Blood Work by Kim Harrison – Review

Book Jacket:

When Ivy met Rachel, the result wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Sparks flew as the living vampire and the stubborn witch learned what it meant to be partners. Now Kim Harrison, the acclaimed author of Pale Demonand Black Magic Sanction, turns back the clock to tell the tale—in an original full-color graphic novel.

Hot-as-hell, tough-as-nails detective Ivy Tamwood has been demoted from homicide down to lowly street-crime detail. As if rousting trolls and policing pixies instead of catching killers wasn’t bad enough, she’s also been saddled with a newbie partner who’s an earth witch. It’s enough to make any living vampire bare her fangs. But when a coven of murderous witches begins preying on werewolves, Rachel Morgan quickly proves she’s a good witch who knows how to be a badass.

Together, Ivy and Rachel hit the mean streets to deal swift justice to the evil element among Cincinnati’s supernatural set. But there’s more to their partnership than they realize—and more blood and black magic in their future than they bargained for.

 You can read an excerpt here.


For us Hollows fans, this is the story we’ve always wanted to read – the story of when Rachel and Ivy first met. But I have to warn you, if you’re a Hollows first timer, Blood Work is not a good place to start. Yes, this book may be a prequel, but it is definitely a book built for those already invested in the series. That’s not to say you HAVE to be a series aficionado to appreciate this story – you can definitely walk up to this book knowing absolutely nothing about the characters or the world and follow along just fine – but you’ll be missing out on a lot if you do. Trust me, if you’re looking for a series intro, Dead Witch Walking is the book you want. For Hollows insiders, however, this story is very much like chocolate candy – delicious but over far too soon.

So I freely admit, I’m biased – I prefer books of the printed word variety. I dabble in graphic novels from time to time – yes, I’ve read Watchmen – but I’m a fast reader, and graphic novels, for me, are always over far too soon. This time around, with a story about beloved characters in a situation I’ve always wanted to see them in, that feeling was quadrupled – I so very, very badly wanted there to be MORE. Seeing Ivy and Rachel on their first case together was fantastic fun – I love how Ivy is immediately knocked off balance, and the ways in which Rachel challenges Ivy right off the bat. I particularly loved seeing Rachel’s impulsive, intuitive nature from the outside (as the Hollows series is told from Rachel’s POV), because it really brought home the leaps she takes, mentally and physically, and how they bewilder all those around her. Without hearing the story from Rachel’s point of view, without her inner commentary explaining how she arrives at her conclusions, we’re kind of left trailing behind her in slightly befuddled fashion, which is a very, very fun perspective on her character.

Blood Work, as you may have guessed, is told from Ivy’s point of view, and I really enjoyed the chance to be inside Ivy’s head, especially as she’s a character that always has so much going on internally. It was fascinating to have a front row seat to Ivy’s inner battles, but again the graphic style limitations frustrated me. I just wanted more – more of Ivy’s thought process and emotions, and especially more of her snark. Still this story does bring Ivy to some very insightful self realizations and they inform her character in interesting ways. I loved having the chance to get to know her better, particularly given how scarce she’s been in the last couple of Hollows book. Seeing what makes Ivy tick, seeing her first start to fall in love, is just a lot of fun (particularly for Ivy/Rachel shippers like myself). I did really, really enjoy the content of the story – there just wasn’t enough of it to fully satisfy my Hollows cravings.

I also had a few quibbles with the story itself – one of which was with Rachel’s savvy. She’s the rookie of the team, and yet somehow she still manages to have all the answers. Where did these top notch detective skills come from? Don’t get me wrong, I like that Rachel is smart, but it strained my credulity just a little that Rachel was detecting circles around Ivy, particularly at this point in their careers. I also couldn’t help but feel that even though Ivy was telling this story, Rachel still managed to outshine her in many respects. Again, don’t get me wrong, Ivy without question gets to flex her muscles here – and all the character development is Ivy’s – but Rachel, with her flare and passion, still somehow manages to steal the show.

I’m really not knowledgeable enough about graphic novels to judge the art quality of this book, but Rachel and Ivy both looked right to me. I wasn’t entirely in love with the representation of Ivy pulling an aura, and I would have liked to see the vamps be scarier in general – I didn’t see any of Rachel’s fear of Denon at all – but I get how impossible is to represent auras visually. At least they give it a decent shot.

More than anything, this graphic novel makes me realize what a luxury it is to have a good three hundred pages of Hollows fun per book. I dearly missed the length and breadth that comes in novel form, but how badly I wanted more is in many ways a compliment to this story – I liked what I was reading that much. And happily, more is on the way – Kim Harrison is working on a second graphic novel that will pick up where this one left off, so we will get to see more of Rachel and Ivy getting to know each other. My heart may lie with words, but I am most assuredly looking forward to reading the next graphic novel installment.

Blood Work is a fast, light read that will most definitely whet your appetite for more Hollows fun. And I have to say, the wait for the next book feels even longer than it did before…

Byrt Grade: A- 

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Red Hot Books says:

I don’t know how meaningful this would be to someone who hasn’t read the series. But it’s a treat for fans.

Sci-Fi Fan Letter says:

The artwork wasn’t my favourite, as sometimes body parts were too big or small compared to the rest of the body or weren’t quite symmetrical. I thought the shading and colouring were pretty good, going for lifelike gradients rather than black shading lines. In the end, it’s a decent debut graphic novel with room for improvement. And I’m sure fans of the series will love seeing Ivy and Rachel meet – and clash – for the first time.

Chibineko says:

The story here is pretty light but it’s still pretty darn good. It’s nice to see how our dynamic duo met & I have to admit that my Ivy/Rachel shipping flared up again with this story.