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 day, 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!
DEAD WITCH WALKING, CHAPTERS 7 and 8: WHAT HAPPENS
When we last left Rachel, she’d had a close call with Ivy. Not only was she freaked out because Ivy came close to going all vamp and biting her, but Ivy was obviously having a sexual attraction Rachel didn’t share. Or maybe she shared a little because of the vamp thing but not really.
Chapter 7 begins with Rachel in the kitchen looking through one of the ancient spellbooks she found in the attic, and is relieved to note that while some of them skirt a little close to the line, they’re all white magic. Ivy comes in, and things are tense until Ivy finally shoves a book Rachel’s way―a vampire dating guide. Not so they can date, but so Rachel will know what NOT to do around Ivy that will push her buttons. Rachel forgives her, reluctantly, after Ivy admits that certain things Rachel did overrode her control. When Rachel says she’s going to the I.S. records department to get information on Trent Kalamack so she can prove he’s dealing brimstone and get the I.S. hit men off her, Ivy insists she take Jenks along for backup. Rachel also sees that Ivy has used the leprechaun wish she bargained for, but Ivy won’t tell her what she wished for.
On the bus ride to the I.S., Rachel cracks open the vampire dating guide and realizes everything she’d done the night before―wearing Ivy’s clothes, talking about family―had worked to shred Ivy’s control. “ There’s a hilarious scene when a vamp-tramp―someone addicted to vampire sex―sees her with the book and points out a lurid photo to Rachel. We don’t know exactly what the photo was of but it involved two vamps and a human, something bolted to the wall, and it left the human guy walking with a limp.
When Rachel arrives at the I.S., she thinks she’ll be safe―they wouldn’t attack her in public, after all. Wrong. Who does she run into but her hated ex-cubicle-neighbor Francis, who calls security after telling Rachel there’s an office pool on when she’ll get killed. Three weres (one a werefox) show up. Rachel sends Jenks to sneak into the records room behind Francis, who’s researching for his upcoming meeting with Trent Kalamack, to see what files he looks at. While Jenks is gone, Rachel has to try and escape from the goons. She’s hit by one spell shot from a splat gun and gets a burn on her neck that she douses with salt water. She leads them on a chase through the I.S. archives and finally is able to take Francis hostage and leverage her way outside, where she loses the goons and escapes.
WHAT WE LEARN:
The big thing in Chapter 7 is an explanation of how magic works in this world. Rachel is an earth witch and only does white magic. It’s a line she won’t cross and that line becomes more important as this series progresses. All magic requires sacrifice. As an earth white witch, Rachel must only sacrifice plants. Black magic witches would have to sacrifice people. And ley line witches, who can be black or white and draw their power from the geomantic lines of power that crisscross the earth, sacrifice bits of their soul. Think of your aura as a big bubble around yourself and it’s all bright and shiny and sunshine yellow; a black ley-line spell would tarnish it with a big black splotch. Also, a ley-line witch with too much black on their aura become easy targets for demons to pull them into the ever-after. We also learn that Rachel’s dad got dragged into the ever-after by a demon at some point and accused of being a black witch, which she doesn’t believe.
Keep that magic system handy―Kim Harrison is very consistent with it, and it’s important for not just this book but the whole series.
We get a little look at the practical side of Rachel’s magic. She wears a disguise charm that makes her look like she has brown frizzy hair and a big nose. When she’s attacked at the I.S., they use splat guns to shoot spells at her. Like a paintball gun, only the splat when it hits does bad things. The one she gets hit with is a spontaneous combustion spell.
We also get a few more glimpses of Trent Kalamack. He’s a councilman, is on bad terms with the I.S., and a bit mysterious. The I.S., Rachel says, isn’t even sure if he’s human or Interlander. He’s also very wealthy.
And finally, we get a little hint at what Jenks can do―he buzzes ahead of Rachel to check for trouble, and is able to bypass the security cameras to follow Francis into the research room without being detected.
And there we have it! What was your favorite scene here? I liked the action at the I.S., but the scene on the bus with the vamp tramp was so funny!