Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club, where we're reading the first book in Kim Harrison's Hollows series, DEAD WITCH WALKING.
Here’s how it works. Each week, I’ll post a summary (spoiler alert!) on two chapters, and we’ll chat about them. Try to minimize spoilers beyond what’s happened in the book we’ve read so far. You can read along, read ahead, or just stop by and read the summaries. After the Book Club has been up a few days, I’ll move it to archives so you can still come back and read. There’s a “Book Club” tab above. So, let’s get started!
DEAD WITCH WALKING, CHAPTERS 25 and 26
When we last left Rachel, she and Nick (formerly known as the Bloody Baron and a human with a great deal of knowledge about Inderlanders) were in the library's double-secret room looking for black spells to use in protecting Rachel against Trent Kalamack. An enormous, slavering dog had appeared and spoken Rachel's full name, asking which of them was "Rachel Mariana Morgan."
The dog jumps on Nick and Rachel screams. Bad idea, she realizes, belatedly, as the dog turns to look at her. Its eyes are red, with pupils slit sideways like a goat's. That is NEVER a good thing. Turns out the thing appeared as a dog because someone is afraid of dogs--and he was sent to kill Rachel and make sure she was afraid. As soon as he realizes which one is Rachel--and that she isn't afraid of dogs--the creature morphs into something he thinks she might be afraid of--a punked-up rapist. But she fights him. He morphs again, into a "sophisticated young man dressed in a formal frock and coat" with "a pair of smoked glasses perched on its narrow nose." She can't figure out what he is.
But the more she fights, and the weaker she gets, the more the creature--okay, I'll just say it's a demon because we know by the end of the chapters--can read her thoughts and fears. He sees what Rachel fears most is dying by vampire while she thinks she's enjoying it. So he pulls the image of Ivy's sex-on-a-stick friend Kisten from Rachel's mind and becomes Kisten. But even then, he realizes it's not Kisten she's afraid of, and slowly he morphs into a demonic Ivy lookalike, even to the scent of orange juice on her breath and the words she's used on Rachel. How creepy is this scene!?
Rachel continues to spar with the demon, who gets in some brutal hits even before morphing into an Ivy lookalike, and she gets weaker and weaker. He bites her, and she feels the vampire good times as she starts bleeding out. Finally, Nick--who's been struggling to get into the locked cabinet where the REALLY black magic spellbooks are located--manages to clock the demon with a book and form a circle of magic around him so he can't escape.
Jenks is able to swoop down and try to stop Rachel's bleeding with some of his fairy dust, and Nick is verbally sparring with the demon and trying to figure out how to help Rachel. Rach is in la-la-land, for the most part but we learn some things. There hasn't been a demon attack since the Turn (40 years earlier), but Nick did take demonology in his studies. We don't know exactly how Nick is involved with this demon yet, but we (and Rachel) know he at least knows how to summon and contain a demon.
Rachel tells Jenks to go after Ivy, but Nick is afraid Rachel will bleed to death before Ivy can get there. Against Rachel's protests, he strikes a deal with the demon (after sticking the blackest of spellbooks in Rachel's backpack--sneaky move). The demon promises to take them to Ivy--through the ever-after (think: hell version of Cincinnati). In return, he wants no compulsion put on him to return to the ever-after. Nick says it's safe because the demon can't lie and he has to go back at sunrise anyway. He knows this because he read it in a book about demons. Uh-huh.
Another interesting thing here: The demon learns where Rachel lives and is surprised because someone--he first assumes it's perhaps Nick, then realizes it's Rachel--did some powerful magic there six nights ago that rippled through the ever-after. This is another good inkling for us of just how strong Rachel's magic has the potential to be--and the demon realizes it, too.
Nick strikes a deal with the demon and, next thing we know, Rachel wakes up outside the church. Nick is carrying her, and he and Ivy are arguing. Rachel's trying to pull herself out of her semi-conscious state enough to tell them to get her inside already. While they're arguing we learn some interesting tidbits Nick somehow knows--that Ivy was already living at the church, and had been for a while, before Rachel quit the I.S. This is not what she told Rachel. Nick accuses Ivy of some "long-range planning," i.e., to eventually make Rachel her human scion--which Ivy denies. But obviously, Ivy has some secrets we don't know about.
Ivy cleans Rachel up, but manages to keep herself under control around all the blood, while Rachel has her wits about her enough to not freak out around Ivy. Rachel's still in bad shape, though, and finally Matalina (Mrs. Jenks) comes in and tells them to get the older guy who lives across the street, Mr. Keasley, to come.
Lest you ignore him too quickly, I'm going to do a semi-not-really-Spoiler here and say, remember the demon. Demon=major character. Now, that having been said, who do you think sent the demon after Rachel? And what do you think Nick's story is? Lots of question-marks raised in these chapters!