Urban Fantasy 101 Stitch Reads The Hollows – Dead Witch Walking Chapters 16-20

Chapter sixteen begins with Rachel punching Ivy in the face because she thinks that Ivy has snuck into her room and is going to eat her out of nowhere so like… I’m starting this session Quite Annoyed.

Because I get that the point is that Rachel is on edge about living with an apex predator that’s also predatory in her direction, but… Ivy has pretty much just gotten over her “woe is me, don’t judge me harshly” thing. Why on earth would she be in Rachel’s room for anything short of an emergency since the reaction that she does get – Rachel punching her in the stomach – about what she can expect from a situation like this.

I woke from a sound sleep, jolted by the distant sound of glass breaking. I could smell wood incense. My eyes flashed open.

Ivy was bending over me, her face inches from mine.

“No!” I shouted, punching out in a blind panic. My fist caught her in the gut. Ivy clutched her middle and fell to the floor, struggling to breathe. I scrambled to crouch on my bed. My eyes darted from the gray window to the door. My heart pounded, and I went cold in a painful rush of adrenaline. She was between me and my only way out.

“Wait,” she gasped, her robe sleeve falling to her elbow as she reached to catch me.

“You backstabbing, bloodsucking vamp,” I hissed.

My breath caught in surprise as Jenks—no, it was Jax—flitted from the windowsill to hover before me. “Ms. Rachel,” he said, distracted and tense. “We’re under attack. Fairies.”

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, the beef between fairies and pixies is one of the most interesting things about this series. That is some worldbuilding that appeals to me. Because the witches and humans around them think “oh, they’re the same species, no biggie” but there’s a huge war between the two because of how pixies are undervalued and mistreated. Wow!

Another bit of cool worldbuilding is here with Ivy:

“Fairies don’t recognize holy ground,” she said. “They couldn’t care less.”

Because that… makes sense. Why would fairies, who aren’t vampires tired to Christian lore, give two shits about holy ground? That’s not their problem. That’s not their mythology. So I love this.

I also do love the aftermath of the pixies’ battle against the fairies. That part was really cool but haunting as Jenks described what he and his family went through to protect their territory. I think that Jenks honestly is a huge high point of the series so far – and yes, I’m only on the first book of this reread so it could change – because he’s just so… awesome.

On the subject of territory and worldbuilding, here’s a tidbit I found tantalizing:

The pixy/fairy animosity went far deeper than I had imagined. Being of the mind-set that no one could own the earth, pixies and fairies shunned the idea of property titles, relying upon the simple adage might makes right. And because they weren’t in competition with anyone but each other, the courts turned a blind eye to their affairs, allowing them to settle their own disagreements, up to and including killing each other, apparently. I wondered what had happened to whoever had the garden before Ivy rented the church.

But then there’s a return to the annoying ass “Ivy is a predator that scares Rachel” shit with:

I wasn’t going to touch your foot,” Ivy muttered as she stomped out.

I flushed. Well… I had woken up with her breathing on my neck.

I think the most annoying part of the Ivy and Rachel relationship is that there’s this part of my brain that belongs to my youonger self when I’d first read the series that’s like “wow, I still kind of ship it”. But I know better. I know that Ivy and Rachel don’t end up together. I know that the “will they, won’t they” goes on for way too long. I also know that Ivy deserves someone that understands her complex identity as a living vampire of color.

But teenage!Stitch is like “what if they kissed anyway” because my hindbrain has the common sense of a cabbage sometimes.

Chapter seventeen delivers my favorite line in pretty much the whole book, by the way, with Rachel telling Jenks that, “This is a witchocracy, not a democracy.”

Wow.

I love that for me?

And like then I get whiplash from what happens a few pages later: Ivy comes downstairs dressed in a disguise that’s comprised of a dress her vampire mother wore once she was alive and Rachel proceeds to basically frighten herself?

She’s like “whoa, that’s a dress a vampire like Ivy would wear for hunting humans, wow” and literally gets scared which then turns Ivy on/triggers her hunger and y’all… why are they like this? Especially because Rachel had actually asked Jenks if Ivy was drinking blood again and Jenks was like “nah, she’s not but she’s weird” and the chapter has that awkward Rachel-Scares-Herself moment but does end with the following weird ass shit:

“I shouldn’t have put this on again,” she said, her voice low and strained. “I’ll wait in the garden while you invoke your spell.” I nodded, and she drifted to the door, clearly making a conscious effort to move at a normal speed. I hadn’t noticed her standing up, but there she was, moving into the hallway. “And Rachel,” she said softly, standing in the threshold. “If I ever do start practicing again, you’ll be the first to know.”

Again, why are they like this?

And for the first time, why won’t they stop?

In chapter eighteen, Jenks and Rachel return to Trent’s property and like… it’s fine. Not a lot of worldbuilding or growth. Just… scene setting. The most important things that happen in this chapter are that Trent uses a thing called “sticky web” to keep pixies and fairies from spying on him and uh… that Rachel gets caught snooping again.

She really is not good at her job, let’s be real here.

But I do like Rachel in mink headspace. For one thing, it’s very hard for her to be Terrified of Ivy when she’s not in a form she thinks Ivy wants to munch on. So her not being preoccupied with that is nice. She’s also very aggressive in mink form and I adore her having a backbone… even if the people she’s cursing out with squeaks can’t like… understand her.

She’s also very… hornt.

We covered this last installment with her whole thing with Jenks and wanting him to be Rachel-sized or something but like… she goes above and beyond with Trent, I think.

I cracked an eyelid as Trent rose from his desk and strode restlessly to his music discs arranged in a recessed shelf beside the player. He cut a nice figure as he stood before them, so intent on his choice that he didn’t realize I was rating his backside: 9.5 out of 10. I took the.5 off for most of his physique being hidden behind a business suit that cost more than some cars.

I’d gotten another yummy look at him last night when he took off his jacket after everyone went home. The man had a very strong back. Why he kept it hidden behind that jacket was both a mystery and a crime. His tight stomach was even better. He had to work out, though I don’t know where he found the time. I would have given anything to see him in a bathing suit—or less. His legs had to be just as muscular, being the expert rider he was reputed to be. And if it sounded like I was a sex-starved nympho… Well, I didn’t have anything to do but watch him.

This is all just really funny to me.

Like she’s been a mink for several days in a row and she’s just like “yeah I’m gonna objectify this hot man because he literally has me in a cage and there’s nothing else to do with my time”. I’m… kind of proud of her for this.

Unfortunately, Trent quickly reminds us why he’s currently The Worst in This Book by uh…

First killing a whole ass dude in front of Rachel and clearly planning to kill his new secretary for catching him,

And then…

He lets his trigger happy right hand man Johnathan mistreat mink!Rachel for the hell of it before basically saying “let’s let her fight to the death with rats because it’s funny”. Which is the ominous note that this session ends on.

Next time?

Rat fights, yo.

About Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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