Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison

Forewarning: This review might be gushy as Kim Harrison is one of my all time favourite authors.

Demons, witches, and vampires -oh my! “Dead Witch Walking” has it all. Strong female character who is flawed and loyal to a fault. Check. Fully developed and unique secondary characters. Check. Magic, magic, and more magic. Check.

Harrison has set up this world with so many realistic layers, that it makes it plausible that this alternate world could exist. She cites something called the “Turn”, where genetically modified tomatoes wiped out most of the human race, leaving a gap for supernaturals to make themselves known and to step into positions of power. Having an explanation that explains the public acknowledgment of magic is something that is important to me in urban fantasy and horror stories. This book delivers.

The main character, Rachel Morgan, takes her life in her hands when she quits the I.S. (think police that focus on supernatural crimes), taking their best runner with her. Her rash decision is characteristic of how Rachel seems to make her choices. She acts on emotion, something which causes her to have more than one close call with her fiery temper.
Trying to pay off the bounty on her head, Rachel sets up her own investigation firm with her new partners, Ivy (a living vampire) and Jenks (pixie and backup extraordinare). The three of them set up shop in an abandoned church, trying to stay one step ahead of the witch assassins gunning for the bounty on Rachel’s head. Their investigations lead them to a wealthy business owner and manufacturer of illegal drugs (recreational and medicinal), Trent Kalamack. To investigate his shady dealings, Rachel turns herself into a rodent, only to get caught by Kalamack. Trent enters her in rat fighting contests, where she helps another human-turned-rodent escape from the ring. As if her life couldn’t get more complicated, a demon, Al, is summoned to kill both her and Trent.  Rachel barely escapes with her life  and to send the demon back to the ever after, she and Trent make a deal that seems to foreshadow more interactions in future books.

   “Your death is going to be a pleasure for both of us, Rachel Mariana Morgan. Such a twisted way to die – in pleasure”…

“What are you?” I rasped.

It smiled. “Whatever scares you.” 

In the end, Rachel is granted her independence from the I.S., but is left with a rodent-turned-human boyfriend, a pixy backup, a deal with an illegal drug manufacturer, and a demon mark. I recommend this book to any lover of fantasy, horror, and just an overall great story.

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#8sunday

This week’s #8sunday features my new favourite character, Lex. This is an earlier scene in Lex’s story. Her brother, revealed as a werewolf to the public, is sentenced to death for his alleged violent crimes. Ordered to stay at home, Lex watches her brother’s fate be determined.

I paced my kitchen, making laps into my living room to check the tv every few seconds. The streets were empty, the world held its breath while they tried the first werewolf on live television. I paused as I saw a familiar face come on the screen, my throat tightening at his bruised and swollen face.
We knew there would be no fairness in the trial, the humans were terrified, united as a species against a single enemy for the first time in history. They didn’t drag it out, their verdict was announced within an hour and my brother was paraded past the crowds that had swarmed to the courthouse. He shuffled past cameras and I closed my eyes. I knew it was dangerous but I couldn’t let him be alone. I reached into that part of me that felt like the earth, smelled of home, and where I could communicate with my pack as easily as breathing.

Thanks for reading! Check out other awesome writers at www.wewriwa.com

#8sunday

For my first 8sunday, I am posting the beginning to an urban fantasy story set in Northern Ontario where werewolf hunting has been legalized. Lex is one of two rogue werewolves hiding in her town. This particular night she has been kept at work too late and is trying to make it home before she turns.

My biceps were burning and shaking, sweat poured down my face as I concentrated on making it to my house. The streetlamp blurred, and I fell to my knee as I felt my ankle pop. I gritted my teeth. I was a half block away and could see my front gate, mostly obscured by the creeper vine I had overtaking my front yard. I pulled myself up using the mailbox and stiffened as a young couple rounded the corner, arm in arm. I limped forward, head bowed; hoping my curtain of black hair would make me unnoticeable.   It was not my lucky night.

I am more comfortable writing about magic and witches, but I have to say I kind of loved writing something with a creature beast in it and look forward to where Lex’s story will lead. Happy Sunday all, please check out other writers at www.wewriwa.com

Hell House – Richard Matheson

“Isn’t it just another so-called haunted house?”
“I’m afraid it isn’t. It’s the Mount Everest of haunted houses.”

Complex.Terrifying. Suspenseful. Creepy. I read Hell House since it was next on my list of recommendations from the Horror Writer’s Association book. After reading this gruesome and gory tale, I agree with reviews of it standing as one of the great haunted house tales.

Set in the 70’s,the story begins with old man Deutsch, an eccentric and wealthy man. Nearing the end of his life, he hires a group of specialists to stay at ‘Hell House’ and report to him if they find evidence of the afterlife. The first duo are Mr. and Mrs. Lionel Barrett. Barrett is a parapsychologist who views the stay as the opportunity to complete his life’s research and prove the scientific, rather than supernatural, basis for the hauntings at Hell House. His young wife, Edith, joins him, only to fall victim to the house’s salacious ghosts. Two mediums round off the foursome. The first, Pastor Florence, endures physical and psychological torment from the ghosts. Her beliefs in the afterlife are put down again and again as rubbish by Barrett.The second medium,Peter, was the lone survivor from a group that had entered the house decades earlier. Too afraid to open himself to the House again, his decision not to join forces with Florence results in her violent demise.

The characters’ are pitted against one another – their desires and vulnerabilities drawn out by the dark force living in the bowels of Hell House.

Matheson is able to elicit a real visceral reaction to the terrors and depravities of the house and its previous guests. The characters make you feel pity for them while also feeling disgusted and horrified by the events they are put through.
I recommend this book to those with a hard stomach, and a taste for the suspenseful and horrific.

Conjure Wife – Fritz Leiber

Recommended by the Horror Writers Association as one of the most influential novels ever written in the horror genre, Conjure Wife delivered.  Written by Fritz Leiber in the early 1940’s, this is an urban fantasy classic, bringing together ritualistic magic and suburban America of the forties. This unique perspective on witchcraft as a gender specific practice is set within the politically-fraught college life. The protagonist, Norman Saylor, is professor of sociology at a distinguished college. Finding poppets from magic rituals amongst his wife, Tansy’s, belongings, he forces her to destroy them all. He believes his wife is delusional, and resists the notion of magic, even after it has caused him harm.

Norman Saylor is a realistic character, we feel for him as he clings to the reality and order that he knows. This is made more difficult for him as his career begins to take a nosedive, now unaided by his wife. As a successful professor, and now unprotected, Norman becomes the target of malicious magic, crafted by other Professor’s wives.

Presenting this world as exactly the same as what we know today, with one small, dark change, makes it easier to relate to and to understand, especially as we are taken through Norman’s logic and reasoning regarding the existence of real magic. He tries to use logic, even as he is wading through a curse that has been set upon him

“Thoughts are dangerous, he told himself, and thoughts against all science, all sanity, all civilized intelligence, are the most dangerous of all. He felt their presence here and there in his brain, like pockets of poison, harmless as long as you left them encysted and did not prick them.”

Norman and Tansy’s connection is sweet, making you root for them as they fight together against dark forces, a stone dragon, and a rare coven of  witches out for power.

I recommend this book to any lover of urban fantasy, witches, and the supernatural.

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