Saturday, July 31, 2010

Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Rachel Morgan is a witch, but she doesn't quite fit the image of witches as they want to be seen. For one thing, she's a scrapper, and while she's fought plenty of nasties in the past, but now she bears a demon mark and the only way to be rid of it, is to learn demon magic.

But she doesn't trust Al, the demon who has been teaching her, or trying to, and she's pretty sure that Pierce, the spirit of the witch who has been trying to help her learn the demon magic, is being played by Al as well. But even though her own motives only rise out of the best of intentions, the witches of the covens think she is already irreversably tainted by Demon magic and demon evil. They want to imprison her in Alcatraz- which is too far from the ley lines of the earth to be able to draw power from- either that, or to have herself magically neutered and rendered unable to bear children.

But when she's attacked by a white witch at a supermarket, she's barely able to overcome her, as the other woman is using a charm to bolster her magic. And to add insult to injury, after she gets home from the fight, she is summoned to the other side of the US as if she was no more than a demon, and taken straight to Alcatraz. But even Alcatraz isn't able to hold her for long, and when she finally gets out, she's even more determined to never, ever be imprisoned there again.

So, who gave the witches the information that allowed them to summon her? Rachel can guess that it's her old ex-boyfriend, Pierce. Or perhaps Trent Kalamak, the half-fey she knew from when she was just a girl. Rachel is determined to get her revenge on the man who betrayed her, even if she has to tie the bows on Pierce herself and send him to the Witches who want to imprison him as well. Or steal a precious elven artifact from Trent Kalamak's secure private vault- one that could seriously embarrass him and put an end to the bid for office he is making.

But one Rachel is good at is going off half-cocked to fight what she perceives as injustices, and in this case, her anger could lead to her making an equally bad or much worse mistake. Can Rachel get the witches council off her back, get her demon mark removed, and find which of the men in her orbit is actually the one who could end up making her happy? Rachel has to figure it out, and soon, or she could end up imprisoned again, or even worse, dead.

I like Kelly Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, and Rachel Morgan has a lot going for her. She rooms with a vampire, has all sorts of connections with all sorts of fae and otherworldly creatures, but as most of Kim Harrison's characters, her instincts with men can be, well, iffy at best, and she has trouble telling the bad boys but good guys from the bad boys who are just bad.

Another big concern for Rachel here is her demon mark and doing Demon magic. No matter how much taint she gets from the mark and doing demon magic, the witches already don't trust her. They think she is irreparably tainted, and Rachel has to show them that she isn't, and bring down those in the witches who won't let her prove that she is essentially untainted. By the end of the game, she's reached a new status quo, but one that may cause even more trouble for her in the future.

I enjoyed this book but not as much as some of her other books. Not because it was qualitatively worse, just different. I'd still recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance and urban fantasy, even though it is closer to urban fantasy than Paranormal Romance. Recommended.

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