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.