Publication Date: April 1, 2004
All the creatures of the night gather in "the Hollows" of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party...and to feed.
Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining - and it's Rachel Morgan's job to keep that world civilized.
A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she'll bring 'em back alive, dead...or undead.
I must confess that I love Charlaine Harris with a very deep and loyal sort of love - a love that began long before Sookie started drawling her way into the hearts of TrueBlood viewers (or even the hearts of Southern Vampires readers.) I love the Harris of Sweet and Deadly, A Secret Rage, and Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong, Sookie is great and all, but she's no Lily Bard or Nickie Callahan. I love Charlaine Harris because she was the first author I ever read who was willing to let her heroine get hurt; really, really hurt. Brutally so, in the most horrific of ways - as I had only ever seen victims be hurt before. What was so amazing about this, for me, was that she enabled these women who had been victimized to be what I had previously assumed to be the antithesis of the victim: the heroine. They don't wait on someone to sweep in and rescue them - they rescue themselves. They don't let one incident define who they are - they define themselves. I know that she was not the first author to do so (nor will she be the last), however, she was my first experience with this, and I love her for it. Harris creates strong, smart, savvy women that have qualities that any woman could aspire to possess; and she gives women who have been victimized heroines worthy of them - women who take control of their own story.
So, you may be asking yourself why I would start a review of a Kim Harrison novel waxing on about Charlaine Harris. The answer is pretty simple: Harris loves promoting other authors. She promotes people she likes on her blog, in her interviews, in her books; and Kim Harrison's name just keeps popping up. (Harris even wrote the author endorsement right there of the front cover!) Because of Harris' endorsement(s), I expected a strong, smart savvy female lead, a little mystery, and some solid world building - and I was not disappointed!
Harrison's world building was a wonderful blend of the expected and unexpected, the ordinary and the absurd. Each of the different creatures had such fascinatingly different histories, and they were slowly unveiled (some more than others.) I thoroughly enjoyed Harrison's take on Pixies. And, I must say that the thing I will not name for spoilerly reasons which caused the humans to all die had me cracking up every time I thought about it. I really liked the way Harrison described the Hollows, and I think that a lot could be said about her use of neighborhoods in the novel and racial segregation by neighborhoods in the US.
Harrison's characters were, for the most part, really well crafted. I LOVED Jenks, and Rachel and Ivy were both intelligent, strong women willing to seize control of their own destiny - death threats be darned. Many of the lesser characters were intriguing enough to keep me reading - just to get a little more of them. And, wow, Trent is such a wonderful bad guy! (Or is he?) I also like that there is some ambiguity here. It is clear that Dead Witch Walking is the start of something much bigger, because, even though the primary mystery has been solved, there are so many other little ones left for another day.
I must say, though, that two things sort of threw a kink in my Harrison love: one small, one big. I really got tired of the clothing descriptions! All this skin-tight leather (girls) and flowing silk (guys) just really got old. But more distressing was the relationship between Rachel and Ivy. It starts off as a WONDERFUL potential love interest set up - the chemistry is fabulous. If Ivy had been a guy EVERY reader would have been shipping them by the end of the first chapter. However, despite writing the attraction in such a way that it feels two sided most of the time, Harrison repeatedly makes Rachel think/say some pretty awful things about/to Ivy - telling the reader it is all one sided despite showing us something completely different. It isn't very positive toward Ivy or lesbians (or members of the LGBTQ community in general), and I really wasn't sure what she was trying to say (especially considering the chemistry between the supposed love interest, Nick, was flatter than even Rachel's chemistry with Trent!) Or, put more accurately, I was constantly going between what I hoped she meant and what I thought she meant. I will hold judgment on this issue until I read further in the series, but if something doesn't change this will be a deal breaker.
I downloaded my copy to my Nook from Barnes and Noble
Review also on Goodreads