Book Review: Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

{DISCLAIMER: I was given a free digital copy of this book at the time it was published, for review.
All opinions and views are my own.}

 

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I remember the first book I picked up in this series, thinking, “This is labeled urban fantasy? Do I even like urban fantasy? I don’t think I do….” But a synopsis or a quote from a reviewer, something caught my eye and I read it anyway. I was intrigued. I laughed so hard (Jenks the pixie and his derogatory Tink comments, oh boy!) and I was unnerved and completely hooked. It was like nothing I’d ever read before.

PALE DEMON by Kim Harrison is yet another amazing reading experience in a long line of amazing reads. This book in the series throws Trent, Ivy, Jenks, and Rachel—as well as a few other characters they pick up along the way— into a car on a road trip. Why? Rachel doesn’t know, Trent won’t tell her—and let the tension commence! Trying to get Trent to California in one piece, something Rachel promised Quen she’d do, is going to be harder then she thought. The wild-Elven-magic wielding assassins, the witch coven on her tail and Jenks going missing are just the start of this mysterious road trip. Throw in a soul-devouring demon that seems impossible to defeat, some breath-taking fight scenes, and the roller coaster that is Rachel’s relationship with Al (or Trent for that matter!) and you’ll be alternating between highs and feeling wrung out. And the end? It leaves you flipping pages in disbelief! “It can’t end there, can it?”

I love the twisty-turniness of Kim Harrison’s books that keep you guessing until the end. The character Rachel Morgan has grown exponentially and is so real, you feel like you must have met her at some point in your life. Every time Rachel is in a corner, I read all the more eagerly, knowing she’s going to pull something out of absolutely nowhere to send us flying in disbelief at her ingenious escape. This is usually followed by the author mercilessly slamming us with a plot twist! You literally cannot guess what is going to happen next. The author knows her world better then we the readers do and her world is expansive in a way that keeps the author from painting herself into a corner. Not in a way that is uncomfortable for us as the readers, if that makes sense; we feel safe, like walking through the uncertainty that is Wonderland, but having Alice holding our hand the entire time.

I love, love, love Kim Harrison’s Rachel Ward series and I highly recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in urban fantasy with a complex female character or who likes magic, mayhem, witches and bounty hunters! Oh alright, there’s also vampires, pixies, werewolves and elves!  Something for everyone!

 

How “The Little Engine That Could” Perpetuates Gender Stereotypes

{This post, originally written on my Blogger supported blog in 2009, attracted the attention of NPR. Yeah, I don’t know how that happened either, but there it is! Here is the link to the article where I am mentioned. The link back to this blog in the article is now broken, but my name is still there. Someone from NPR apparently tried to reach me via FB in the days before the recording, to see if I wanted to be interviewed, and trusty dusty Facebook stashed their message in my “Other” folder. So I missed it. Sigh. What can you do? —L}

So I’m reading the Little Engine that Could to my boys, and I notice something very suddenly: the Little Engine is female. And the two engines that refused to help the clown and toys were both male. Hmmmm…..
I start paying closer attention to what I’m actually reading and notice a few things:

1. The male trains are described as new and shiny and the other as big and tough. The Little Engine is “a small engine. A very small engine, but maybe she can help us.” Only maybe? C’mon. She’s a woman, of course she can help you! And could they get more stereotypical? Me man, me big and strong. You woman, you small and weak. Sexist pig author.

2. The clown and other toys tell her the children will have nothing if she doesn’t pull the train over the mountain. Well of course! The stupid male trains wouldn’t lift a finger to get the kids fed and make sure they had age-appropriate toys, noooo, it’s assumed the woman will take care of that!

3. Added bonus: they guilt her into it. How many women are susceptible to guilt trips, especially where children are involved? Raise your hands. How many have guilted yourselves into things because of your children?! Go on, raise your hands. It’s all about the honesty here!

4. The Little Engine immediately doubts herself and lists the reasons why she can’t do the job: she’s never pulled a train before (like that matters!), she only works at the train yard (this is a metaphor for stay at home moms!!) so she’s not sure she can help (the SAHM trying to break back into the work force no less!). Why does she have such low self-esteem I ask you?

5. Both the male trains had no problem telling the clown “no.” The Little Engine hems and haws and tries to list reasons why she can’t do it, but agrees anyway, even though she’s obviously overwhelmed at the thought….sound familiar? Women can’t say No. Everyone knows that. Alternatively, when a woman says No, she doesn’t really mean it. Put on your persuasive hat! I’m s

ure you can convince her to change her mind! Go!

6. She has to work very hard to get the kiddies their crap, I mean, their “toys and good food to eat,” pulling that damn train all night. You know those mean male trains aren’t workin’ all night! Does your husband give you the ol’ “but I have to get up and go to work tomorrow and you don’t” routine at 2am with a puking kid? Typical.

7. Finally, after pulling all night, she makes it over the fricken mountain in time to see the sunrise and for some reason is very pleased with herself. What message is this meant to convey? “That’s right girls, take on way more than you should, work hard, twenty-four-seven as a matter of fact, and you can get it all done; there really is such a thing as Supermom! Just look at that Little Engine go! You can too!”

I think I might throw this book out…wouldn’t want my boys (or my daughter) getting any crazy ideas…

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