Bane of Kings reviews the next instalment in the urban fantasy series by Justin Gustainis, Evil Ways, published by Solaris Books.
“The time is ticking and the end of the world is at stake. Can Morris and Chastain to save the day again?” ~The Founding Fields
After relatively enjoying Black Magic Woman, the first novel in the Morris and Chastain Investigations, I delved into Evil Ways and got, more or less a similar quality of writing from Gustainis.
Almost a year after the events in the previous book, we rejoin the Private Investigator Quincey Morris along with characters first introduced in Black Magic Woman, with Agent Fenton of the FBI returning to steal some of the attention away from Morris and Chastain, and keep the same problem that I had with the first book still lingering around, it’s a Morris and Chastain investigation, but we want to learn more about Fenton than we do Morris and Chastain.
White witches are being hunted down and killed and seems as though Libby is next on the list. Quincey Morris however, finds himself on the trail of a series of murders were young children are having their eternal organs taken from them. With the aid of Fenton and some other colleges, they must track down the source of the persons responsible, and all clues seem to lead to the mad, dying billionaire Walter Grobius, who hopes to make himself immortal.
And as Walpurgis Night draws closer, time is running out.
The characters are, like with the first instalment, intriguing, the banter between Libby and Quincey is still there, although not as much – and there is also a visit to Chicago, where a character from another popular urban fantasy (Cough Dresden Files Cough) is mentioned, with the permission of Jim Butcher of course.
I avoid urban fantasy like the plague normally, and I there are very few exceptions, as I don’t particularly like the ‘two people from different backgrounds where one is normally some sort of supernatural being fall in love’ storyline that seems to be popular with urban fantasy nowadays, but to those that are looking for a change in the genre, Evil Ways provides a refreshing break and is enjoyable particularly if you are a fan of the Dresden Files. After all, there is a visit to Chicago.
The locations in this story play as much part as the characters themselves. Chicago is not only the sole destination for the characters in this novel as the storyline takes to places as varied and as a wide as Iraq. This helps the change the pace in the storyline and adds to the sense of danger involved in this novel, which Gustainis has done a brilliant job of inventing, with short points of views from the attacked witches as well as the bad guys themselves.
Evil Ways is a dark and violent urban fantasy, with a quick read made enjoyable by Gustainis’ mostly strong prose and, when combined with the fact that you don’t have to read Black Magic Woman before you read Evil Ways, which makes it a nice touch particularly if you’re looking to start Gustainis’ series.
From the way that Gustainis dropped a load of spells, rituals, symbols and certain set of rule-abiding incantations, you can tell that he did a large amount of research into the occult during the process of writing the novel, making Evil Ways seem more ‘real’ in a sense than some of the other urban fantasy stuff on the market.
There is a lot of action in here as well, that keeps the novel moving despite the fact that there aren’t that many twists involved. The next fault that I’m going to say here isn’t Gustainis’s, but it’s more of mine, and that’s because I picked the series up late, thus making the story more predictable than it would’ve been if I hadn’t had read it upon its release date.
All that said though, bring on Sympathy for the Devil! The excerpt attached to the back of the book makes it look more entrancing than it first was, and the third book’s blurb was what made me want to pick up this series, other than the fact that it was by Justin Gustainis, whose Hard Spell novel was immensely enjoyable. And on that bombshell:
More Morris and Chastain: Black Magic Woman, Evil Ways, Sympathy for the Devil
More Justin Gustainis: Hard Spell, The Hades Project
Bane of Kings is one our most senior book reviewers here at The Founding Fields, based in England. He’s a prolific reviewer that has contributed to many things here and around the internet.