Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! We’re reading 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 31and 32
When we last saw Rachel, she’d just tackled her old IS nemesis Francis in the bus terminal, where she’d caught him doing Trent Kalamack’s biodrug dirty-work. Three witches had shown up, throwing heavy-duty spells.
We pick up with an explosion, and Francis fighting to get away from Rachel so he won’t be killed when the witches hit their real target (her). But Rachel won’t let go. When she sees one of the witches ready to throw a charm at her, she instinctively drags Francis up in front of her, and he takes the hit instead. Before she can see how badly he’s hurt—or if he’s dead—Jenks warns her that the witches are casting a magical net to trap her. But Rachel’s freaking out because she thinks she got Francis killed.
Then she gets mad. She’s never killed before, and she wants to get the witches who made her do it. The witch nearest her is chanting as he works with the others to cast the net, but Rachel’s on a tear now and she goes after him. I loved these lines: “I was angry and frustrated. I was tired of hiding in a church, tired of ducking splat balls, tired of dunking my mail in saltwater, and tired of being scared.” So does she cast a charm of her own? Nope, she punches him in the jaw and knocks him off-balance, then grabs his outstretched hand and breaks three of his fingers.
But the guy behind her says a word, and gets inside her head. Rachel goes down. Finally, Captain Edden and his FIB guys step in, taking down one of the witches and breaking the net. Rachel slides a sleep amulet to Nick and he drapes it over the second witch. The third is about to escape when Rachel uses her own bleeding neck to invoke another sleep amulet. She takes down the third witch.
Rachel rolls Francis over and he has a stupid smile on his face—he isn’t dead. So she screams “TAG!” at him, even though he’s unconscious. Edden walks over, and Rachel promptly passes out.
Next thing we know, Francis is spilling his guts in an FIB interrogation room. He claims he was only supposed to handle brimstone, but Trent switched the drops. The three boxes Francis had with him at the bus terminal are on the table, filled with…tomatoes! (Remember, bioengineered tomatoes were what caused the Turn in the first place so humans are petrified of tomatoes now.) Trent is hiding the drugs inside tomatoes so customs dogs can’t smell them.
Nobody quite has the nerve to pick one up. Rachel, who has one arm in a sling, finally raises her fist and smashes one. Inside is a tiny cylinder.
Francis begs for protection from Trent, but Rachel is angry. She tells him she saw him at Trent’s estate and knows he’s a black runner and he has to pay. She admits to Edden that Trent will try to kill him, though. Edden orders him a protective blanket and a secure cell.
While the FIB officers take Francis out to a van to transfer him to jail, Edden calls Denon at the I.S. on Rachel’s behalf and tells him the FIB will pay off her contract. Denon is not happy. Finally, the master amulet keyed to the hit on Rachel is dissolutioned, and she can breathe.
Before she can even stand up, however, thee’s a BOOM and Rachel knows who’s behind it: Trent. He’s blown up the van with Francis inside. Rachel’s moving slowly and Jenks delivers another favorite line from this chapter : “Get your sorry little white witch behind out there! I can’t see squat from here.”
Rachel joins Edden outside, and he tells her their deal still holds. But with Francis dead, their proof against Trent is gone.
Jenks spots Jonathan across the street. Nick and Jenks try to hustle Rachel away but she drops to the pavement so she can see Jonathan for herself. He’s hurrying toward a long black car parked down the street. The car window rolls down, Trent looks out and meets Rachel’s gaze, and he smiles before the car drives away. His face is a mass of bruises and his head is bandaged.
With a chill, Rachel realizes it was Trent–not Denon–who ordered the demon attack on her.
LET’S CHAT! I loved that Rachel, a very powerful witch even if she doesn’t quite know it yet, gets the bad guy by punching him out. What did you think of these chapters?
Is Trent just the creepiest SOB you’ve ever seen?