Sometimes you wait a year for the next book in the series and you are disappointed. Other times, you wait a year and when you finish it you are pretty happy, until you realize that now you have to wait a whole 'nother year for the next one. In this case, I was happy with the book, and can't believe I have to wait another year for the next one.
There are a number of reasons to read a series as opposed to individual books. One of the great things about a series is that you can watch a character grow over time. And Rachel seems to be in the process of finally trying to grow up.
Sure, she's all grown up when it comes to taking care of herself. She can fight with the best of them now. Literally. Between her brains and her abilities she's a force to be reckoned with. But as far as making good life decisions? Well, she's working on it. She no longer just does whatever strikes her fancy, she actually stops to think it through now. And while we may laugh at her when she declares "it wasn't my fault", much of the time it isn't her fault. She reacts to bad situations the best way she knows how. In the past perhaps she created those bad situation she had to react to, but now they just kind of land in her lap.
The last book, The Outlaw Demon Wails, answered a whole lot of questions. I think that we're now in the "forming new questions" and "creating new plotlines" phase of the series, but that is perfectly okay. Kim Harrison is a master, and I can't wait to see where she takes us with these new questions and new plotlines. We did have at least one big question answered in this book. This is out there so much that I don't think it's a spoiler to say that we finally find out who killed Kisten. And why.
There is one thing about this book that I have mixed feelings about: There are three short stories, printed in three anthologies, that are pretty critical to the main plot of this story. If you haven't read the short story "Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil" included in the anthology Dates From Hell, then you'll be pretty much lost through a good portion of the book. The same goes for the short in Holidays Are Hell - without reading that story then much in this story won't make sense. It's helpful to have read the story in Hotter Than Hell as well, but probably not as critical. I've read some reviews from a few people who obviously have not read these short stories. A few of them are pretty lost when it comes to trying to understand White Witch Black Curse. In general, I don't like anthologies. I don't like paying full price for a book when there are only one or two short stories in each book that interest me. I don't mind spending money on books so an author can keep writing. But if I'm going to spend money I want to get a full story. Not a short story or two. And being forced to buy five or more short stories when there is only one or two I'm interested in, bothers me. So I'm conflicted that these shorts are this important to the series. It feels like a marketing trick. But, that is the subject for another blog post, for now I'll just say I have conflicted feelings around it.
All in all, I enjoyed White Witch, Black Curse. There were more than a few LOL moments, there were a few teary eyed moments, and there was some stuff designed for deep thought. I had looked forward to seeing Rachel in the ever-after getting her lessons and was a bit disappointed that we didn't really get to see that, but not so disappointed that it took away from the book.
One of the things this series does is make you think about that whole villain thing. We are introduced to a villain, we see them do really bad things, and it is easy to hate them. But then we are introduced to their reasons, we get to know them a bit, see them as people. And suddenly it's hard to hate them. I think we've gotten to know Trent enough that we understand what makes him do the things he does. There may yet be some surprises, but at this point I think we know him pretty well. I'm very curious to know what else we are going to learn about Al. He was the uber-villain for so long that it's hard to get used to this new truce that he and Rachel seem to have formed. It's a shaky truce, but with a few tweaks here and there it seems to be holding. Mostly.
The series is most definitely not stagnating - characters are still growing and learning, and there are still dozens of plot lines heading in all directions with no clue of how they may all come together at some point. And we got a new character in this book. I'm really curious to see how that plays out.
I'll give this book a 9 of 10. It probably would have received a 10 of 10 if it wasn't so heavily dependent on three anthologies. The series remains a 10 of 10, and it remains as one of my top five favorite series.
Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 10 of 10
* Dead Witch Walking (April 2004)
* The Good, The Bad, And The Undead (January 2005)
* Every Which Way But Dead (June 2005)
* A Fistful of Charms (June 2006)
* For a Few Demons More (March 2007)
* The Outlaw Demon Wails (February 2008)
* White Witch, Black Curse (February 2009)