Shelley's Reviews > Black Magic Woman

Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis
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's review
Jul 01, 2011

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bookshelves: 2008-release, demons, dark-fantasy
Read from July 24 to 25, 2011

*Rating* Still debating between 3, 3 1/2 and 4 stars.
*Genre* Dark Fantasy


Black Magic Woman is the first book in the Quincey Morris series by Justin Gustainis. Even though the story is clearly supposed to be about Morris and his white witch friend and partner Elizabeth “Libby” Chastian, Gustainis ends up folding two separate stories into one bringing in several other characters that have their own investigation to deal with.

Morris is an occult investigator and private contractor who, when we first meet his character, takes on a colony of vampires in Lindell, Texas at the behest of another vampire hunter named Jack. Morris’s great-grandfather Quincey Morris, was part of the crew that chased down Dracula and helped slay him at the cost of his own life.

*Every time I read the name Jack in association with vampires, I think of James Woods in Vampires. He played a vampire hunter, who like this Jack, has found himself in a pond full of crocodiles with no way out.

Morris calls himself an interventionist and consultant of the supernatural. Morris is approached by the LaRue family asking for his help in saving his family from what he believes to be Poltergeists. Morris, upon visiting the house, immediately calls on Chastian to help him with the case and rules out ghosts entirely. No, it's much worse and alot more dangerous.

Chastian is a white witch who also debunks fake claims of spiritualists for the Society of the Advancement of Rational Thought. She ends up revealing the outrageous lies behind a fake preacher and his overbearing wife in front of an audience that is not only shocked, but appalled at his deception.

Chastian and Morris have worked other cases before, but this case may be their most challenging yet. Chastian realizes that the LaRue family has been targeted by a black witch, and after further investigation, it is learned that they are the descendants of an accuser during the Salem Witch Trials.

Gustainis takes the reader on a brief sojourn to 1692 Salem, Massachusetts and the Salem witch trials. The place where the conflict started between the two families after one accused the other of practicing black magic. I would have loved to see how this progressed further over the years, instead of delving into other areas, but I’m just a reader, not the writer.

We are then introduced to one of the more interesting characters of this book named Detective Sergeant Garth Van Dreenan. Van Dreenan is an agent of the Occult Crimes Unit from South Africa. He is a hunter and a specialist of the occult. He comes to the US as part of an FBI investigation into the murder of children. Van Dreenan, it seems, has been chasing the witch who is responsible for the children's murders. He also has a personal vendentta against her as well.

This book contains some dark moments, and probably should be considered a dark fantasy novel. There are children being gutted for their body parts. There’s even a part where Chastian is nearly raped by an incubus/succubus demon and Morris is nearly lured into being taken as well. Morris later has to find a way to deal with his phobia of poisonous snakes before ending up bitten, while Chastian fights for her life after the black witch makes it her mission in life to kill them both.

There are vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, a voodoo queen, white and dark witches, as well as a behind the scenes power grab by an unknown power broker who is looking forward to the Great Cleansing. I guess we will need to read the next book in the series to find out more about Walter Grobius.

I find myself struggling to rate this book because I truly believe that it would have been better to have combined Morris/Chastian with Van Dreenan and his FBI partner Dale Fenton to stop the madness and the villains from killing the children. They do cross, however briefly, and it ends up with Van Dreenan exacting some revenge on a witch named Mbwato who killed his only daughter.

There’s no romance to speak of between the main two characters Morris and Chastian but they do have feelings of trust and friendship. They’ve worked together before and are comfortable doing so. But, at a certain point in the story, Morris feels almost giddy learning a secret about Chastain’s sex life after she is nearly raped by a demon. He can't let it go either which truly annoyed the hell out of me.

Gustainis also does a sort of shout out to occult classics like the Amityville Horror, and the Exorcist when introducing Quincy Morris and the cases he has worked in the past. He takes the reader from Texas, to Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, New York City, before finally ending it all in Salem.

I will have to see how this series plays out when I pick up the next book Evil Ways, but I truly want to see more of the Chastian next time around.

Justin Gustainis
Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigation
1. Black Magic Woman (2007)
2. Evil Ways (2008)
3. Sympathy for the Devil (2009)
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