Justin Gustainis,
Black Magic Woman
(Solaris, 2008)

Few new authors can pull off multiple points of view with interwoven plotlines, but Justin Gustainis does a stellar job of creating a widely varied cast from both the good and bad guys with unique voices and stories to tell.

Black Magic Woman begins when a curse is laid upon a family for testimony against them during the Salem Witch Trials. The witness realizes she's got trouble when the surviving 8-year-old daughter of the woman she's sent to the gallows makes the sign of black magic curse at her as she's being taken away.

That curse continues on to the present day, with a family being attacked magically. Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain are called in to help.

Next, we have a South African police officer, Van Drennan, arriving in the U.S. He's here at the request of the FBI Behavioral Unit, which is tracking a serial killer of children in a case that seems to be related to South African black magic rituals. What the FBI doesn't know is that Van Drennan's daughter died in a "muti" killing as well.

Both these stories intertwine in an interesting fashion. Gustainis has a knack for keeping the action going. In addition, he supplies well-educated cultural details that make the narrative informative as well as riveting.

If you're a fan of dark urban fantasy sharing a close border with horror, you're going to enjoy Black Magic Woman. Gustainis is a strong entry into the fantasy field and I'm hoping to hear more from him very soon.

review by
Becky Kyle

5 April 2008

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