Quincey Morris is a paranormal investigator, sometimes working alone and at other times with colleagues and friends. Hired to help the LaRue family who are the victims of a centuries old curse, he reunites with Libby Chastain, white witch extraordinaire, to investigate the mysterious events that have been plaguing the family since the death of Mrs LaRue's mother. Following leads across the country, Morris and Chastain encounter black witches, demons and zombies in a race to lift the curse before it is too late.
Meanwhile, investigating a series of bloody and brutal murders, Agent Fenton has called in Van Dreenan, a detective who works for the South African Occult Crimes Unit, to assist him. With obvious signs of the murders relating to black magic, Van Dreenan and Fenton are on the hunt, but with only a limited time before the murderers have fulfilled their task will they find them in time?
One of the great things about running a blog is that you come across things, one way or another, that you normally wouldn't look twice at. Black Magic Woman is one of those. Justin Gustainis contacted me before Christmas about an excerpt from his new book, Evil Ways, that was available on Book Spot Central. I had a read of it and even though it's out of my comfort zone, it sounded intriguing and read really easily. Solaris were kind enough to send me a copy of Black Magic Woman, the first book in the series so I could start from the beginning and fully appreciate the story. I tore through the book in a few days and loved every minute of it!
As we join Quincey he's about to take on a house full of vampires in a little town. Not only does this start the ball rolling very nicely, but it also give a very good idea of things to come. Gustainis gets you hooked in quickly and shows you what he can do. Quincey as a character is great, he's got depth and is instantly likable, although not your typical hero type. With no supernatural powers he relies on his knowledge and wits to get him through these situations, he's basically your regular guy with a good idea and experience in what he does. Libby Chastain is very similar, although as a white witch she does have the paranormal on her side. She's also one of those characters that I liked straight away, I found her easy to read and also with a nice depth to her. When a book is about a certain character or characters, like Black Magic Woman, it really helps to like them, something I believe Gustainis has managed remarkably well here.
All the elements of the story are also well plotted, integrated and executed. Everything feels right, there are no wildly unexpected plot twists, although that isn't to say there aren't any surprises in there. The way that the supernatural elements are handled are, at least from a newcomers point of view, easy to grasp and follow. There are no in depth examinations of everything we come across, and that suits the story and characters very well. I was a little on the hesitant side when it comes to these things, but Gustainis is very adept at letting the story tell itself rather than a pause every few pages to go into unnecessary explanation. The narrative flows and this made Black Magic Woman a very hard book to put down.
I was very pleased with Black Magic Woman and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The pages kept turning and every time I had to put the book down I was eager to get straight back to it. Even the fact the Black Magic Woman is set in a genre that I don't usually read will make no difference on me keeping up with this series. As long as Justin Gustainis keeps the characters as interesting and enjoyable as they were here I'll be very happy.