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Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Kim Harrison / Paperback / 432 Pages / Book is published 2006-10-02 by Voyager

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    4 Reviews
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      11.08.2010 10:30
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      An excellent start to one of the best urban fantasy series

      Kim Harrison introduces us to the world of the Hollows, a district close to Cincinnati that contains witches, weres, pixys and vampires - all those creatures that humans never realised existed until the Turn. Harrison introduces an intriguing idea to underpin the reason for these supernatural creatures being amongst human beings - in her world, bio engineering went wrong and a mutated virus swept the earth, killing a quarter of humanity. The Inderlanders (all of those supernatural people) had a natural resistance to this virus, and so found themselves able to reveal their presence to human beings. This was with the exception of elves, who, according to records, died out entirely - probably thanks to interbreeding with humans.

      This particular story centres around Rachel Morgan, a runner for the IS who finds herself given more and more pathetic targets to bring in. Soon enough she snaps and decides to leave the IS and branch out on her own. Leaving the IS has huge repercussions, including a death threat (hence the title 'Dead Witch Walking') and taking with her the slinky vamp Ivy and naughty pixy Jenks.

      Harrison suffers from the usual problem of a first novel in a recurring series - she has a number of characters to introduce and some info dumping to perform. This creates an issue of pacing - the first hundred or so pages are a little bit of a struggle as we get to know Rachel and the world she lives in, while the rest of the book flies past once the true plot kicks in. I also found that Harrison belaboured the point a little concerning Ivy and her state of control regarding taking blood from humans.

      However, most of the novel is an absolute delight! Jenks and the rest of his family are mischievous, fun, warm and witty. I absolutely love when Rachel finds herself the same size as Jenks and notices just what a hot guy he is! Another lovely theme was the book that Ivy lends Rachel about how to attract vampire lovers - so that she can avoid doing the many things that are causing Ivy to misread her intentions.

      The novel has a number of laugh-out-loud moments, but there is also a warm heart to the book. The characters are people you end up caring a great deal about, and you definitely want to know more about them. I will be picking up the rest of this series!

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        11.07.2010 19:50
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        .

        The first time I read this I had borrowed it from our local library. True to form they didn't have the rest of the series on their shelves and I had no intentions of buying a book which I may not have liked. Despite how much I enjoyed Dead Witch Walking I waited for well over a year and only last week this much loved novel appeared again. Snapping it up, not even thinking about the possibility that I might change my opinion of it.

        The first installment from The Hollow Series Kim Harrison introduces us to white earth witch Rachel Morgan. Working as a runner for Inderlanders Security bringing in supernatural criminals, she finds herself on the wrong side of the company after quitting. That wouldn't bother her boss until it turns out that fellow employee and living vampire Ivy is leaving, one of the best in the job, along with Jenks the pixie to start up a new runner company. After scoffing at the idea of her being killed because of this arrangement she soon realises that the rumors of other colleagues being murdered once they left were clearly not just idle gossip.

        In desperation of keeping her life she sets out with her companions to catch Trent Kalamack, powerful businessman who Inderlanders have been investigating but have never been able to put away. An idea that if she were to bring him in the company would cancel out the death threat lingering over her head. Not only does she have this criminal tycoon to deal with she also has to remain coolheaded having moved in with Ivy. Although she claims to not be practicing in blood drinking that doesn't stop Rachel from wondering at times where she goes after a heated argument. Death could so easily creep up on her but nothing is going to stop her from at least trying to capture Trent, despite the dangers it brings upon herself and those around her.

        The book was published in 2004 but it is the only Kim Harrison novel that I have actually read. I went back to it again because I remember really liking it the first time and was debating whether I really should purchase the next in the series. However as I have already indicated I was left very disappointed by it.

        You have a wide range of interesting characters involved. Jenks isn't always the most even tempered of pixies but he has a fierce determination and a will to do right. He may only be a few inches tall but you could always rely on him and there's no one around better suited as a partner to Rachel. His supernatural senses always come in handy and just like Ivy it wouldn't quite be the same without him in the trio.

        Ivy does appear to struggle with her non blood drinking. Despite it being 3 years since her last sup you do wonder from time to time if she should be trusted. An incident involving Rachel is enough to make it clear that she is smart enough to be wary of the living vamp. She provides an insight to this compulsive breed of creatures and you often get glimpses that keeping in control of her emotions is not one of her strong points.

        Rachel I found a little puzzling in her characteristics. She brings in criminals, witches and warlocks to leprechauns and fairies yet she appears to be very anxious. You'd of thought that she'd of been used to these types of creatures being a witch herself but it's as if she's never come across these people before and that they are some type of novelty to her. I did however like the reckless streak she has as it gives the story a lot more depth.

        The problem I had with this novel is that it is very slow to get started and once it did after a short while it came to a stand still again. Several times I had to reread chapters, lacking severely in keeping my attention. There are amusing moments at time and the descriptions used are good enough so you can visably imagine them but this is about as good as it gets.

        Some of the added cast are just not needed and I got tired of the same old paragraphs. Simply repeated later on but in different words. It seemed to be on a cycle. Ivy gets vampy on Rachel, she reactes and doesn't trust her, Ivy gets stroppy and runs off.

        I was disappointed that it didn't reach my expectations as I'm quite fond of these types of novels at the moment. Although I've lost interest in a lot of vampire tales I was hoping that this would be a refreshing change, it having more to it but it was a non starter and if I'm honest a little bit boring in places.

        If you want a supernatural book which involves lots of grizzly bits with large quantities of death and blood then this isn't what you're looking for. You can buy it on Amazon for £4.97 but it isn't one that I'd recommend. A complete let down.

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          31.05.2010 09:42
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          Great first book in a superb series

          Dead witch walking is the first in the Hollows series and it introduces us to white earth witch Rachel Morgan who lives in an alternate earth where inderlanders (witches, warlocks, werewolves, vampires etc) have always existed but were hidden until a virus from a genetically modified tomato killed a large chunk of humanity and the inderlanders who were immune were now numerous enough to declare themselves without fearing humans would hunt them down and destroy them. To police inderlanders they have set up the I.S. (inderlanders security) which is like a supernatural version of the FBI which is where Rachel Works as a runner who is someone who brings in supernatural criminals.

          Rachel is having problems at work, her boss hates her and is sending her on all the worst jobs. Finally having enough she quits the I.S to set up her own runner company taking her colleagues Jenks the pixie and Ivy the living vampire with her. Unfortunately the I.S don't take kindly to people quitting and the only other runner who ever quit was blown to pieces and her ex boss is determined Rachel is going to face the same fate. With the I.S on her back she loses her apartment and everything in it and is forced to move into an old church with Ivy and Jenks and run their new agency from there.

          Determined to be able to save her life and get the I.S to leave her alone she goes after Trent Kalamack a powerful businessman who the I.S have been investigating for awhile but never been able to pin anything on him. Rachel thinks if she can bring Tent in and turn him over to the I.S it will be enough to save her life and get them to let her go. She find evidence that Trent may be behind a bio drugs smuggling which has been illegal since the great tomato virus but can she find enough evidence to bring him in and what kind of creature exactly is Trent? Along with trying to bring down Trent she has to evade the attempts on her life and deal with the complications of living with a vampire and pixie who has 54 hyperactive children.

          Ok I absolutely loved this book. It is definitely my favourite urban fantasy series. The writing is fantastic and Kim Harrison has created a world that is both at once familiar and strange at the same time. It Is an interesting concept with both humans and supernaturals living in co-existence together but not really mixing with the humans living in the city centers and the supernaturals living in the suburbs.
          Kim Harrison manages to engage the reader within a few pages and her writing is fast and frentic never allowing the reader to be bored but at the same time I never felt like she had wrote page after page of filler like I feel with some books. I think it is the sign of a good writer who can introduce the characters within a few pages and have the reader caring what will happen to them.

          The characters are the biggest strength of the book in my opinion. Rachel is a fantastic heroine whose impulsiveness causes her no end of problems. Ivy is a living vamp who is struggling with the thought of her death and rebirth and worried it will make her a different person. Jenks is a two inch pixie with big confidence. He steals every scene he is in and is the comedic relief in the books but unlike a lot of comedic sidekicks Jenks is never annoying. The characters are all fleshed out so well and you really feel as if you get to know them and their personalities within a few chapters. The relationship between the characters is lovely with them all looking out for each other and it's nice to watch them from being colleagues in the beginning to by the end of the book becoming a sort of family.

          The world of the Hollows where the majority of the book is set really captivated me and after reading the book I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next one. There are currently 8 books in the series I think and the quality doesn't suffer in the later books with each one nearly as strong as the one before it. I really recommend this book to people who like the genre of urban fantasy if you give it a chance I don't think you will be disappointed.

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            08.07.2008 15:04
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            light and entertaining supernatural fantasy in an urban setting

            When we first meet Rachel Morgan she's just an average earth witch using her wit and her literal charms to grind out an existence bringing in bounties for Inderlander Security. In this alternate future, Inderlanders (vampires, werewolves, witches, Fae, etc) have been forced to reveal themselves thanks to a deadly virus that decimated the human population. And when one of these paranormal citizens steps out of line, the I.S. brings them to justice. Rachel has been struggling for the last three years to make a good impression at work and pull in better runs. It's beginning to look like the world's worst boss may win out!

            Cutting a deal with a tax-evading Leprechaun, Rachel and her friends, Ivy the living vampire and Jenks their pixie backup, leave the I.S. to begin their own agency with a whole wish a piece to help them along. The I.S. doesn't take kindly to people breaking their contracts either, even if it is someone they'd rather not keep on the payroll. The remains of the last guy who broke with the I.S. had to be scraped together into a box for his funeral. Death by turbine is not pretty.

            So, Rachel soon finds herself free of the I.S. but facing bigger problems, like how to stay in one piece! Stripped of her apartment, all her possessions, her books and magical equipment, Rachel finds herself moving into an old church with the temperamental Ivy, Jenks and his enormous family. Thus the Vampiric Charms private detective agency is born!

            Things don't get any easier though, and the I.S. has it in for them now. Rachel decides that maybe if she brings in a big enough bad guy and hands them over to the I.S. that they'll cancel the contract put out on her. They've been hot to pin Trent Kalamack, city councilman and successful businessman, for any of the shady dealings they suspect he's been running in Cincinnati.

            Rachel thinks she may have found the lead that will finally bring Trent down. Is Trent the city's Brimstone drug lord? Is that even the biggest baddest skeleton in his closet? Can Rachel find proof, or has she bitten off more than she can chew? It just may be easier for her to sweet talk herself back into the good graces of the I.S. rather than attempt bringing the ruthless, powerful, and mysterious Kalamack to justice. Welcome to the Hollows... Better watch your back!

            My Thoughts:

            This first in the Kim Harrison series is a good urban fantasy involving all manner of supernatural critters. In Dead Witch Walking, we are introduced to all the major players, the stage is set and we the readers need only enjoy it as it all unfolds. Plenty of action, brimming with good humor and witty repartee, I particularly enjoyed the unique characters, interesting setting, and the fact that society has shunned the tomato in all its forms for carrying that deadly virus!

            The pacing can be a bit choppy and the copy I read certainly had a Lot of typos, but ultimately these were minor drawbacks that didn't slow me down at all. Light, enjoyable, and entertaining, Harrison's characters drew me into their world, and made me feel like a friend rather than a voyeur. I love books that make me laugh out loud in public places! I was drawn to find out more, and that is what makes or breaks any first in a series. By the last page, I had to have book two waiting for me, and oh yes, dear serial readers, as of Feb. 26, 2008 there will be six in this set.

            Jenks, the irrepressible pixie, quite often steals the show, and the series is well-worth reading just for him alone in my opinion. I loved getting acquainted with Jenks, his lovely Matalina, their enormous brood of winged children and through them all, Harrison's view of pixie society. Ivy's personal issues don't really come clear in this first book, but her moodiness, self-repression, and fear all become evident with time.

            Ivy is our closest window into the local vampire society. Many times in reading this first book though, I felt like she was merely a foil for Rachel's more impulsive and far less introspective self; a character designed to pull Rachel back from the brink... or perhaps send her over the edge of all she's ever known.

            Rachel herself, while amusing, can come off as flighty or lacking in depth, but as we watch her grow and evolve over the series the over-all impression is that of an ordinary person doing her utmost to be someone her parents can be proud of while still fulfilling her own desires. A common enough tightrope, and I must say that she does an excellent job of entertaining us while she's up there!

            These three head up a great cast of characters that work well together in presenting a story that, like real life, does not begin in the here and now, but in the distant fog of the past. We are tantalized with glimpses of Rachel's odd childhood, and left to wonder just how long her family and Kalamack's are destined to intertwine... Her father's untimely death and her mother's imperfect recovery from that tragedy continue to haunt our heroine.

            Nowhere do these scars show more plainly than in her love interests, her impulsive choices, and the unconscious need for adrenaline in her life. Can this witchy red-head figure out what Trent's hiding? Can this unlikely trio forge a viable team? Will she even live long enough to figure out a suitable wardrobe for all of this? Have fun finding out!

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