Ever gotten into that awkward situation where a friend lends you a book and urges you to read it, and you look at the cover with dismay, just *knowing* you’re going to hate it but not wanting to be rude? Yeah, that’s how Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking ended up on my Now Reading list.
And guess what? The old saw is true. You *can’t* judge a book by its cover, because this one turned out to be quite an enjoyable read. Great literature? No, but not everything has to be, does it? Harrison mixes two parts fantasy with 1 part detective fiction here, adds in a dash of alternate history, and the result is just good fun.
Rachel Morgan is a witch in a world very similar to ours, except in her world, a bio-engineered plague wiped out a good chunk of humanity. When it did, the vampires, werewolves, witches, pixies and fairies (Inderlanders, they call themselves) came through unscathed. Seems they’ve always been here, hiding in plain sight often enough, but they’ve kept a very low profile. When the plague (or The Turn, as they call it) hit and the humans were all sick or dying, the Inderlanders stepped forward and kept society from falling apart. That was 40 or so years ago. Humanity has rebounded, and now humans and Inderlanders co-exist uneasily. (That, at least, is how I understand things…future volumes may correct me.)
When it comes to law enforcement, there are two parallel branches: the FIB takes care of human crime, and the IS takes care of Inderlander activities. Rachel is a ‘runner’ for the IS. She tracks down Inderlanders that are breaking various laws, such as vampires feeding on unwilling snacks, or witches using black magic. Her boss and she don’t exactly see eye to eye, though, and he’s been feeding her crap cases for so long that she finally up and quits, in spite of the fact that she has a contract. Much to her surprise, several of her co-workers join her in leaving the IS. Even more surprising, her ex-boss puts out a contract on her, and now she’s under siege by all manner of Inderlander assassination squads.
Her only hope is to set up a sting operation to take down a rich and powerful figure who she suspects is a Brimstone dealer. If she can hand this guy to the authorities she’ll have enough clout to buy off the contract on her.
Trust me…it all works when you’re reading it!! I’m leaving out a lot of the fun stuff for fear of spoilers.
And it turns out this is one of those cast of character driven books. The plot is fun and interesting, sure, but the characters, and their interactions, are what keeps you turning pages as often as not. I’m having to sit on my hands in order to not expound on that, but let’s just say Rachel ends up with quite a diverse team of friends helping her out.
Again, not great literature and it isn’t going to change your worldview on anything. But its a fun read about characters that you’ll come to care about. Harrison has written a bunch of books in this world and I look forward to re-visiting it again in the future. 3.5/5 amulets. 🙂