Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Honourable Mentions: Black Magic Woman

Author: Justin Gustainis

First Published: 2007

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Supernatural 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 – and the very heart of darkness.

The Mention: This is a cornucopia supernatural novel, pulling in various entities as we look at the investigations of Quincey Morris. Obviously, by the blurb, the main thrust is witchcraft. However there are some vampiric aspects that made this worth mentioning on the blog.

The most obvious is the investigator himself. Quincey Morris was, of course, the Texan character in Dracula. This is not the Quincey Morris, however, but Quincey Harker Morris – descendant of the venerable original. Due to the original’s exploits the family, over the ensuing generations, have been drawn into the battle against the supernatural.

You might be asking how Quincey ended up with a descendant? This is answered in a re-written extract from Dracula within this novel. In this world-view Morris, before travelling to England, had been married. His wife tragically died in childbirth but the son survived and was with Morris’ parents – hence him being free to ask Lucy Westenra to marry him.

When we first meet Morris, in this novel, he is in a Texas town that has been infested by vampires. The survivors are awaiting Jack and his crew. Morris explains that this Jack is stuck in Waco, with a major infestation, and so sent Morris instead. I liked this. I wondered, firstly, if Morris referred to Jack Crow from Vampires. This was underlined by the fact that the infestation started with a master and the novel is referential to other movies/novels (Amityville Horror and the Exorcist, for starters). The idea that Waco might have been a cover-up of a vampire infestation – as Gustainis seems to imply – also tickled me.

After this we get no further vampiric involvement (other than a suggestion that this Morris had been to Dracula’s castle). The book has some minor issues, for instance Morris and Chastain seem to need to explain aspects of the supernatural to each other – as though they wouldn’t be aware of certain spheres of the occult. I didn’t buy that necessarily, and obviously this was more for the reader. Perhaps there might have been a better way of introducing some of the concepts.

Also, I felt that I wanted more depth to Morris himself – but as the first of a series I’m sure that depth will come.

However, the problems mentioned are only minor. The bottom line was that this was an enjoyable read and I will, most definitely, be looking out for number 2 in the series.


Derek said...

Sorry to be off-topic, but if you haven't seen it and are interested, here is a look at the new Wolfman:,,20185191,00.html

Me, I love the way they updated the classic look instead of the "Howling" look that has been used for years.

As an aside, I am glad to read this book review...I had been waffling on getting it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers for that Derek. Actually looks really cool.