Dead Witch Walking
Written by: Kim Harrison
Published by: Harper Torch
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I picked up Dead Witch Walking, by Kim Harrison on one of my fishing expeditions through a local bookstore. Being a big fan of Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld series, I was eager to find another female writer of equal or better caliber to read and review. A quick skim of Dead Witch Walking was enough to give me hope and I bought it on the spot.
Dead Witch Walking, published by Harper Torch, is a fantasy story, set in Cincinnati in an alternative version of our world. It follows the life of Rachael Morgan, a powerful Earth Witch who works as a Runner for Inderland Security. In this reality, Inderlanders, (aka: vampires, witches, werewolves, pixies and so forth) were always around, lurking in the shadows of humankind for centuries. It wasn’t until an attempt to make a genetically altered food source back in the 1960’s went horribly wrong, causing the deaths of millions of humans, that the Inderlanders made their presence known to this version of the world. They rose up from obscurity and helped mankind put the pieces of their nearly ruined civilization back together. As a result, the world knew about magic, demons and vampires, and two main corporations emerged to police the activities between the two races—the FIB (Federal Inderlander Bureau, which is run strictly by humans and was considered by Inderlanders to be somewhat of a joke) and the IS (Inderlander Security, which is the place to be if you’re an Inderlander on the right side of the law).
The story picks up with Rachael, a despondent Runner—basically a sort of beat cop/hunter—on yet another waste-of-time mission for the I.S. to apprehend a rogue leprechaun. Instead of the usual Fairy as backup, the I.S. has stuck Rachael with a pixie named Jenks, who is foul-tempered and foul mouthed and doesn’t have any problems telling Rachael how little he appreciates being her backup. Upon apprehending the leprechaun, Rachael makes a choice to leave the job that has been openly trying to get her to quit by giving her every bottom-of-the-barrel job they could find and always stacking the deck against her so that she would come out empty-handed. She lets the leprechaun go, using one of the three wishes granted to her by it so as not to get caught, submits her resignation letter and makes plans to go into business for herself.
It should have been easy, but it wasn’t. Why? Because along with her came her pixie backup Jenks and—most importantly—Ivy Tamwood, living vampire and the I.S.’s best and brightest Runner. Ivy managed to buy out her contract, and the I.S. cares little for replaceable pixies, so that left Rachael to bear the full retributive weight of an angry Inderland-run agency. Within the hour, death-threats and assassination attempts become the norm for the former Runner. Her only protection is a vampire with control issues and a pixie with a bad attitude.
It isn’t long before Rachael hatches a plan to buy out her contract and get the I.S. off her back before they can get to her—take down Trent Kalamack, renowned business man and suspected Brimstone dealer. But can she evade her former coworkers long enough to find evidence against a man who has made being above the law an art form?
So how does this book rank? I’ll be honest. The pixie and the leprechaun in the beginning almost had me rethinking my choice, but the writing was fluid and enjoyable and the background story was so interesting that I pushed through my own prejudices. Before I knew it, the story had me hooked. Thankfully the leprechaun part was brief, and Jenks, the pixie, was as fleshed out a character as any other and ended up being one of my favorite characters in the story. Kim Harrison leaves enough hints and teases to keep me coming back for another round. Kim Harrison is definitely a great writer and one I’ll be keeping an eye on in the days to come. I look forward to picking up her next book, and I recommend you pick up this book…you won’t be disappointed.