DEAD WITCH WALKING
(The Hollows #1)
by Kim Harrison
The underground population of witches, vampires, werewolves—creatures of dreams and nightmares—has lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But after a genetically engineered virus wipes out a large part of humanity, many of the "Inderlanders" reveal themselves, changing everything.
Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter with the Inderland Runner Services, is one of the best at apprehending supernatural lawbreakers throughout Cincinnati, but when it comes to following the rules, she falls desperately short. Determined to buck the system, she quits and takes off on the run with an I.S. contract on her head and is reluctantly forced to team up with Ivy, Inderland's best runner . . . and a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shape-changing assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crime lord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death . . . not to mention her own roommate.
Rachel is dead. At least, she will be, soon. You can't just quit the I.S. The last guy who did, well. . . let's just say that didn't end well. Her vampire partner, Ivy, and pixie partner, Jenks, both quit with Rachel to help watch her back. Jenks is okay, if a little chatty, but Rachel's not so sure that Ivy has all of her vampire impulses under control. On top of everything, she's been booted from her apartment and all of her possessions have been cursed. With a potentially unsafe vampire living with her and hit squad after hit squad coming after her, Rachel has to find a way to prove herself, take down public enemy number one (aka Trent Kamalack, a popular businessman), earn enough to pay off her remaining contract with the I.S., and stay alive. Preferably sooner, because later she might be dead.
The beginning of Dead Witch Walking was a little slow, and I had a hard time getting into it, but one of my Goodreads friends spurred me on, and this ended up being a fantastic read. Rachel is likeable, if a little overly confident in her abilities, and I completely empathized with her wanting to get out of the I.S. Her boss was a total jerk (and later continued to prove this fact many times over). Ivy and Jenks were great as Rachel's partners - they antagonized each other but still both had Rachel's best interests at heart. They were also both fonts of fascinating cultural material - Ivy as a living vampire, the last living member of her family, and Jenks as a pixie, with his turf wars and many many children. Harrison has created a world that makes you want to keep reading, if only to discover more about it.
Dead Witch Walking is a great introduction to what will hopefully be a great series. I can't recommend it more!
Titles and correct reading order for The Hollows series can be found here. Harrison also has a young adult paranormal series called Madison Avery - the original novella can be found in the Prom Nights from Hell anthology, and the first book is called Once Dead, Twice Shy. If you liked Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, you should enjoy the Madison Avery books.