This is yet another urban fantasy series where supernatural creatures rub shoulders with the rest of us mere mortals, with often spellbinding consequences.
Set in Cincinnati after a plague triggered by a mutant form of tomato has decimated the human population, Rachel Morgan is a witch who makes a living as a runner and bounty hunter. She has taken her fair share of hits and has broken lines she swore she would never cross. But when her vampire lover was murdered, it left a deeper wound than Rachel ever imagined and now she won’t rest until his death is solved… and avenged. Whatever the cost. Yet the road to hell is paved with good intentions and when a new predator moves to the apex of the Inderlander food chain, Rachel’s past comes back to haunt her. Literally…
Those of you who haven’t yet sampled the delights of Harrison’s work and are considering picking this book up, my advice to you is – don’t. Like all genres, urban fantasy comes in varying levels of complexity and while I wouldn’t claim that White Witch, Black Curse is a particularly demanding read, it is a chunky 552 pages. Which is a long time to be floundering around in a morass of unfamiliar words and names, while you attempt to get a grip on the extensive cast of characters and exactly what they do. Especially as the author doesn’t attempt to do a ‘Story So Far’. Go back to the start of this excellent series and read Dead Witch Walking.
Rachel’s story is told in first person POV with pleasing complexity and – like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books – issues started in previous stories continue to develop throughout the series, rather than just pop up in one book, never again to be mentioned. Her world stands out as being particularly well-rounded and three-dimensional with plenty of tension between the different races, nicely filtered through Rachel’s viewpoint.
Inevitably, the series is getting steadily darker as the storylines progress and Harrison effectively portrays Rachel’s grief at her lover’s death without slowing down the action-packed plot. That said, there are lighter moments and the relationship between Rachel, her vampire friend Ivy and the pixie Jenks has a nice mix of humour and edginess.
I’m conscious that a number of folk are starting to roll their eyes at the torrent of books coming out with supernatural heroines stalking the streets. However, I still thoroughly enjoy a paranormal whodunit in a well-written world with a convincingly conflicted protagonist – and Harrison’s Rachel Morgan is right up there with the best of the best.