“Master vampires were all bastards. But they kept us safe and alive, and they made us think we loved them. The more Piscary hurt me, the more I wanted him to. I couldn’t stop it, I didn’t know whether I would if I could. I was sick. Twisted. We all were. Blood, sex, love, all mixed up. There was no way out. I was dead even as I lived.”
– Ivy Tamwood, Blood Work by Kim Harrison
I love the characters in these novels – they’re family. Rachel, the ill-fated, romantically challenged “gray” witch/bounty hunter with a heart of gold; Ivy Tamwood, a super-sexy living vampire struggling with her violent nature; Jenks, a sarcastic, overworked pixie with a virtual army of children; Bis, a young gargoyle with untapped abilities…
I love Kim’s highly descriptive and immersive writing style. When I read a Rachel Morgan novel (Dead Witch Walking; The Good, the Bad, and the Undead; Every Which Way But Dead; et. al.), I feel like I’m home. After nine novels, the Hollows area of Cincinnati is more familiar to me than most “real” locales that I’ve frequented.
But if done right – and that is a big but – a graphics novel featuring Rachel Morgan could be mind-blowing. I patiently waited for it to hit the shelves…
Told from the perspective of Ivy, it begins with the vampiric detective being demoted from homicide to street detail – issuing traffic tickets, busting shoplifters, rousting bridge trolls, etc. – after framing her former supervisor for murder. And to add insult to injury, her ghoulish supervisor Denon informs Ivy that she has a new partner – a flighty earth witch named Rachel Morgan. Ivy knows that Piscary, the master vampire that rules the Hollows’ criminal underground, arranged for Rachel to be her partner – but why? Was it a punishment or a reward?
Investigating the murder of a werewolf that was made to look like a vampire attack, the dysfunctional duo tracks the clues to a cabal of black witches. But can a headstrong vampire and an intuitive witch work as a team long enough not to get each other killed?
There is so much to love about Blood Work: spectacular illustrations, invaluable insights into Rachel and Ivy’s past (and quite possible future!), and let’s not forget the glorious return of Kisten…
It’s fascinating as well to see how Kim adopted her writing style to the spare narrative of graphic novels. The storyline in Blood Work is direct, intense, the dialogue is staccato, but it's still unmistakably Kim.
I may be completely wrong about this but I think that this graphic novel subtly hints to the monumental conclusion of this series... we'll talk next year!
Bottom line: If fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows saga don’t read this treasure of a graphic novel, their overall experience with Rachel, Ivy and company will be sadly diminished.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.
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