#AmReading: “Dead Witch Walking” by Kim Harrison

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If you like a good mystery story mixed with a cast of characters that include witches, vampires, pixies, and demons, then you may want to give Dead Witch Walking a read. Dive into The Hollows as Kim Harrison’s novel is just the first of currently 14 books in The Hollows series.

There are also a few short stories, novellas, and two graphic novels taking place in this familiar, yet strange world.

Overview

Dead Witch Walking follows bounty hunter, and white witch, Rachel Morgan as she leaves her job at Inderland Security to go solo. There’s only one small problem. No one has ever left I.S. and lived. While Rachel is busy tracking down a possible drug lord, dealing in Brimstone, she is also dodging assassins and multiple attacks on her life.

Who says starting your own business is easy? In a world where vampires, witches, warlocks, Weres (werewolves, were-foxes, etc.), pixies, fairies, and leprechauns exist with humans, solving a mystery of this size presents a whole new set of challenges.

The Hollows

The Hollows is located across the river from Cincinnati. It’s where all the non-humans, or Inderlanders, live. Back in 1950, due to a bio-chemical mishap, a group of tomatoes were exposed to a deadly virus that, once shipped around the world, killed a fourth of the human population.

Vampires, Weres, witches and the like were immune to the virus. Due to the change in population, and their immunity, non-humans helped to stop the spread of the virus and came out of hiding. Now in present-day Cincinnati, The Hollows is a thriving town with homes, families, and working citizens. Some living, some dead.

While some humans live there or visit during the day, it’s essentially run by Inderlanders with all kinds of creatures mixing and mingling. And some turning to a life of crime. That’s where the agency I.S. comes in with runners like Rachel and her friend Ivy.

The Inderlanders

When Rachel leaves her job with I.S. she moves out of her apartment in Cincinnati and into The Hollows with the other Inderlanders. Her initial plan to work alone changes when her former co-workers decide to join her and become a team. Ivy is a living vampire, as opposed to a dead one, and has sworn off biting and blood for the past three years. This creates problems as she and Rachel are now roommates in their new home.

A pixie, Jenks, also joins the team along with his wife and children who live in Rachel’s garden. As a pixie, Jenks can sniff out who is a witch, who is a vampire, and so on. A handy talent when searching for criminals. Or simply trying to stay alive. This odd team is a mix of not only different backgrounds but different personalities that often mesh well. When they actually decide to work together.

Rachel Morgan, Dead Witch Walking

The title, Dead Witch Walking, is exactly what Rachel is when she decides to quit. The agency has a reputation for hiring assassins to tag and/or kill those who leave. All without any evidence or finger-pointing. Until her contract is paid off, Rachel really is considered a “dead witch.” As one would guess, this makes getting any clients for her new endeavor difficult.

In order to remove the hit on her and have a chance of being a successful independent runner, she decides to give I.S. something they want more than her. Trent Kalamack. A philanthropic politician suspected of dealing drugs, he has yet to be pinned down in court.

While the story concerning Rachel’s assassination attempts is interesting, it’s Trent and his motives that really hold your attention. No one knows what he is. Even Jenks, to his frustration, can’t tell. But he has a plan for Rachel, and the patience to wait.

A Paranormal Detective Series

Dead Witch Walking is less of a paranormal adventure and more of a crime or detective story. There are clues and break-ins. There are deals made with leprechauns, demons, and law enforcement.

Sure, there are charms and spells, but they’re used to help Rachel do her job as a runner and get proof of Trent’s crimes. The character who stands out the most here is the villain, Trent Kalamack. He can be smooth and charming one minute, then a ruthless cold-blooded killer the next. He’s an intelligent villain who is confident in his abilities and resourceful at getting what he wants.

As much as the Rachel and Jenks team-up is enjoyable, the real story picks up when our heroes meet Trent face to face. At the end of Dead Witch Walking, he’s reason to continue the series.

Final Thoughts on Dead Witch Walking

While a bit slow at times, Kim Harrison’s introduction into The Hollows is a fun crime story set in a world with witches, vampires, and pixies. Complete with its own lore concerning living versus dead vampires or the long-lasting conflict between pixies and fairies, the world feels real even with these fantasy elements and characters.

As much as you may cheer for the heroes, it’s the villain who captivates and holds your attention. The suspense during each encounter is well crafted and only leads you to wonder what will happen next.

And what he’s really after. As for Rachel, Jenks, and Ivy, you get a taste of what they’re like in Dead Witch Walking, but will likely need to keep reading the series to really know them as characters. Ivy, in particular, has a knack for keeping secrets and often stays behind while Rachel and Jenks are putting themselves in danger. Hopefully, she plays a larger role in the following books.


With 13 novels still to go, Dead Witch Walking is just the beginning, and a good way to kickstart your countdown to Halloween.

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