PROS: Well-rounded and evolving characters; deftly designed urban fantasy landscape; appeals to a wide audience.
CONS: Rachel’s second-guessing led to some frustration; the plot may move a bit slowly for some.
BOTTOM LINE: A very enjoyable reading experience overall.
Whether she is swapping summoning names with a demon, or swapping spit with a living vampire, Rachel Morgan finds trouble like others find quicksand. Every new Hollows book lands her in ever deeper predicaments with ever more dark and dangerous challenges to overcome. Working through very dark and very adult situations, Morgan must live with the metaphysical smut that comes with dabbling in the gift of Black Magic as well as with the inner moral conflicts that arise as she realizes her potential as both a witch and a demon. Instead of focusing heavily on the monsters and the plot and the mysteries faced in each novel, Kim Harrison pens a story that delves into the mystery that is Rachel Morgan.
Kim Harrison names her Hollows books after Clint Eastwood movies and one wonders if we’re not getting a dose of an overly sensitive Dirty Harry here in Rachel Morgan. Black Magic Sanction expands on Ms. Morgan’s relationship with the demon world, a realm that underpins the reality of the Hollows, and the battle with the coven that occurs due to her ever more damaged standing within the witch community. It is a situation that often leaves her conflicted and second-guessing, sometimes to the frustration of the reader. As her demon mentor tells her in Black Magic Sanction: “find a way for your lofty, unrealistic ideals to deal with it.” The plot may move a bit slowly for some, who prefer a bit more action, but it’s the well-rounded, intimate and evolving nature of the characters and sub-plots that make these books appeal to a broader audience with an addictiveness that has placed Kim Harrison on the bestseller lists.
Fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or Laurel Hamilton’s Anita Blake series will most surely enjoy Kim Harrison’s take on the urban fantasy genre, and Black Magic Sanction is no exception. Harrison weaves her spell with a swath of strong, well developed characters and a dark, yet deftly designed urban fantasy landscape. The end result for the reader is a brilliant time and perhaps a touch of smut on our souls.