Title: Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond (Anthology)
Plot Type: UF
Publisher: HarperCollins (10/2012)
All four of the non-HOLLOWS stories are new and never published. "Million-Dollar Baby," one of the HOLLOWS novellas is also brand new. Here's how the math works out: Of the 513 pages in this chunky anthology, 71% are HOLLOWS stories and 29% are non-HOLLOWS stories. The five never-before-published works comprise 44% of the book.
Even though most of the HOLLOWS stories in this anthology have been previously published in various venues, this is still a nice background collection for any true fan of the series, and "Million-Dollar Baby" (the new story) is definitely a must-read. "Grace" is the best of the non-HOLLOWS stories. Click HERE to read my review of the HOLLOWS series.
In this novella, we get a full explanation of the difference between the living vampires and dead vampires who populate the HOLLOWS series. Ivy and Kisten are living vampires: "Having been born with the vampire virus embedded into her genome, Ivy enjoyed a measure of the undeads' strengths without the drawbacks of light fatality and pain from religious artifacts...Her hearing and strength were beyond a human's and her sense of smell was tuned to the softer flavors of sweat and pheromones. The undeads' need for blood had been muted from a biological necessity to a bloodlust that imparted a high like no other when sated...addictive when mixed with sex." (p. 105) Living vamps are at the mercy of dead vamps, who put out powerful sexual pheromones that pull living vamps under their sexual control. "Bloodlust in living vampires was tied to their sex drive, an evolutionary adaptation helping ensure an undead vampire would have a willing blood supply to keep him or her sane. Being 'bidden for blood' imparted a sexual high; the older and more experienced the vampire, the better the rush, the ultimate, of course, being blood-bidden by a powerful undead undead." (p. 109) This is what happened to Ivy at an early age when Piscary, her powerful dead vampire master, subjected her to years of mental and sexual torture that addicted her to his "charms." In her introduction to the story, Harrison says, "The depth of her mental abuse is touched upon here, and it is also here that it's easiest to see why she stays with Rachel, who is both her crutch and her saving grace." (p. 103)
This story follows Ivy as she tries to keep herself from succumbing to sexual blood lust generated by her IS partner, Art, a sleazy dead vampire who is determined to seduce her. At this point in the series, Ivy and Kisten are sex-and-blood-sharing roommates living above Piscary's restaurant. (It's great to see Kisten again; my heart is still broken over his demise.) As Ivy turns the tables on Art, her actions result in great satisfaction for her, but cause the IS to punish her—demoting her and forcing her to partner up with a troublesome new witch named Rachel Morgan. Click HERE to read my reviews of Harrison's HOLLOWS graphic novels, which are told from Ivy's point of view during her early days with Rachel.
L uu"Dirty Magic" (short story, 19 pages)
Principal Characters: Rachel and Kisten
If you read Pale Demon (Book 9) and have been dying to know exactly how Trent and Jenks rescued Trent's baby (Lucy) from her mother's castle stronghold, this novella holds all the answers. Basically that's what the story is all about. At this point in his life, Trent is afraid that he is becoming as much of a monster as his father was. Trent is quick to kill his enemies (rather than just incapacitate them). He kind of enjoys going in for the kill, and he hates that part of himself. As he and Jenks make their way to the castle in a series of adventures that are frequently improvised, Trent wonders if he is doing the right thing—if he has it in him to be a good father—if his daughter can ever love a man like him. Jenks, with his direct manner and to-the-point comments, helps Trent make peace with himself. The scene in which Trent sees Lucy for the first time is lovely, even under the strained conditions in which it occurs.