, but perhaps this is a good thing. My mother doesn’t seem to understand my obsession with the novels – but she’s only read two books. I’m on the eighth book, and I just can’t get enough of Rachel, Trent, Jenks, Ivy - everyone!

There’s one thing Kim Harrison is capable of that most authors aren’t. And that is to make me cry. Before I started reading Kim Harrison, my favourite series was the Dark Tower by Stephen King. I loved the characters immensely, and despite the narcissism he pulled when putting himself in his own story, I loved how he ended the series. I thought his work to be a great piece of art. And it is. He never made me cry. Not once. Not even when Jake died for the second time. Sure I felt a twinge, but you didn’t see tears streaming down my cheeks. And I certainly didn’t put the book down in anger at the author for killing someone off.

But Kim Harrison’s novels are different.

She doesn’t write up a storm like King does – well, her books are always 400+ pages long, so maybe I’m wrong. But she spends more time focusing on the characters themselves than on their surroundings. And I think that’s important. I would rather know what is going on inside of Rachel’s head than know exactly what colour the paint above the door she just passed through was.

I love that she uses the first person. Being inside Rachel’s head means I can’t get inside Trent’s head, or Nick’s head, or Kisten’s head. It means I have to wonder what is going on, just like Rachel does. Although sometimes I understand things better than Rachel, usually I’m just as lost.

What is going on between Rachel and Trenton? There is the surface hatred, and anger, but underneath are tones of attraction and connection that are hard not to miss, although Rachel seems oblivious to it. If I had to choose a character for her to end up with (aside from one other) I guess it would have to be Trent. I wouldn’t want her to be with Pierce, Nick, Lee, Marshall, David, etc.

Trent may have started out as the bad guy – someone we all hated – but he ended up being just as complex as Rachel, and I started having feelings aside from hatred for the character. He had his own battles to fight, and sure he didn’t fight them fair – but let’s face it, life can’t be either black or white. There’s always shades of grey. And isn’t that what the entire series is about? Just because something is labelled taboo doesn’t always mean it is wrong. It just depends on the circumstances.

Sure Trent is a coldblooded killer, there’s no denying that. But for him, it’s to save his own race. The plight of the elves has to account for some of what he’s done, right? I’m not trying to stand up for him, I’m just trying to see the good that is in his character. There is good in there… every now and then he does something for Rachel that doesn’t benefit himself, and it makes one wonder. Does he truly care for her, but tries to deny that fact even to himself? I would like to think so.

But I have most definitely digressed. Kim Harrison has made me cry twice now.

That first time… she killed Kisten.

She killed off Kisten. And she made me cry… silently, my back turned away from the people in the room, I wept for a character I had fallen in love with from the first time she had described him. Kisten had style, he had charm, charisma, and above all, he held my heart in the palm of his hand. I’ll be the first to admit that I love blue eyed vampires with long blonde hair *cough*EricNorthman*cough* with charisma. What can I say? Anne Rice lured me in to such a stereotyped vampire with Lestat and Marius. But it wasn’t just what Kisten looked like (after all, he did have to dye his hair that beautiful blonde). It was who he was that made me love him. The ability to teach Rachel how to dress sophisticated just by rummaging through the back of her closet. Wanting her to overpower him. I liked it all, every part of him.

And then she ended his life too soon. And I wept for the loss of a beautiful creation. I put down the book for two days, and refused to read. Mind you, it wasn’t so hard… after all, I was currently on vacation and actually quite busy. But I made a note of not reading. I was angry at Harrison for killing Kisten off. To this day I don’t agree with it, even if I understand why she did it. I disagree because it really hurt. But life isn’t all about fluffy clouds, and thorn less roses, now is it? So I suppose she made the books that much more real to me.

I’m now ready for Rachel to move on to someone else even as I write fanfictions about Kisten. I don’t want her with Pierce, although I do enjoy the chemistry between the two. Yes, I’m holding out for that bad-ass elf. Maybe it has to do with the hair thing?

Either way…

She killed another character off last night. It was a long time coming, and I’m not overly surprised she did it. But I certainly was surprised at how she did it. I cried for an entire chapter… how she wrote the grieving, the horror of what had happened. She’s an amazing author to get that kind of reaction out of me.

Some moments I’m laughing, and others I’m crying, but the entire time I’m constantly on the edge of my seat. She’s a damn good read, and I suggest to everyone who reads my blogs to pick up one of her books and give her a try. She might make you cry, but you know what? It’s worth it… because she’ll also bring you some amazing moments.

I dreamt last night of Jenks and his family. I’m not too surprised.

Good job, Kim Harrison. I’ve never been more impressed by an author’s ability to move me.

What am I going to do when I finish this book?

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