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!
DEAD WITCH WALKING, CHAPTERS 11 and 12
When we last left Rachel, she had just guzzled the transmutation spell to turn herself into a mouse in order to infiltrate the IS records vault and look at their files on Trent Kalamack. Her goal is to prove that the powerful, mysterious councilman is dealing illegal brimstone.
As chapter eleven begins, Rachel wakes up and hears a deep, sexy voice calling her name. She tries to answer but it come out in a squeak—she’s a mouse. Or is she? The deep voice belongs to Jenks, who’s a lot hunkier now that she’s a small rodent, and she gains a new appreciation for him and why he might be having all those children. But Jenks has news for her—she isn’t a mouse. She’s a mink, so she’s really rather proud of herself.
Rachel the mink and Jenks climb up the rain gutter to the roof of the IS building, then slip inside with no problems and make their way to the records vault. Ever-resourceful Jenks thought to hit the button when Rachel’s idiot former coworker was copying the Kalamack files so there was an extra copy in the trash. He spreads them out for Rachel-the-Mink to study. Jenks also buzzed out the security cameras to run on a loop so they wouldn’t show up. Rachel realizes she hasn’t given Jenks enough credit.
To her disappointment, Rach doesn’t learn much in Trent Kalamack’s files to help her, although she is startled to learn that the last IS investigator to go after the man was the one who’d supposedly been assassinated after breaking his IS contract—Denon, perhaps? The doctor subpoenaed for Trent’s medical records also mysteriously died. “Kalamack,” Rachel notes, “plays for keeps.”
We, however, learn a lot about a man who is going to be a major series character. A few Trent Kalamack facts: he’s the last of his family; his parents died under “magical” circumstances; he’s very wealthy and has a huge estate where he raises racehorses; the FIB and IS kind of look the other way where he’s concerned; no one knows if he’s human or Inderlander—they think Inderlander but don’t know exactly what he is.
There’s a big discussion about scent that is interesting. Jenks can tell what people are by their scent, and thinks he can identify what Trent is if he can get close enough. He can tell Rachel pulled from the ever-after when she was making her spells. And he can tell that Ivy was a heavy blood-drinker in the past, even though she’s currently a non-practicing vamp.
After they leave the IS, Rachel transforms back into herself, and they take the bus home. Outside the church, she stops to talk to the elderly neighbor Keasley and comes under attack—another assassination attempt, this one by fairies. Fairies are apparently expensive, and Rachel is shocked at how badly Denon wants her dead.
There’s a cool motorcycle sitting outside the church, and when Rachel goes inside, she finds Ivy arguing with a man. Make that another living vampire. Kist is a blond hunk in black leather, and oozes sex appeal and menace. Rachel has been told by Ivy that she can’t be bespelled by a living vamp so she isn’t afraid to meet Kist’s eyes, but—uh-oh—he bespells her. Remember Kist—we’re going to see him quite a bit.
Ivy stops Kist from taking Rachel even though he’s managed to convince Rachel she wants him, and he finally leaves after Ivy says Rachel is hers—that she’s under Ivy’s protection. Turns out the reason Kist was able to bespell Rachel is that he’s the scion—think living-vampire servant—of Piscary, the master vampire who is the big dog in the Hollows. One of his perks as scion is that he has greater powers, and Piscary can channel through Kist. So it was Piscary doing the bespelling.
Rachel is totally freaked and ready to pack up and leave, but Ivy manages to talk her down. Piscary won’t hurt her, she assures Rachel, because he’s basically Ivy’s uncle—the originator of her family bloodline. She thinks of him like a father.
Finally, Rachel realizes she has no choice but to stay. If she leaves the church, she’ll be fair game for both Denon and Piscary.
LET’S CHAT! We meet some more major players in this chapter. Kist is important to the series, as is Piscary. Trent Kalamack is a major player. If you’re new to the series, what are your impressions of Kist? I have a hard time being neutral about him since I know how his story plays out. (No spoilers, Roger! LOL.) And didn’t you just love Rachel’s new outlook on Jenks as a sexy dude?