Preternatura Book Club: Dead Witch Walking, Chapters 9-10

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!

Rachel is back home after her disastrous attempt to infiltrate the records department at the I.S. Now she knows her ex-boss Denon probably got chewed out for losing Ivy, and he’s determined to make Rachel pay. She also learns Jenks’s kids, the little pixies, have been deflecting lethal splat-gun charms being lobbed at her while she works in her witch’s garden.

Desperate to get a look at the I.S. files so she can go after powerful councilman Trent Kalamack and prove his guilt in dealing illegal Brimstone (and thus get Denon off her back, she thinks), Rachel is studying the spellbooks she found in the attic of the church, looking for the perfect spell to get her inside undetected. She finally decides on a transmutation spell, and determines that since she has all the ingredients, she can turn herself into a mouse–even though she’s never actually done a transmutation before.

She invokes a circle and draws power from a ley line that runs below the church–something she’s surprised to find. After completing the spell, she and Jenks dodge Denon’s hitmen outside the church and head to the IS building a couple of hours before dawn. Even though she’s scared, Rachel downs the transmutation potion and collapses to the ground as her body begins the painful process of turning into a mouse.


Oh boy, things are going to really start picking up now. 

We get our first good luck at Rachel’s magic in Chapter 9–how she invokes the spell, as well as the difference between good earth magic, black magic, and ley line magic. Rachel is worried, as she looks at the spells, about crossing the line from white magic to not-so-white, and fears she will have to cross that line in order to stay alive. This is a MAJOR issue throughout the entire series: how far will you go to protect yourself? 

For now, the transmutation spell seems like a good idea for Rachel. All she has to do is turn into the mouse, go into the IS records room, look at the files Jenks has already found, then make her way back out and jump in her bowl of saltwater to undo the spell. Easy peasy, right? Ha.

We also get another look at the relationship between Ivy and Rachel in Chapter 9. Rachel is still afraid of Ivy and doesn’t trust her. She’s washing her clothes, dowsing herself in lavendar so she won’t carry Ivy’s scent and provoke another close encounter. Ivy, always the soul of calm, nonetheless shows some hurt feelings at Rachel’s lack of trust. We get another scene of a vamp tramp pointing out embarrassing things on the bus as Rachel reads the vampire dating guide.

We also get another glimpse at Jenks and the role he and his family will play–even Jenks’s many children (we meet his eldest son Jax in this chapter) are actively doing security on the church grounds.

Finally, we see a bit more about the ever-after, which originated as a utopia built by the Elves but ended up taken over by the demons. The ever-after (and the fact that the ley lines–or lines of energy that crisscross the earth–serve as direct conduits to the ever-after) also play a huge role in the series. Rachel believes, partly because of the glimpses of experience we’re getting to her father, who got in some trouble with ley-line magic, that drawing power from the ley lines adds smut to one’s soul, or aura.

And there we have it! What do you think about the magical world Rachel lives in, now that we’re seeing a bit more of what she can do? Do you expect her experience as a rodent to be successful?
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , by Suzanne Johnson. Bookmark the permalink.

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).

6 thoughts on “Preternatura Book Club: Dead Witch Walking, Chapters 9-10

  1. “Dead Witch Walking” passes the page 99 test!!!

    Jessica Turner [Spinecracker] did an article on Heroes and about the page 99 test.
    “Rather than judge a book by its cover, turn to page 99 and start reading…
    Then answer two questions:
    Would you turn the page?
    And, how likely would you be to buy the book based on what you just read?”

    Page 99 of “Dead Witch Walking” is a scene between Ivy & Rachel.
    It has or mentions: Transformation spell, potion, soaking in saltwater, amulet, fuzz of a pussytoes plant, vamps, bats, witches, spell book, finger stick, turn, salt circle, ever-after, metal toxins & three drops of blood.
    WOW! This just has to pass the test…

    When I first read this book I was looking for a witch Urban Fantasy story – Kim’s Hollows world is now my favorite.

  2. I really enjoyed these 2 chapters. I love all the little ins & outs of Rachel’s life: the spell-casting, her wariness of Ivy, Jenks & his family…. And boy, what I wouldnt give to take a look @ the vamp book!

  3. I liked the Vamp Tramp on the bus scene. I also want to smack Ivy…after all, she’s the one who gave Rachel the book and told her what not to do!

  4. @Roger. I love the Page 99 test! (I just did it with Stephen King’s The Gunslinger and it’s as mind-boggling as the whole book!)

    @Teri Ann & Andrea. Yeah, I want a look at that book too! I have to admit I was very slow to warm up to Ivy. She, along with Trent Kalamack, whom we’ll meet soon, are probably the most complex characters in the series.

  5. I like that we are slowly being introduced to characters that will be part of the series–Jenks’ family, for example. I like the tension between Rachel and Ivy. I don’t know where this relationship will go but it will be interesting to see how it develops. I like how Kim is doing more world building in setting up the magic and ley lines. Very powerful! I find it interesting that Rachel feels a strong pull of the ley lines, something I think she needs to feel because I think it will strengthen her to defeat Denon. I’m on edge as Rachel takes the potion and falls down. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

  6. Oh boy, just wait Sheila–I think the book really starts to take off now. I’d forgotten how much time Kim spent setting up the world and how things worked, and easing us into these main characters, but now things will really buzz. The upcoming sequences are among my favorites in the whole series and was the point at which I fell in love with this world!