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Black Magic Sanction
by Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #8
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Dates from Hell, Pale Demon, Unbound, Something Deadly This Way Comes, The Good, the Bad, and the Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fistful of Charms, For a Few Demons More, The Outlaw Demon Wails, White Witch, Black Curse, A Perfect Blood, "Pet Shop Boys", "Trouble on Reserve", Into the Woods, Holidays are Hell, Ever After, The Drafter, "Waylaid", The Operator, The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death.
Eighth in the Hollows or the Rachel Morgan urban fantasy series revolving around the Vampiric Charms Agency consisting of Rachel, Ivy Underwood, and Jenks.
In 2010, Black Magic Sanction was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Paranormal Fantasy.
It’s a tricky in and out twisting through this story as Rachel desperately attempts to figure out how to get the coven off her case and lift the shunning.
Rachel can be such an idiot at times…look at how she forgot what she was doing at Big Al’s! Although, she does gain some interesting concessions from Al and the coven. I think this is where we begin to discover that Rachel likes Trent…as in like-like. Her relationship with Pierce also undergoes a sea change.
Big Al has set Rachel up with this latest spell and Pierce takes advantage of it, talking Newt into sending him back to Earth as Rachel’s backup. Of course, Newt was doing her own bit of setting Al up. A betrayal that is reflected in the mortal world with the coven of moral and ethical standards as they pursue Rachel with illegal intent. The treatment to which they subject Rachel spurs her on to forcing Big Al to swap summoning names with him for Rachel refuses to take any more chances on the coven’s idea of restraint: lobotomies, sterilization, and lifelong imprisonment. Of course there’s the “freedom” of becoming a brood mare for the coven…
It all prompts Rachel to come up with a bizarre plan to get both Trent and the coven off her back. All it takes is trusting Nick, stealing an artifact, and giving it back very publicly while ensuring the media hears all about it.
Quite the hunting experience.
Rachel Morgan has been getting in so much trouble with the coven and the accusations of her dealing with demons. Ivy is a living vampire and plays a role in the background this time while Jenks is a pixy and is somewhere in between in this story. Although the whole pixy family does have some major action. Matalina is Jenks’ wife. Rex is Jenks’ cat who only recently decided to accept Rachel. Bis, the teenage gargoyle who lives with them, discovers some new powers.
Gordian Nathaniel Pierce is the coven ghost buried alive who has been following Rachel for some time. Al found him a body, Tom Bansen’s to be accurate and now he’s Big Al’s familiar. Algaliarept, “Big Al”, is a demon who has been after Rachel since the beginning. Treble is Al’s gargoyle ordered to teach Bis. Newt is the crazy, nutcase demon who rules over all the others and would love to get her own hands on Rachel. Krathion is a crazed demon soul whom Newt slipped to Al. Nick Sparagamos is a lying thief who uses everyone around him; he really digs himself a hole in this one. Sidereal is the leader of the attacking fairies.
Trent Kalamack is an elf, a drug lord, a billionaire, and now he’s running for mayor in Cincinnati. He’s also constantly trying to force Rachel to work for him exclusively; it certainly doesn’t help that Rachel owns Trent as a familiar. Their adversarial relationship has been in place since they were children. Mr. T is his horse with an interesting secret. Ceri is a 1000s-of-years-old elf whom Rachel rescued from imprisonment as a familiar for Big Al and now she helps Rachel with the curses she needs. Quen is in charge of Trent’s security and is Ceri’s lover, the father of her child. Jonathan also works for Trent and he hates Rachel. Stanley Saladan is another of Trent’s dad’s successes in reversing the Rosewood syndrome; Trent, Rachel, and Lee were at the same children’s camp. He managed to escape Big Al’s service and actually comes in useful here.
Detective Glenn is having it off with Ivy; he’s also Captain Edden‘s son (both are with the FIB). David is the alpha of the pack to which Rachel belongs and makes his appearance primarily through references by other characters. Rynn Cormel also plays offstage and very sub rosa refusing to help Rachel and holding Ivy back. Those belonging to the so-self-righteous coven of moral and ethical standards include Vivian with her white curses that are destroying people; Brooke; Oliver; Amanda; and, Wyatt.
Federal Inderland Bureau (FIB) is the human policing agency. Inderland Security (I.S.) is the supernatural policing group.
The Cover and Title
The black, white, and royal blue of the cover really pops the red of the title. It showcases a Rachel wearing a low-cut, cropped black tank top with hip hugger jeans with a studded bicep brace and chainlink belt as she holds an extremely sharp blade. Rachel is in a watching stance next to an angry, red-eyed Bis perched atop the church steeple, a full moon shining behind them.
The title refers to Rachel’s trouble with the coven and the order of shunning, a Black Magic Sanction.