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The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death
by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #0.1
Other books in this series include Into the Woods.
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Dates from Hell, Pale Demon, Unbound, Something Deadly This Way Comes, The Good, the Bad, and the Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fistful of Charms, For a Few Demons More, The Outlaw Demon Wails, White Witch, Black Curse, Black Magic Sanction, A Perfect Blood, "Pet Shop Boys", "Trouble on Reserve", Into the Woods, Holidays are Hell, Ever After, The Drafter, "Waylaid", The Operator.
The first in The Hollows prequel paranormal fantasy series that takes us back in time to 1963 to 1966 and that first tomato.
Harrison sets us down in the 1960s with its fashions and music, introducing us to those characters who contributed so much to The Hollows we know and love. It was fascinating to meet Trent’s parents, Rachel’s father, and the vampires of Cincinnati who will play roles in The Hollows.
It’s also the time before women’s lib began to set women free, and it’s a dominant theme in The Turn, for this is a man’s world, one in which betrayal, corruption, and sabotage are all business as usual. It’s a capsule look at the negatives of downplaying someone for their sex. Assuming they’re stupid, emotionally handicapped, incapable of driving (?), good only for fetching and carrying. Of how a group weakens themselves by ignoring half their brainpower.
Side themes that contribute too well to the ending include the sin of pride and all its negatives, bullying, arrogance, and bigotry — all too obvious through Harrison’s use of the third-person point-of-view. Kal’s behavior certainly shows his insecurity. The same insecurity all bullies have. One they take out on everyone around them. In the real world, we need to find out what’s causing that insecurity. Take it away. And that child — and everyone they interact with in future — will be saved forever. Yeah, yeah, it’s a hope, anyway.
It’s a story of personal and professional regret. With the elven race on the brink of extinction, being able to have children conveys power, status, and a voice. As a dark elf, Trisk needs both. And, Christ, that Kal has some nerve at the end, insisting on there being no betrayal.
Harrison does come up with some terrifying conflicts: the interactions with Algaliarept, Daniel’s unfortunate discovery, subtle romantic triangles, the encounters in Chicago, and Trisk’s and Daniel’s humane naiveté among others. I do love that Trisk is never taken in by Kal, although I don’t understand why it takes Orchid so long to figure him out.
I gotta tell you, it took me a long time to read this. I’d read a few pages and put it down. Sometimes for days. Then I’d read a few pages and…yeah… It was so nervewracking. I knew of the plague coming from the original The Hollows series, and I did NOT like the direction The Turn seemed to be going. The lies. The betrayals. Oh, lord, the lies! It took about one-third of the way in before I got brave enough to read through to the end.
In spite of all this, you really must read The Turn if you enjoyed The Hollows.
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.
A plague that also threatens the exposure of the paranormal species who have stayed hidden for thousands of years, and now they have the uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die or to show themselves in a bid to save them.
Then Detroit broke the silence. The city doesn’t exist anymore.
Dr. Felicia Eloytrisk “Trisk” Cambri is a dark elf, a heritage that when combined with being a woman, dismisses her brilliance as a geneticist. One who has a doctorate in using viruses to introduce undamaged DNA into somatic cells, the hope for the elven race.
Quen Hanson is a friend and fellow student who majored in security. He’s taken a job with the Kalamacks, even though he knows “they’ll treat their horses better”. I wish I knew why he accepted their offer.
Dr. Trenton Lee “Kal” Kalamack is the last of his elven bloodline and a fellow student albeit a lying, sneaking bully. He’s also a brilliant geneticist, but not as good as Trisk. Orchid is the pixy who was rescued by Kal. Lilly is Kal’s housekeeper in Sacramento.
Global Genetics is…
…a human research lab based in Sacramento, and Rick Rales, a living vampire, is the new CEO, replacing Dr. Hartsford. The drought-resistant T4 Angel tomato is Trisk’s breakthrough and downfall. Angie Harms will be Trisk’s lab assistant; Andy is her boyfriend. George is a guard. Barbara is the head secretary who looks like an aged stand-in on American Bandstand.
Dr. Daniel Plank is a human physicist who creates a tactical virus, PTV. Larry is his assistant.
It’s mostly Inderlanders patrolling the streets in Chicago. Captain Pelham is a cop and a Were, along with most of his men, including: Randy, Tex (is a witch), and Smith. Ormand is a master vampire; Jake is one of his children. Thomas, Phil, Betty Smitgard is a makeup artist, and Matthew are human survivors at the Chicago Stadium. Rob and Adric are some of the helpers. Chuck is one of the civilian Weres helping to patrol the streets. They want to prevent another Detroit. Johnny and his parents, Benson and May, help Trisk and Daniel.
Piscary is its master vampire. Leo is his scion. Sam and Ellen are some of his children. Fordges is an informant. Senator Rynn Cormel. Professor Thole, a witch, is with the university and has connections with the coven of moral and ethical standards.
…the collective term for all supernaturals. There are four major species and a number of minor ones, including pixies, gargoyles, and more.
The Weres are…
…werewolves. Colonel Jason Wolfe is a werewolf with NASA. Mrs. Ray is an alpha who owns a limousine company in Cincinnati. Casey is a young Were manning a gas station; Officer Bob is one who sends him home. Sid and Luke are Weres along the way.
The Elven Enclave is…
…the governing political organization for the elves while the dewar is their religious council. Sa’han Ulbrine is a two-faced hypocrite who works for the enclave. He got Trisk the job at Global Genetics. Sa’han is an elven honorific.
The Witches’ Coven of Moral and Ethical Standards is…
…the witch governing body. Saladan Industries and Farms is the buyer of the Angel tomato patent. Max Saladan owns it and is a ley line practitioner, a witch.
A living vampire has the strength and charisma, but none of the liabilities of a vampire. A scion is an undead vampire’s aide who does the daylight work. Mr. Niles is the master vampire of Sacramento, and Rick was his scion.
Algaliarept “Gally” is the name of the demon Trisk’s grandmother, Felicia Ann Barren, was said to have summoned.
Donald “Takana” is a young bass player; Ripley is the drummer in the band. April is a young girl on the boxcar. Heather hosts a talk show. Tom is one of her cameramen.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a gentle snowstorm in the woods with Trisk, her long dark hair blowing with the wind, her hands cupping a black tomato, oozing a viscous black down the front of her tomato-red square-cut silk gown, the bottom of it billowing up around her in a red cloud. It’s Quen’s gold helix pendant that’s hanging from her neck.
The title is where it all begins, The Turn, with the tale of how The Hollows Begins with Death.