AH’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-
Into the Woods is a collection of short stories from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. The author has also included four new stories from outside this world as well. The first six stories have been published before, either in anthologies or as bonus material at the back of mass market paperbacks. The author adds a note at the beginning of each story providing background to the story and where it was originally published.
In rating these stories, I just couldn’t help myself. I am a hopeless fan girl of this series. While Rachel can be whiny and annoying, I still love her and all of the colorfully eccentric characters that surround her. I’ve rated this anthology a solid 4/5 Skulls. I enjoyed most of the Hollows stories equally.
Here is a rundown of the stories and my thoughts:
1.The Bespelled First published in the mass market paperback edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails.
This is the story of everyone’s favorite demon Al and how he seduced Ceri to the Ever After. Al is deliciously demonic and Ceri, no innocent herself, proves that if you play with fire (or demons) you WILL get burned.
2.Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel. First published in the Anthology Holidays are Hell.
This is the story of a much younger Rachel, prior to her becoming a runner for the I.S. It’s a nice background story and it gives insight into Rachel’s illness. The story also introduces some characters that appear in later books, like Tanaka and Pierce the ghost. Pierce has some humorous observations about modern life in this story.
3.Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil. First published in the anthology Dates from Hell.
This is Ivy’s story. Ivy and the men of her life: Piscary, Art, and Kisten. It is kind of a survival story, detailing Ivy’s abuse at the hand of Piscary, then later on her boss/partner Art. I loved her relationship with Kisten – he was her safe place. Mia the Banshee is introduced in this story. She’ll make an appearance in Black Magic Sanction. Lesson learned from this story: Don’t mess with Ivy – she gets even.
4.Dirty Magic. From the Hotter than Hell Anthology
Mia the Banshee is one scary character. Banshees are kind of like a psychic vampire, draining psychic energy from their victims. Factor in a mama banshee out to feed her extremely rare offspring, and you have a very scary character.
5.The Bridges of Eden Park. The death of a much loved character (I’m not spoiling) was a surprise even to the author. This story appears at the back of the mass market paperback edition of For a Few Demons More.
In this story, Rachel and Kisten help out Kisten’s sister Chrissie in her ongoing custody battle with Sean. This story kind of felt like a Western standoff (cue the music from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) involving witchcraft and vampires.
6.Key Line Drifter. From the Anthology Unbound.
This story is perfect for fans of Jenks the pixy and Bis the gargoyle. Ivy places a supporting role in this story, almost a “straight man vampire.” This story gives a lot of insight into the perils of pixy life, their high immortality rate, and their dedication to family and gardens. This story also includes paranormal creatures such as a dryad and nymph.
7.Million Dollar Baby – This story takes place during the events of Pale Demon where Trent and Jenks go off on an Elf Quest. Trent and Jenks head off to rainy Washington State to retrieve Trent’s 3 month old baby daughter Lucy from the bitchy Ellasbeth. Reading this gave me a renewed respect for Trent, as well as a respect for Jenks’ non-stop running commentary about life in general. If I ever need to rescue someone, I’d want someone like Jenks on my side.
Stories from Outside the Hollows – Not exactly my favorites, but entertaining nonetheless. The remaining stories are paranormal in nature and involve a different take on vampires, dryads, and a girl with special powers.
1.Pet Shop Boys.This story seems like a cross between vampire and fae lore. It reminded me a little of another vampire story with redheads, only these redheads changed hair color once they fed. A pet shop employee is invited to a party at Gateways, a wildly popular club. There is something sinister about the club and most of the patrons are redheaded. Neat twist at the end.
2.Temson Estates The first of two stories about dryads. In this case, the dryads are just spirits in the wood. When a young man inherits the woods and intends to sell, he is convinced to do otherwise because of the spirits in the trees.
3.Spider Silk Another story about dryads, though in this story, the dryad is an evil spirit who lures young girls away from their families. Surprising twist at the end.
4.Grace – This is the story of a woman with special powers, charged with collecting others with similar powers for her agency, The Strand. Interesting story with potential to become a full length novel.
Into the Woods is an enjoyable anthology. Fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series will love having all the short stories in one place. Recommended.
Rating: 4 Skulls
Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Voyager for a review copy of this book.
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