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 19 and 20
When we last left our intrepid heroine, Rachel–in her mink form–had been caught by Trent Kalamack going through his estate fishing for evidence. When Rachel/Mink bites his hand, Trent–who’s holding her up by her tail, smacks her into a wall and everything goes black.
As Chapter 19 opens, Rachel wakes up to the sound of Trent Kalamack interviewing a new secretary (remember, his old one was found dead early in the book). Sara Jane is unqualified–except that she is desperate for the job and is someone Trent can manipulate. Rachel realizes she’s in a cage with some pellets and water and a hutch and an exercise wheel (“like I’ll ever use it”). Rachel gets up and squeaks from her injuries, and Trent and Sara Jane come over to ogle the “ferret” in its cage. Trent introduces his pet mink as “Angel.” Sara Jane leaves, pleased with her new job and benefactor.
Rachel spits a few epithets at Trent, but of course all he hears are “chirps and chitters.” (Too bad she isn’t a talking mink.) Trent’s assistant Jonathan comes in and exchanges barbs with the mink, then smacks the cage with a folder; Rachel lunges for him. Jon almost has heart-failure when Trent very quietly chastises him–it’s clear that Trent is in charge, but Rachel gets the sense that maybe he wasn’t always–she wonders if Jon was involved in Trent’s upbringing after the death of his parents. Finally, Jon announces that Francis Percy–Rachel’s old nemesis at the IS, is there. Trent hides Rachel’s cage.
During an awkward interview, we learn that Francis has been working for Trent on the sly, and Rachel suddenly understands how a non-talent like Francis advanced so fast. Trent pumps Francis for info he can use to control Rachel, but doesn’t learn anything useful. Trent pulls some serious mojo magic on Francis, and even Rachel is startled at the power that emanates from him. She still can’t figure out what he is. Francis is babbling and begging for another chance when Trent finally tells him he can schedule a shipment on Friday. After Francis leaves, Jon suggests they get rid of him, but Trent says he might have other plans for him.
The next day, Rachel’s still in the cage, eating a carrot left over from Sara Jane’s lunch so she doesn’t have to eat rodent pellets. We learn a little of Trent’s daily routing, working on the phone or paperwork, broken up by three-hour lunches, from which he comes back very refreshed. Rachel relaxes in her ferret hammock and checks out Trent’s backside as he puts on a CD–she gives him a 9.5 out of 10, taking of .5 for the business suit that covered most of said backside up.
Finally, a Dr. Faris comes in to see Trent–he wanted someone to give him more information on Rachel, but seems put out that Faris came himself instead of sending an assistant. The man examines Rachel and immediately knows she’s a witch. He also says she must be part of a powerful organization, since only they could afford such a powerful spell. It’s quite a compliment to Rachel’s skill, which Trent finds interesting. He tells Faris he’s planning on entering Rachel in the city rat fights–to the death. Rachel doesn’t take this well, and starts throwing rodent pellets at Trent and yelling (chittering) at him. Even Faris is horrified and thinks Trent is going too far–Rachel won’t last three minutes in a rat fight. Trent shuts him up by making insinuating comments about Faris’ 15-year-old daughter, who apparently took biodrug treatment for bone cancer. What a pity it would be if the treatments were no longer available. As Faris is leaving, Trent says he knows Faris is going to make a run for it, and he can’t have that.
In a scene out of James Bond, Trent unscrews his pen, blows into it and hits Faris with a shot of bee venom, to which the man is allergic. Trent gives him a moment to die before calling Sara Jane and having her summon an ambulance, then tells Rachel she should reconsider his job offer. Rachel chitters at him–especially now that she knows he’s using the gene-splicing tech that caused the Turn to begin with. He says he’ll break her, no matter how long it takes.
Jon comes back in to announce the arrival of the paramedics, and Rachel is having a mink fit in her cage. Trent tells Jon to hit the cage, teach Rachel a lesson about anger management. Rachel thinks if the rats don’t kill her, Jonathan will.