Slow-starter, but more than made up for in the last 75%

Dead Witch Walking  - Kim Harrison

My Initial Reaction…

I read Dead Witch Walking about a year ago and devoured it. Now that Kim Harrison is doing a read-along I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to reread the series and review the books as I go. The second time around I liked this book even more than the first time and it’s definitely still a favorite series.

The Narration…

Marguerite Gavin is a pretty good narrator. I’m listening to another series with her right now and enjoying her narration much more than I did in Dead Witch Walking. I think this is one of those situations where, when you read a book the first time, you have certain voices in your head and anything else just sounds off. Despite that, I got comfortable with her style and think she did a decent job embodying the characters.

The Characters…

I love Rachel and seeing her in these early days after seeing where she’ll go made this first book so much more interesting. Even so early on she’s tough and capable. She’s funny and what I love most is that she’s genuinely good. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone – the idea of killing an animal, even to save her own life, pisses her off. And unlike much of the magical community she treats supposed “lessers” like Pixies and Fairies like people too. But life isn’t being kind to her and she’s ready for a change. So she quits her job as a Runner for the IS (Interlander Security) and, because she happens to take Ivy (their best runner) along for the ride, from the second she leaves she’s under a death threat. Seeing her deal with the death threat reveals a lot about the strength she has inside and you can see lots of potential ready to burst out.

The second time around I also realized that all the characters, from even this really early point, are wonderfully developed. Ivy, a living-vampire and Rachel’s new partner/roommate, is fighting with her nature and her destiny. She wants to be someone different and you can see it tearing her up. Jenks, their pixy partner, is marvelous (and will become a favorite character for me). He’s hilarious, but so much more than comic relief; he’s braver and more essential to Rachel’s survival than you’d think anyone a few inches tall could possibly be. Then there’s Trent, Nick, Kinglsey… I could go on and on. Every supporting character is full of depth and fun to read.

The Story…

Dead Witch Walking centers around Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks decision to leave the IS and the disastrous consequences for Rachel. Ivy was able to buy her way out of her contract. Jenks didn’t have a contract. The IS wanted to get rid of Rachel, but they hadn’t planned on her taking their best runner, Ivy, with her. And they expect her to pay – with her life. No matter how good Rachel is – and she’s good – or how great Ivy and Jenks are at keeping her safe – and they’re great – eventually one of the IS’s contract killers will get lucky. So Rachel knows she has to find a way to get the contract paid off. And when she learns that Trent Kalamak, sexy councilman and wealthy businessman, may be involved in running drugs on the side she decides that tagging him will be her ticket out. Too bad he’s not easier prey – catching him will be more than Rachel bargained for and she just might not make it out alive.

I remember getting hung up on the story development the first time I read Dead Witch Walking and, even though I followed it better this time because I knew where I was headed, I stick by my earlier judgments. The first quarter of the Dead Witch Walking really drags and is awkward in a lot of places. It’s easy to get confused and it really seems that the story should have started when Rachel quit her job and filled in a lot of the earlier (and slow moving) details as Rachel’s race to save her life moved along, but at least once you get to that part you know you’re to the good stuff!

Concluding Sentiments…

Ultimately, Dead Witch Walking suffers from what I call “first book syndrome” – there’s so much world to develop that the story suffers a bit. Having read further I know that it’s worth sticking with it through that first bit, because Harrison is laying the groundwork for what will be a fantastic world. And once you get passed the first 25% it’s a nonstop race to the end!

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2013/10/audio-review-dead-witch-walking-kim-harrison.html