REVIEW: A Perfect Blood

Kim Harrison
A Perfect Blood (Rachel Morgan #10)
Harper Voyager
ISBN-10: 0061957895
ISBN-13: 978-0061957895
Urban fantasy
February 21, 2012

*There might be a few spoilers, ye be warned.

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the I.S. and the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: a human hate group is trying to create its own demons to destroy all Inderlanders, and to do so, it needs her blood.

She’s faced vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more, but humanity itself might be her toughest challenge yet.

I’m still trying to play catch-up with this place and realized the other day that this better happen now lest I forget everything I’ve read at the beginnings of 2012. When I saw that – gasp-o-saurus – I hadn’t reviewed the latest in my Most Bestest Book Series Evah, I was more than a little ashamed. Disappointed. Right cross with myself. That sort of thing. I’ve been in a really weird place book-blogging-wise this year and I’ve lost pretty much all my mojo. It feels like being a newborn blogger again and wondering what the heck to talk about. It feels this way with this book because, for the first time in years, the current installment did not up the series ante for me.

If you’ve been to this here space before you might know how much I love these books. I’ve always felt immensely satisfied after finishing a Rachel Morgan book. I’ve always felt each book surpasses the previous one. This time it felt like we were pretty much just sitting in the same spot as before and didn’t move an inch. It finally happened, the dreaded placeholder book. While things, they happen, and characters, they do the things that make things happen, I don’t really feel as if the series itself or the characters developed much further if any from where the previous book left off. This isn’t exactly what I was hoping for when the series is technically winding down. There’s only two or so books left. Shouldn’t each book be continuing to light the ‘ole fuse? I wanted to feel such an explosive bang at the end of A Perfect Blood, but it was lukewarm at best.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t also enjoy A Perfect Blood. There are many things I felt carried through for me: the comfort of falling into a series I love – still there. The perfect timing of levity when things are looking their most bleak – still there. My absolute love and adoration for Rachel Morgan as one of the best urban fantasy heroines today – STILL. There. Do I stil want to read the next book as voraciously as I look forward to doing every year. You bet your sweet ass.

So assurances aside, let’s try to get into the who’s, what’s, why’s, and the what-the-hell’s.

The reason I’ve been a little reluctant to review this one — a complete shocker and let-down as a huge fan of the series — is because I felt a disconnect with a lot of it. I was supremely annoyed by some parts. I did like the plot and I still continue to appreciate that, even as long as the series has become, Harrison doesn’t mock readers by leaving them with no answers. Each book continues to introduce new questions, but it also answers some in turn. This is a basic yet very important part of any book, series or not. (By the way, AnimeJune gives an excellent example of why this is, here.) But at the end of the day, this felt like a big placeholder book, and I doubt any reader enjoys feeling like they’re being put on hold. This came in more with character development in A Perfect Blood as opposed to plot lines.

The urban fantasy heroine is a much abused one. Abused by enemies, frenemies, and this time I would say that Rachel takes an increased serving of abuse from her near and dear friends as well. Her once-steadfast relationship with her work partners, the beyond complex vampire Ivy and the always hilarious Pixie, Jenks, has been a little rocky for a while now. While it seemed at first in this one that they were finally going to give her a break, I felt a lot of frustration increasing when they instead make Rachel feel so bad that she actually begins apologizing outright for all the craptagious things that have happened surrounding her. Things that weren’t her fault. Things people are pressuring her into doing – including the alpha werewolf David that she shares equal status with as his reigning female alpha. Maybe I love Rachel’s character a little too much, but it’s a little nauseating to see her basically capitulating to everyone this time, bowing and scraping to take the blame for everything anyone sees fit to blame her for. Rachel has done a hell of a lot for her friends, and she’s sacrificed much. They have in turn for her as well, but you won’t find Rachel looking to literally cancel her ties to them because Ivy can’t completely let her blood lust for Rachel go, etc. Jenks comes with his own inconveniences, namely a family of pixie children large enough to run Disney World by themselves and be its energy source as well, and who live in Rachel’s and Ivy’s home much of the time and are shrill and ill-behaved – but you don’t see Rachel kicking them out of the garden. Or the house, not permanently. In case it’s not obvious, I’m annoyed that one of the previously best things about the series, their friendship, has taken this, frankly, shitty turn.

Things happen in the book to somewhat make up for it, though. Rachel unfortunately finds herself at the mercy of, shockingly, humans. This was part of what at least made the plot a saving grace. It’s not often you see humans offer up any sort of real resistance or chance of one against such magically or supernaturally powerful characters like vampires and witches. Humans are usually the stereotypical cattle, too weak and/or dumb to offer up much of a fighting chance at fighting anything but a puppy. This time we have some truly scary humans practicing magic and out to use Rachel for her, spoiler spoiler, demon blood. And they give her and everyone else looking to stop them a true run for their money. While I don’t like Rachel getting hurt, as she does, badly every book, we get a top-rate urban fantasy experience because the baddies are 100% dedicated to being sick, evil sicko bastards. Harrison is still magical in her ability to put Rachel through the wringer,but once again with purpose and not merely for shock value.

I have to admit a big, looming disappointment for me this time was the lack of romantic development. These books are so not romances, but there has always been just the right amount of romantic undertone throughout the series, and yes, it’s been in relation to several different male characters over the years. But trust me, this is nowhere near L.K. Hamilton defcon EEEWWW level. Rachel has always enjoyed men and she’s never been shy about displaying that admiration. Given how much I love her character, I do want to see her happy. Harrison has promised that by the end of the series, Rachel will be so. But. I felt as if this was being dangled at me this time, like that proverbial carrot. What’s with that? No, it was the proverbial cheesecake. That’s more enticing and that’s how bad it felt to me this time. Let’s lay it on the table – Rachel and Trent. The romantic white elephant shoved every bit of furniture, doodad and person out of the room, that’s how huge it was and in need of the space. They were on the verge of a huge romantic development so many times alone in this book that I wanted to throw it. This series, throw it? Look, that is not acceptable to me. I do not get so frustrated with a Rachel Morgan book that I want to throw it. What sucks the most is that by the end of the book, I felt absolutely zero assurance that their relationship would go in either direction. It was a huge question mark for me and it made for a disappointing book on some levels. That being said, there are some good scenes with the two of them, but they weren’t enough to keep the frustration at bay.

Before reading this one, I downloaded it for Honey Child (my K Fire reader) with all the usual bursting excitement I’ve had for every previous book. I really looked forward to doing a review and digging deep into the book like I have with the others. Instead, I find myself too disappointed that I didn’t all-out love this one, too. I’m just middle of the road with it, which is like limbo for me.

Harrison is still a fantastic writer in my book. I love the Hollows series no less. I cannot wait to read the next book, but this is, unfortunately, that book in the series, the one that felt undercooked. I honestly never thought this series would have one, not for me.

Rating: Three Scoops

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