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Black Magic Woman [Paperback]

Justin Gustainis
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 29 2008 Morris and Chastain Supernatural Investigations
This book is the start of an electrifying new series following an occult investigator and his white witch consultant as they root out the supernatural in the dark corners of the USA.

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"Dennis Wheatley meets Kim Newman! Voodoo and Muti and old Salem witches! Shout outs to Jack Crow and Harry D'Amour! I loved it!Justin is a first class writer; he's smart and he's fun, he moves quickly and he takes corners at speed. Every time you think you know where he's going, he makes a point of going somewhere else. His characters are sharp and vivid, his dialogue crackles with wit and tension, and when it comes to the scarier corners of the magical underworld, he knows his stuff.This is a novel that's packed with story and engaging characters and I can't wait to read the next one. "--Simon R. Green, author of the ""Nightside"" series

About the Author

Justin Gustainis is a college professor living in upstate New York. He is the author of the novel The Hades Project (2003), as well as a number of short stories. In his misspent youth, Mr. Gustainis was, at various times, a busboy, soldier, speechwriter and professional bodyguard. To balance his karma, he and his wife collect teddy bears.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Series of Hallucinogenic Events Jan. 6 2008
Ever read a book where the protag doesn’t really interest you, but everyone else does? That was the situation for me with this novel: our protag is Quincey Morris, an occult investigator who’s a descendant of the Quincey Morris from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That gimmick put me off, but Quincey’s partner in crime, white witch Libby Chastain, is very interesting. Less Quincey and more Libby, Mr Gustainis, please! Some scenes seem unnecessary, and others seem like short stories more than part of a novel, but keep reading. The main reason to continue is the subject of muti killings, something I hadn’t heard of before. An important character whom I rather like is Garth Van Dreenan from the South African Police’s Occult Crime Unit. I just happen to love the South African accent, so of course I was going to like the man. A character I particularly didn’t like is Snake Perkins, a bigot who thinks of his partner-in-crime as…an N-word. Only the N-word is actually written, which made me really uncomfortable. I can handle murderers and such in fiction, but a racist? That’s just too much for me. I would’ve liked to learn more about Project Violet (Scotland Yard’s unit investigating witchcraft crime), and an incubus unlike any other I’ve come across before in fiction. And keep an eye out for what I call “A Series of Hallucinogenic Events”. I would’ve edited out some scenes, but this is still a great read, and we can all look forward to more from this author.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, looks to be the start of a great series. Feb. 27 2008
By C. Good - Published on
_Black Magic Woman_ by Justin Gustainis is one of the best contemporary fantasy novels I have read in a long time. It has great pacing, characters and plot.

The book starts out fast, with the prologue taking place at the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials in 1692. From there we move to the present day, where our two main characters -- Quincey Morris and Elizabeth "Libby" Chastain -- are each running their own private supernatural consultant businesses. Quincey specializes in dealing with supernatural problems like demons, vampires, or angry ghosts. Libby is a white witch who focuses on magical issues and misuse or misrepresentation of mystical powers such as black magic, fake mediums and fraudulent preachers. They are good friends who have worked on cases together before, and this time it is Quincey who needs Libby's help defeating the curse placed on a family.

There were A LOT of things I liked about _Black Magic Woman_:
- Quincey and Libby are great characters. Both are interesting, have their own personalities and backstories, and their interactions are pleasant to read as well.
- Even though there are a lot of secondary characters and a lot of subplots, it doesn't get confusing or boring, and everything is tied together at the end.
- A lot of passing references to classic horror movies and novels. It's fun to see how Gustainis weaves these into the story.
- References to current-day events, such as politics at the FBI, or some of the more intractable problems in post-Apartheid South Africa.
- Gustainis did a lot of research on his subjects. In particular, lynch mobs attacking suspected sorcerers in Africa and "necklacing" them is something that really happens, and it was obvious Gustainis did a lot of background study before writing this book. At the same time, Gustainis has a light hand with his material and his writing never becomes boring or pretentious.
- In particular, _Black Magic Woman_ stands out from a lot of recent dark urban fantasy in its treatment of gore and Christianity. Some authors in this genre have a tendency to spend A LOT of text on torture and pain, and treat Christianity as being either judgmental and overly rigid or hollow and materialistic. While _Black Magic Woman_ is definitely a crime thriller and a lot of ugly things happen during the book, Gustainis does NOT make the reader wade through pages and pages of blood and horror and bad guys lovingly describing their sadism. Also, the treatment of Christians, Christianity and Christian mysticism was very even-handed.
- There are a lot of great story lines and great secondary characters which would all make interesting books in themselves. Do Quincey and Libby ever run into Barry Love in New York again? Does Fenton ever get sucked into more odd cases? Do we ever get to see Van Dreenan again?

Regarding things I didn't like about _Black Magic Woman_ -- there wasn't much. I think one escape where our protagonists FLEW was a bit far-fetched, but that's the only major complaint I have.

I am looking forward to the next book, and definitely consider this one to be a five-star read.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm adding Justin Gustainis to my list of favorite authors March 15 2008
By R. Kyle - Published on
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 in against them in 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 US. He's here at the request of the FBI Behavioral Unit. They're tracking a serial killer of children, which 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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It'll cast a spell on you! Feb. 2 2008
By Rachel Caine - Published on
This is one heck of a book -- a take-no-prisoners great debut for Quincey and Libby, and I'm absolutely hooked. Dark and uncompromising, Gustainis's approach is one that combines noir, urban fantasy, and mainstream crime fiction into an absolutely bewitching brew.

This isn't a fluffy read. It's got serious violence. It's got serious villains. But if you're looking for a great urban fantasy adventure, you can't go wrong with BLACK MAGIC WOMAN.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new novel in the urban fantasy genera Feb. 17 2008
By Jacquelyn Bowser - Published on
I read alot of urban fantasy and about half of it lately has been fluff, but Gustainis is now on my list of "waiting for the next one to be published".
The main character, Quincey Morris, is basically a consultant who is called in to help solve all types of supernatural problems. The book begins with him helping a small town to dispose of their vampire problem and goes from there to what appears initially to be a home plagued by a poltergiest.
What I like most about this main character is that he is basically a normal person with alot of knowledge, experience, and the basic good sense to call in other professionals to give him a hand when things get dicey. There are several sub-plots involving other people that initially seem to have no connection, but are woven in well by the time the end of the book is reached. There are lots of details about people's lives that are just touched upon and leave you intrigued and wanting to learn more.
Good thing there's another book coming. It's a shame we'll have to wait.
If you like Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden then you'll certainly enjoy this read. (I could see Quincey calling Harry in for some back-up on his next case.)
I inhaled this book in one day and eagerly await the next.
Good job Mr. Gustainis.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Start to a new series Jan. 31 2008
By Katya - Published on
I am addicted to urban fantasy/detective stories along the lines of the Dresden Files or the Nightside series so I rushed out to pick this up as soon as I heard about it.
This book has great pacing ( I devoured it in 2 days) and just enough subtle character development to leave the reader curious about the characters and the world they inhabit, and wanting the next entry in the series. You get to know Morris and Libby enough to want to hear more, but not so much thatthere isn't room for the characters to grow. I also love the little inside references the author makes to other supernatural books and movies a nice touch for readers of this genre.

I hope the author is a fast writer because I can't wait for his next entry!
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