Friday, January 17, 2014

Dead Witch Walking (Review)

(The Hollows, #1)

Release Date: July 1st, 2004
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genres: Adult Urban Fantasy

My Review: (4/5 stars*)

Dead Witch Walking is the first novel in The Hollows series, and it begins with promise. It has an exciting supernatural world, offbeat inhabitants, and a diverting plot. The lead Rachel has attitude and a proclivity to make dangerous moves. She steps on a lot of toes, and makes a mountain of enemies, but she has a few loyal friends that stand by her side. Urban fantasy is one of my genre weaknesses and sometimes you end up with a dud of a book that sounds good but isn't, this however, doesn't land into that pitfall. It has a freshness to it, and a good set-up with real potential. Dead Witch Walking has a variety of characters comprised of witches, warlocks, pixies, fairies, werewolves, vampires, and demons.

The protagonist is Rachel Morgan, a strong, spirited, act first, think later bounty hunting witch. Almost immediately you're hit with wave of otherworldly details that can seem daunting. There is a lot that needs to be acknowledged along with supernatural history and a list of characters to remember. When I first jumped in I felt nervously engulfed by the info dropped, and I feared I wouldn't catch everything. Reading slower and consuming little by little helped me retain it all. The world is dark with supernatural beings roaming freely and openly with humans. I like that humans are aware of them because many UF play up the hidden in plain sight card too often. Much of the story is unique and goes in surprising directions, and watching the heroine stave off assassins is fun because a lot of those attempts go unimaginably wrong for both parties.

Rachel Morgan is tired of being under-appreciated and handed jobs well below her skill level. She's a powerful witch who is a runner (bounty hunter) for the I.S. (Inderlander Security). Inderlanders are the supernatural creatures that exist alongside humans. Working for the I.S. has become a joke so when a golden opportunity arises to quit in the form of a tax-evading leprechaun she doesn't hesitate to take it. What Rachel wasn't expecting is to have company with a crabby half-living vampire named Ivy, and a spunky little pixy that goes by Jenks. If that isn't surprising enough she discovers that her former employer has hired hit-men to take her out and she's fair game. Rachel will do whatever is necessary to pay off the contract that she broke to stop being targeted. It seems that her ex-boss isn't the only one who wants her dead, and she'll cross dangerous lines to protect herself.

The most enjoyable quality of this book is the overwhelming potential the story has to be incredible. It has a huge world with so many corners to be explored. There are multiple characters, and each has a unique voice that makes you curious about them. The core four Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, and Trent all have layers, and developing back-stories that are only just surfacing. They have unknown motives, a heap of questions surrounding what some of them are, and perplexing pasts. There are two relationships that take form with the lead, and one as it would appear is with Ivy. I'm not sure if the feeling is mutual or if that's what the author is pushing towards but their is undeniably something between them. What I didn't care for was how long some parts of the story were and the time it took to reach exciting scenes. The start is pretty slow to pick up but if you make it past that it does improve. Of the characters Rachel, Jenks, and Trent are my favorites. Rachel can kick a** at times, Jenks whose personality bothered me completely transforms into the funny, caring, side-kick. Trent—who we don't get to see too much of—is one of the main bad guys but he's gorgeous, and exchanges entertaining banter with the lead and I'm hoping he becomes a more important character later on. The last problem I had a hard time with was the strange—stopping short—sentences that leaves you a little confused and pulls you from your reading.

Dead Witch Walking is a fascinating UF with a very cool and creative world, suitable action, sexual tension, a light peppering of mystery, and some humor thrown in especially from the sassy Jenks. Harrison raises intrigue and weaves together a well-plotted story. Even though the writing got a little weird at times I still loved it. I can see there's a lot of stuff yet to be revealed and I'm looking forward to starting the next installment. Urban fantasy fans who enjoy a wise-cracking, bada** heroine will have a great time with this series.


Creatures of the night gather in the Hollows of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party, and to feed. Vampires rule. Bounty hunter and witch, Rachel Morgan keeps that world civilized. With serious sex appeal and an attitude, she'll bring 'em back alive, dead, or undead.


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