Charlaine Harris, author of the Southern Vampire series, said, “I wouldn’t miss a Kim Harrison book for anything.” Harrison is adept at weaving a believable alternate history world where the characters just happen to be witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies, and elves living amongst us in an ordinary suburb much like any other.
Harrison’s world development and character development continue to impress in Black Magic Sanction. Harrison explains more of the connection between the real world and the Ever After. Main character, the bounty hunter witch Rachel Morgan, finds herself coming to terms with her demon mentor, Al. While she still grieves the loss of her love, the twice-dead vampire Kisten, she evaluates whether or not she is ready or capable of trusting and loving again.
The pace starts off fast and furious and continues straight up through the end. If you were hoping that Rachel may just finally catch a break, this may not be the book for you. She finds herself in a showdown with The Coven, the governing body of witches who shunned her for practicing black magic. Though they are technically committed to practicing only white magic, their means make them no less dangerous. Because of her abilities and her relationship to demons, The Coven attempt to lock her away in the newly renovated witch prison of Alcatraz, guarded by violent guards who feed the inmates food that is drugged, threatening a lobotomy if she does not get in line.
“I jerked back, but her fingers brushed mine. A twinge of ley-line energy threatened to equalize between us, strong and tingly. Hand pressed to my chest, I stared, shocked. She had a whopping big chunk of ever-after energy in her chi. Tons more than the average person could hold. Who in hell is this woman?“
There are several subplots at play throughout the book. Politically powerful Trent Kalamack makes his appearance in the book, still resenting his relationship to Rachel as her familiar, regardless of the fact that she has never acted upon the bond. He is torn between wanting to kill her and wanting to own her servitude. Former ghost, once Coven member, and current demon familiar Pierce is heavily featured in this book, and her thief ex-boyfriend Nick makes an appearance as well. As always, her best friends are there for her when she needs them most, and her friendship with her pixie partner Jenks deepens to a new level. As has become a theme throughout the series, this book signifies one more step along the path of Rachel’s evolution and journey.
For those fans who have followed the first seven books of the series, beginning with Dead Witch Walking, this one is a must-have. Black Magic Sanction begins a new story ARC for main character Rachel Morgan. We see her grow a bit and come into her own, accepting that even though she has smut on her aura and can kindle demon magic, she is the one who is control of her own decisions. She has known love and loss and has escaped death more times than one would have ever thought possible, and yet she is still standing on her own two feet, a little wiser and perhaps stronger because of all that she has been through.
Kim Harrison is also the author of the young adult fantasy, Once Dead, Twice Shy. She writes two separate fantasy series under her real name, Dawn Cook.