Bane of Kings reviews Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis, published by Solaris Books, and the first in a series.
“Gustainis kicks off this series with a promising start. I am eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series.” ~The Founding Fields
Let me start by saying that I avoid Urban Fantasy like the plague, with a few exceptions, and those exceptions include some authors who I am huge fans of. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is one, and Justin Gustainis is another.
I was first introduced to Gustainis when I read Hard Spell, the opening novel in his Occult Crimes Investigation Series, published by Angry Robot books and released earlier this year, and I really enjoyed the witty, first person novel and the strong protagonist of Stan Markowski, so when I discovered that Gustainis had another series out, I leapt at the chance to read Black Magic Woman, and jumped straight into reading it. If you want to know the plot, check below:
Quincey Morris is a personal investigator, sharing similarities with Harry Dresden, from the aforementioned Dresden Files, and Elizabeth “Libby” Chastain, a White Witch, is his occasional partner. Reuniting to deal with a curse dating back to the Salem witch trials, they must use everything in their power to deal with the curse, and must travel all across the United States, following leads that will eventually lead them to where it all began.
Talk about déjà vu.
Although this novel is billed as ‘A Morris and Chastain Investigation’, Black Magic Woman really is divided into two halves. Not literally, but we get the occasional break from these two characters investigation to look at a separate one, which starts out as though it’s a different case altogether, and indeed – it happens in an entirely different continent, but as the book begins to draw to a close, these second adventures become ever more closely interlinked with those of the main characters.
After a series of brutal murders in South Africa, Agent Fenton seeks the aid of Detective Van Dreenan, who works for the African Occult Crimes Unit, (You can see where Gustainis got some of his ideas for Hard Spell from), and together, they must hunt down the killer who dabbles in Black Magic.
The novel as itself is a strong series opener, and I look forward to reading the next part in the series,Evil Ways, which I have on my shelf and waiting to be read. The plot itself is well thought out, and includes many twists and turns on the way, and you can really feel the tension as you get to the final pages of the book, and you just want to keep turning the pages to find out what the conclusion is.
Quincey Morris himself is a strong character, and I look forward to see how he develops in the next book. He’s not your typical protagonist in this genre, neither, for he lacks any special powers. He’s just like your average, normal bloke.
With the exception of being descended from the same Quincey Morris in Bram Stoker’s Dracula,and a paranormal investigator.
However, despite Quincey being a strong character, he isn’t really the main role in this novel, not at all. I’m going to agree with Fantasy Book Critic here and say that he doesn’t come close to becoming the main role in the novel, and Van Dreenan seems to take centre stage, despite this being a Morris and Chastain Investigation.
The action is well-written as well, and Black Magic Woman is packed full of it, right from start to finish, starting with what could have easily been a short story, if you will – a prelude to main novel that introduces Quincey to the readers, and drags them into the book.
Although the plot is pretty simple and straightforward, and predictable, once you get around that,Black Magic Woman should be a pretty good book to read.
More Morris and Chastain: Black Magic Woman, Evil Ways, Sympathy for the Devil
More Justin Gustainis: Hard Spell, The Hades Project.