Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mini book review: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (and also my 1000th post)

Before we get down to the scintillating mini review of Dead Witch Walking (it's the review I'm being sarcastic about, not the book - the book is perfectly fine if not above average for urban fantasy), let's just revel in the fact that THIS IS THE 1000TH POST FOR THIS BLOG.  That's crazy.  I know I don't post all that regularly, and when I do it's either about fantasy novels or recap blogging for The Walking Dead or sometimes True Blood anymore.  But still, if you told me way back in 2007 that I would still be writing this in 2014, I don't think I would have believed you.  Some days, when I haven't read or watched anything worthwhile and am wracking my brains trying to come up with a post since I haven't posted in ten days, some days I think about giving up and shutting down.  I don't, though, because even if no one reads this, I can still throw it out there to the universe, thinking that some day, maybe someone will stumble across my Italian beef recipe or list of literary mice and enjoy it.  Happy 1000th Post Day to you all.

I learned about Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison through a "My Guilty Pleasure" piece on  I have been burned before with urban fantasy, for the same reasons Amal El-Mohtar expresses: "fluffy" (or sparkly) vampires and the "skeeze factor" (Laurell K. Hamilton, I'm looking at you).  The first book in Harrison's The Hollows series, Dead Witch Walking, avoids all that.  Yes, there is the generic urban fantasy book cover, with a back view of a sexy woman wearing leather pants with handcuffs at her belt.  Yes, it is told from a first-person point of view.  Yes, there are witches and vampires and fairies and pixies and what-all.  But there isn't any overt sex (yet), there's an unlikely trio banding together to make a living and fight supernatural crime, there's fighting and danger and mistrust and misunderstandings and mistakes.

Rachel Morgan is the titular witch.  She quits her job as a sanctioned paranormal bounty hunter and while her bosses let her go, she still has to pay off her contract plus there's a price on her head.  The agency's top bounty hunter, living vampire Ivy (you'll just have to read the book to learn the difference between living and dead vampires - dead ones are way worse), goes with her and, along with Rachel's pixy back-up Jenks, the three of them set up shop in an old church and hang out their shingle.  Rachel is a bit of a mess, an adrenaline junkie who doesn't think things through; Ivy is a cool, conflicted character who is bisexual and mixed race; Jenks, the least developed in this first book, is brave and funny and loyal ... and knows that his tiny pixy wife wears the pants in their family.  I thought the plot was a little muzzy at times - they don't catch the Big Bad so it all seems like a set up for subsequent books - but the characters and their relationships were unusual enough that I want to go back to the Hollows and see what comes next.

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