A Bunch of Reasons to Read The Turn

March 9, 2017     Michelle     Book Reviews

A Bunch of Reasons to Read The TurnThe Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #0.1
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Series Rating:

Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce fans and readers to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan's world as they've never seen it before!

Can science save us when all else fails?

Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government's new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved.

Kal surreptitiously works against her as Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found.

Kim Harrison is one of those authors where even if I hear crap reviews, I’m likely to pick up her books. I haven’t been as big a fan of her YA books, but The Hollows series has long been one of my favorites. So it’s no surprise I jumped at the opportunity to read this one!

And I was NOT disappointed 🙂 I loved getting to see how the world so unique to The Hollows series came to be the way it was.

Complicated and cohesive worldbuilding

One of the things that I have always loved about Harrison’s writing is that she keeps a wonderful balance of science, magic, and the mundane. Not only do these aspects all exist side-by-side in her worlds, but they are integrated. Science supplements the magic, magic supplements the science, and the mundane keeps everything in perspective. I admire authors who can do this so seemlessly with their worldbuilding.

And the worldbuilding in general is just so incredibly thorough. Harrison’s books explore human politics, supernatural Inderlander politics, economics, operational logistics, law enforcement, history … You name it, and I’ll bet that Harrison has at least thought about it, if not incorporated it directly.

The magic systems are so varied but so CONSISTENT and integrate well

One of my favorite things about reading fantasy like this is just thinking through how things work. It’s pretty common knowledge that fantasy books really let authors make their own rules and devise their own magic systems. There are some standard themes that tend to pop up more often than others (light vs dark magic, nature vs blood magic, etc), but it’s up to every fantasy author to really make their magic system their own.

Harrison not only takes one system and one theme, but employs several. The elves use one type of magic. The witches use another. The demons use yet another. There are overlaps and parallels and different sides of a coin (a very multi-faceted coin). And yes, strictly speaking, these things are all VERY inextricably related to each other, but there are nuances that make them different.

While this is particularly evident in The Hollows series as Rachel learns the ropes of a new system, I was happy to see that The Turn really explored some of those depths as well.

Some favorite characters from the Hollows with a great backstory

Seriously, some of my FAVORITE characters were back. Well, one favorite in particular, who played a surprisingly large role. (I WAS SO EXCITED!) And several others were referred to or played some fairly substantial roles.

My lips are sealed on the specifics. Just know that I was happy. And had a GREAT time recognizing names and going “Oh! It’s them!” and pointed at the book excitedly. (My husband MAY have accused me of insanity.) (This is nothing new).

The new characters were very nicely done.

I loved to hate Kal. Seriously, he was a condescending ass in all the best ways. As any Kalamack should be.

Trisk was BADASS throughout most of the book. It was so nice to have a female elf really play a major role in this world/series. And since she was a female researcher in the sixties, there were some necessary feminist themes, but they were appropriately placed, I thought. Toward the end she kind of caved more than I would have liked. Since the outcome pretty much had to be the background we all know from The Hollows, there weren’t really a TON of options, so I can’t complain too much. But … Well, I was disappointed with how readily she went from fighting everyone to acquiescing.

Pixies are awesome, as always. We don’t get Jenks, since that would be an insane life span for a pixie. But we have another one who did a splendid job of really setting the stage for the idea that pixies can be useful in the new ranks of the world. I had to grin at her antics and curses.

As background stories / prequels go, I LOVED this one

We knew what was going to happen the entire time, and yet somehow that added to the suspense. And, I mean, it takes some serious craftsmanship to make a book about genetically engineered tomatoes interesting and exciting. At first when I saw that this book was being released, I thought to myself “She’s seriously writing a book about tomatoes. And near-extinction of the human race.” And I was like “Whoa, I have GOT to read that.”

She did not disappoint. Seriously, you guys. I feel like I learned about genetic engineering AND found the tomatoes to be interesting! And in spite of the heavy science concept, it was SUPER easy to understand, and there was still PLENTY of action.

The ending was kind of rushed.

This is probably my one real complaint. There was a fairly nice pace going, and then all of a sudden everything got wrapped up with a tidy little bow and set aside. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good conclusion. But it all happened AT ONCE. And there was a tiny part of me that felt as if some of the characters just agreed to certain things because that’s what had to happen to make it work, rather than because they actually WOULD in that situation.

For that matter … The pacing in general could have been improved a bit? There were parts that were WAY more drawn out than necessary and could have been heavily condensed. And then, like the ending, parts that felt rather rushed. It worked for me, but if you’re sensitive to these kinds of pacing changes in books, be warned.

Overall, Highly recommended!

If you’ve read ANY of The Hollows books, I definitely recommend this one! I suspect it would make a good standalone as well, but you might be as thoroughly entertained by some of the references without some experience with the main series.

Rating Report
Writing Style
  • Yes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with the Kalmack personalities does it. This was such a blast and I am so hoping she does a trilogy with this!

    • Michelle

      Oh, that would be so awesome! I would love to see more books with these characters 🙂

  • I’ve never read anything by this author, but this really sounds awesome! I’ll have to check out her books for sure!

    • Michelle

      They’re really quite enjoyable! You technically probably COULD read this as a standalone, but I’d suggest reading the rest of The Hollows series first because she makes so many references that just enhance the reading experience of this prequel 🙂

  • I haven’t read any of this author her books yet, but I have heard of her. You got my attention when you mentioned the thorough world building as that’s something I love in books. And the magic systems sounds well done too. Too bad the ending was a bit rushed, but it sounds like a great read besides that.

    • Michelle

      I have absolutely loved everything by Harrison, and I highly encourage you to give her a try! She’s been known to have some occasional pacing issues (in my opinion at least), but nothing severe enough to make me actually dislike a book! 😀

  • Yeah, Harrison really does a great job with the world-building in this series. It’s thorough and tight. Hope she does more.

    • Michelle

      I really hope she does too! As much as I was just about ready for The Hollows to reach a conclusion for the sake of simply having some resolution, I do SO love that world and would love to explore it further 😀