Kim Harrison introduces us to the world of the Hollows in Dead Witch Walking, 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!
Frankenstein 1970: “Torch, scorch, unforch…”
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