Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club, where we’re reading the first book in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, DEAD WITCH WALKING.
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 23 and 24
When we last saw Rachel, she’d just escaped from the rat fights with her new rat buddy. This time, we learn what happened afterward—namely, Ivy came to get them on her bike. Rachel Mink and Bloody Baron Rat refused to get into a box, and so they rode on her bike in front of her, tails entwined. Something Jenks gets a lot of sport from as he teases Rachel about her new “boyfriend.”
Rachel is back in human form, sitting in the kitchen and eating everything in sight after three days of nothing but a few carrot sticks. She’s anxiously awaiting the Bloody Baron’s emergence from the shower as a human. She and Ivy have decided he must be a hunk to have survived the rat fights and wasn’t fazed by vampires. Rachel is finally figuring out how to talk to Ivy without it escalating into a near-disaster—just showing some respect instead of fear or anger. Of course, all that togetherness makes Jenks want to puke. When he tells Rach how upset Ivy was while she was in Trent’s clutches, Ivy threatens to get a pixy-eating cat.
Jenks gets drunk on honey, which makes him even more annoying to Rachel and Ivy. (And funnier for us, of course, especially when he humiliates Rachel by asking Nick, “Rachel wants to know what it was like having balls as big as your head that drag on the floor.”)
Finally, we get a look at the Baron, a human whose name is Nick. He’s not quite the hunk Rachel expected—Ivy whispers “he’s a geek” just before he comes into the kitchen wearing Ivy’s robe. He’s thin (then again, he’s been a rat for a while), tall, and Rachel decides he has too much muscle to be a geek—she thinks he’s a cross between a young Jeff Goldblum and an untidy Buckaroo Banzai. Rachel has to check out the muscle tone, of course.
Nick reveals that he was, uh, “cataloguing” a vampire’s private book collection and “made the mistake” of taking it home. He’s a thief, in other words. The vamp turned him into a rat and gave him to a business associate as a gift. He’s kind of quiet but funny, and Rachel’s starting to like him.
Nick and Jenks engage in a hilarious one-upmanship match as they compare scars and injuries. Rachel is startled to see the serious injuries Jenks has suffered. The more she learns about her tiny sidekick, the more she realizes he’s not just a one-liner with wings.
Finally, after all the domesticity, Rachel announces they need to go to the airport and snag Trent before midnight. This not only upsets Ivy (there’s no plan) and Jenks (he’s drunk and tired), but also lets Nick in on the fact that they’re after the famous councilman Trent Kalamack. Rachel trusts Nick, though, and fills him in on what happened with Trent—and that she suspects him of engineering biodrugs. Nick asks why they don’t just go to the FIB, the humans’ equivalent of the I.S. Finally, Rachel agrees not to do anything right away–she needs some stronger spells to protect herself. Maybe a black spell. And Nick, who used to work at the university library and can get in its restricted area, knows just where to find a few rare black spellbooks.
Nick, Rachel and Jenks take a cab to the library, with Rachel spelled to look like an elderly woman. While she looks at the books, she learns a little of Nick’s background—his single mom raised him in the Hollows and he went to the Inderlander school, which explains why he’s comfortable around them. (He also tells her to wear citrus to neutralize Ivy’s scent instead of the strong perfume.)
Rachel picks a different book to look through and, as soon as she does, she feels the hair rise on the back of her neck. Just as Jenks flies in and says the security amulet has turned red, Rachel swivels to see the air behind her take solid form into a yellow mist, and then a pony-sized dog that smells of sulfur.
As the chapter ends, the dog opens its mouth and says: “Which one of you is Rachel Mariana Morgan?”
LET’S CHAT! What do you think of Nick in this first couple of scenes? I had forgotten Rachel’s first reactions to him. And I’m continuing to really love the interplay between Jenks and both Ivy and Rachel. And, if you’re new to the series, any guesses as to who the “dog” is and what he wants?