Preternatura Book Club: DEAD WITCH WALKING, Chapters 5-6

 Shameless plug: Are you a Stephen King fan? I’m doing a read of the Dark Tower series over at that begins this week. A new post will go up every Monday for the next umpty-bazillion years, until the series is finished. Read along with me! You can find it at The whole series will be archived as I plod my way through (and this is my first read of the series, despite being a huge SK fan)–hope you’ll join the discussion!

Now, welcome to this week’s“meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! A few weeks ago, commenters voted on which novel they’d like to tackle first, and the winner by a landslide was Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, the first in her Hollows series featuring witch Rachel Morgan. 

Here’s how it works. Each week, I’ll post a summary (spoiler alert!) on two chapters, and we’ll chat about them. Try to minimize spoilers beyond what’s happened in the book we’ve read so far. You can read along, read ahead, or just stop by and read the summaries. After the Book Club has been up a few days, I’ll move it to archives so you can still come back and read. There’s a “Book Club” tab above. So, let’s get started!

When we last left Rachel, she was boarding a city bus, headed for the office space Ivy had rented for their new independent runner business. Inderland Security had already tried to kill Rachel twice for breaking her employment contract with them–first by putting a black curse on her paycheck, and then by spelling all her belongings.

A guy brushes against Rachel just before she gets off the bus, and she gladly gets out in Ivy’s new office neighborhood. She heads for a small house she assumes is the one, and there’s an older black dude sitting on the porch. He introduces himself as Keasley, and asks if the friend Rachel’s looking for is the vampire. Then he flicks a cursed self-stick amulet off Rachel’s back and plops it into a glass of salt water–yep, the guy on the bus made another hit on her. Rachel’s shaken–that’s three times already ex-boss Denon has tried to kill her. And from the smell of redwood wafting off Keasley, she realizes he’s either a witch or a warlock.

She realizes the guy’s house is not the one she’s looking for and turns to the correct address–and it’s an old stone church. Ivy the vampire has rented a church? Yes, indeed. Rachel goes inside and finds Ivy, very unsure about the whole situation. It’s a church, for one thing, and there’s a graveyard out back. She’s even further upset when she realizes all her spellbooks are cursed along with the rest of her stuff, so she’ll have to make all her charms by hand–very time-consuming, apparently. She’s mollified when Jenks shows up and shows her the garden, where all the things she’ll need for her charms is growing, and Ivy shows her the huge commercial kitchen, which will be perfect for making her charms as well. The final perfect thing falls into place: the former minister was a witch, who happened to leave all his spellbooks in the attic.

Rachel’s all set…except for the Ivy issue, and the fact that both she and Ivy are going to have to live there at the church.

We learn a little more about Rachel (she joined the I.S. to feel closer to her late father, who also was a runner, and her mom is living in denial that her dad is really gone). We learn a tiny bit more about Jenks (he loves the garden, and his kids are with him). We learn a lot, however, about Ivy.

In this world, vampirism is a virus and a “living vampire” can still go out in daylight and doesn’t always feed on blood. Ivy was born a living vampire–her mom was a living vampire who gave birth before becoming one of the undead. So Ivy became an I.S. runner to spite her mother, who can’t believe she then pretty much sold her birthright to get out of the I.S. Ivy’s dad tries to be the only “feeder” for her mom, and it’s killing him. So Ivy has serious family issues.

We also learn that Ivy fights her own nature, and that she’s very, very (make that very) attracted to Rachel. Rachel’s already kind of creeped out by how quickly Ivy can go all vampire on her, and then they have a near-incident where Ivy comes on to Rachel, Rachel realizes it and finds herself a little drawn to Ivy even though she’s straight, and then she gets scared. Her fear almost causes Ivy to lose control, and we have a tense scene before Ivy finally gets herself in hand and leaves before she can feed off Rachel, or bespell her into having sex with her, or both.

So, what struck you about these two chapters? Are you getting more invested in the story? Any surprises? Favorite moments? (I love when Rachel rubs her thumb and finger together in an implied threat to Jenks that she could squush him like a bug.)

Things to remember from this chapter. Keasley has a recurring minor role in the series, so you might as well remember him…Piscary’s, where Ivy orders the special take-out food from, plays an important role in the future, both as a setting and as Ivy’s family story unravels…It’s worth remembering that Rachel is wearing Ivy’s nightgown and robe, that smells faintly of wood ash…

LET’S CHAT! So, obviously, the big story in these two chapters is Ivy. Her background. Her character. Her attraction to Rachel, and Rachel’s fear of her. What do you think of Ivy at this early stage? I have to admit, I remember reading this the first time and finding her totally creepy and scary. I saw nothing but trouble for Rachel, and thought Rachel would do well to run like hell. I’ve since changed my opinion of Ivy, or at least found some sympathy for her plight. But I think Kim Harrison does a great job of portraying Ivy’s otherness. She’s not a practicing vampire, but she’s not a garden-variety human, either. What do you think?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

9 thoughts on “Preternatura Book Club: DEAD WITCH WALKING, Chapters 5-6

  1. I loved how at the end of Chapter 6 we were shown that it’s Rachel’s fear that is a big turn-on for Ivy. And I’m interested to see why an old church is such a problem…I mean…if we wear crosses to ward off vampires, wouldn’t a church be a GOOD place for a witch to live? How convenient that the last witch left all of his/her stuff there for Rachel!

    I also found the population demographics interesting…the way the humans migrated INTO the city and the inderlanders have the suburbs…I live in Northern Kentucky (southern Cincinnati), and Cinti can be pretty segregated. I thought this was an interesting treatment of racial issues that plague our city.

  2. @Roger…Mr. Fish! Yes, Mr. Fish is another “character” to make note of.

    @Teri Anne–Yes, Rachel and Ivy struggle with this..a lot. It’s fun to hear how the “real” Cinci compares with the Hollows version–especially later on as Rachel travels around the city more.

  3. I joined in over at for the Stephen King Dark Tower read. I have been a long time King Fan – this will also be a first time read for me of the Dark Tower series.

    For fun: My copy of Dead Witch Walking was signed for me by Kim Harrison at Anderson’s Books in June of 2010.

  4. Yay, Roger! Glad you’re going to join in the Dark Tower read as another first-timer. I’m a little intimidated by all those serious Dark Tower fans over there! I haven’t had a chance to meet KH but I sure love this series!

  5. The book is definitely getting interesting. I guess I was sleep-reading b/c I didn’t catch most of the intricities in the story. Thank goodness you write a “Things to Remember” segment on the post. I thought it was really funny that they are living in a church and the former priest was a witch. By the way, Ivy really surprised me. I did not see that coming. Looking forward to next week. Thanks!

  6. here I am late again for the party! I loved the whole buisness in a church thing and my favorite scene was Rachel and Ivy, was kinda hot

  7. Dead Witch Walking is definitely getting more interesting. I liked Keasley. I thought he’d be important since he “saved” Rachel. I like the church setting for their business. I think it will be protection for them. We don’t think of vampires being able to enter a church but what better place to bring what could be the confrontation between good and evil. Ivy will be interesting. I liked that she told Rachel her history. Ivy wasn’t so far into her vampireness to keep her from warning Rachel to calm down and not struggle. I was surprised by Ivy’s attraction to Rachel as well as Rachel’s questioning if she (Rachel) was attracted because of bespellment or attraction to Ivy. Will be very interesting to see how this attraction works itself out.