Black Magic Woman
Published 2008 317 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Occult investigator Quincey Morris and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain, are called in to help free a desperate family from a deadly curse that appears to date back to the Salem Witch Trials. To release the family from danger they must find the root of the curse, a black witch with a terrible grudge that holds the family in her power.
The pursuit takes them to the mysterious underworlds of Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, and New York, stalking a prey that is determined to stay hidden. After surviving a series of terrifying attempts on their lives, the two find themselves drawn inexorably towards Salem itself—the very heart of darkness.
Black Magic Woman is the first Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigation novel by Justin Gustainis. This isn’t the author’s first published work. Justin Gustainis is also the author of several short stories and has written a previous novel called The Hades Project. (In fact the first chapter of this book started its life, in a slightly different form, as a short story called Fistful of Fangs in the book The Ghostbusters: Vampire Hunters.)
First off, I have to be honest and say that Black Magic Woman isn’t really a vampire novel. The story does have vampires in it and the protagonist, Quincey Morris, has an obvious vampire connection (the clue is in the name – he’s a direct descendant of Mr Quincey P. Morris of the Dracula novel fame) but this book is actually about Quincey’s work as a supernatural consultant and investigator.
That is not to say that Quincey doesn’t have to deal with vampires, the first chapter of the novel sees him clearing out a nest of vampires from a small Texan town but once they are all dead that is the last the reader sees of vampires for this novel.
The first chapter introduces the reader to Quincey and effectively shows the reader that he is just a human. He is a man with some knowledge of the supernatural, a lot of courage and a genuine desire to help people under threat from evil – and this doesn’t change during the course of the book. He gains no mystical powers and he isn’t psychic, a vampire, werewolf or any other kind of supernatural creature. This what makes Black Magic Woman different from a lot of the other contemporary fantasy novels currently written. Usually the protagonists of fantasy novels have some special power or are supernatural creatures themselves but Quincey is human and this story is told from a human point of view.
This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t use magic, his partner Libby is a white witch and she uses wards, charms and spells to great effect but these are a subtle magic and it has a more real, human, feel to it.
One of the other major differences between Black Magic Woman and other fantasy novels is the way that the story has been constructed. Black Magic Woman is constructed more like a crime novel than a fantasy novel. The multi-faceted plot lines are seen from the perspectives of different characters. For example, some of the story follows an FBI agent’s investigation a series of child murders another plotline follows the evil actions of an African witch, all plotlines are connected and tie together at the end for the reader but the characters themselves are not necessarily aware of the existence of these other characters and plot lines.
At this point, some you might be thinking that with human heroes, a crime novel feel and subtle magic Black Magic Woman doesn’t sound like good fantasy reading but that is where you would be wrong – this book is one of the best written fantasy novels I’ve read this year (and I’ve read a lot!)
Black Magic Woman is an exciting and intelligent read. With its original take on the supernatural and thrilling action it has plenty to entertain even the most demanding fantasy fan, as well as having cross over appeal for crime/mystery readers. Don’t take my word for it - check it out for yourself!
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