Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #1
Published by Harper Voyager
Published on: April 27 2004
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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All the creatures of the night gather in "the Hollows" of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party ... and to feed.
Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining -- and it's Rachel Morgan's job to keep that world civilized.
A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she'll bring 'em back alive, dead ... or undead.
The Hollows is another one of the first Urban Fantasy series I ever read. The bug had gotten me, but I was still new enough to not really know what was available. I think I was just pursuing every lead Amazon gave me, and that was back in the 3-for-4 paperbacks days, so I was in the habit of ordering the first four books in any newly discovered series.
Which was a good plan, b/c by the time I finished Dead Witch Walking, I was well and truly hooked, and if I had days to wait before I could start the next book, I might have cried.
Rachel Morgan (a witch) lives in one of my favorite UF worlds—the creatures-out-of-the-closet world.
The first time I encountered this kind of world, I didn’t know what to do with it—it was too foreign a concept for me to unquestioningly swallow. However, upon closer acquaintance, I realized how much simpler things were if the humans knew there really were things that went bump in the night: the hate groups could just be the standard bastard collection of racists and bigots instead of super, secret society types, and the creatures’ actions weren’t limited to what they could do without being, horror-of-horrors, discovered.
Provided there was a reasonable explanation for why the creatures were out in the open, I soon preferred this set-up almost across the board.
Unfortunately, that’s where my main issue with The Hollows began . . .
In Rachel’s world, a disease piggybacking off a genetically modified tomato decimated the human population—the creatures, or Inderlanders, were mostly immune to the disease so that when the dust settled, for the first time perhaps ever, the humans and the creatures were, numbers-wise, largely equal.
The Inderlanders took advantage of the situation and came out of the closet. If Harrison had left it at that, I probably would have been okay.
But she didn’t.
Nope, she had the silly humans outlaw SCIENCE, b/c they were AFRAID. Afraid of SCIENCE. Afraid of TOMATOES. Just pathetically, ridiculously AFRAID.
“Outlaw science? What does that even mean?” you ask.
Well it means that the masses are dying of previously treatable illnesses, b/c silly humans destroyed the knowledge and shut down (burned down) anything resembling a research facility.
So yeah . . . that was a problem.
More realistically, the silly humans also tried to deprive any Inderlanders of their jobs, especially if said job was some form of government employment. Newly deprived of gainful employment, the Inderlanders blew their noses at the humans, and started their own government agencies.
Rachel works for one such agency, only she’s been getting really crappy assignments (or runs) for awhile now, and she’s just about ready to quit.
Except no one quits I.S. (Inderlander Security), the creature version of law enforcement, before their contract is finished . . .
At least no one quits . . . Dun dun duuunnnnn . . . and survives.
But Rachel thinks she’s found the out she’s been looking for when she captures her latest target, a tax-evading Leprechaun, who offers her 3 wishes in exchange for her freedom.
It seems like the perfect solution.
And it is. Until Ivy Tamwood, another I.S. Runner, former training partner, AND living vampire (can’t forget that part), and Jenks, pixy back-up extraordinaire, decide they want in on the action. Ivy even proposes they put out a shingle together and start their own private runner service.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, for one, Boss Man at I.S. is seriously pissed about Ivy buying out her contract (living vamps are loaded), so even though he admits to giving Rachel crap runs for the last two years in an effort to get her to quit, he decides to take his anger over Ivy leaving out on Rachel by using Ivy’s generous payout to fund the hits he keeps putting on Rachel’s life.
If that wasn’t awkward (HA! Awkward!) enough, Ivy seems to have a bit of a crush on Rachel.
And that’s problem #2.
Roommate situations already have the capacity for awkwardness, but when one of the roommates has “secret” feelings for the other . . . awkward in the extreme. And it has nothing to do with Ivy and Rachel both being female, so calm yourself. It’d be just as awkward if Ivy was a guy. No one wants to be dodging come-ons in their own home. Especially if the source of the come-ons is a vampire who wants to eat you . . . *snorts* . . . that’s not what I meant, and you know it.
*shakes head at gutter-minded people*
BUT, on the whole this book was S-T-E-L-L-A-R. The characters are well-developed from the start, and if you ignore the ban on medical research, the world-building is fantastic too. Rachel is pretty kickass, and has limitless growth-potential, and the dash of romance is ridiculously cute. Action-packed, Dead Witch Walking will grab your interest and hold on to it . . . indefinitely. Don’t let that scare you off though. The last book in the series comes out in September, and after that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to return to a productive life. (Disclaimer: Rabid Reads can in no way be held responsible for addictions to really excellent books or the shambles your life may potentially turn into due to your inability to do anything but read.)