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Black Magic Sanction (Rachel Morgan) by Kim Harrison
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eos Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061138034
Date: 01 March 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Rachel Morgan has been having difficulties ever since she was shunned by the coven of moral and ethical standards. She can't shop in any witch owned store and her friends and associates are being pressured by the coven to stop hiring her. Jobs are harder to get. Her mother had to move to another state to avoid the stigma that was cutting into her business. So with little left to do she takes the odd job, works on her magic, and does her regular study with the demon Algaliarept or Al. But all that changes when the coven decides to take her prisoner themselves. They may be using white magic but it sure is deadly and Rachel finds herself scrambling to find a way a way to get out of the shunning.

More by Kim Harrison
Dead Witch Walking
Every Which Way But Dead
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
A Fistful of Charms
For a Few Demons More
White Witch, Black Curse
Black Magic Sanction

Dates From Hell (anthology with other authors)

We've been building to this story for several books now. Each time Rachel took on herself some black in order to save a life, she's fallen a bit further out of the good graces of the coven. While Rachel has never done a single evil deed, she has done some demon magic in the service of saving lives. The coven sees all demon magic as being evil and black no matter what the result or the fact that no one but the caster was harmed. On the other hand the first battle with a coven member put this reader in doubt about just how moral or ethical the coven of moral and ethical standards really was. We'd received hints of this when Gordian Pierce showed up and we got some bits and pieces of his story.

As usual the action begins immediately and rises and ebbs throughout the book. Many characters we haven't seen for a while are back such as Nick and Jax. If you've read the series up until now you probably know that Nick showing up means trouble and you wouldn't be wrong. Then there's Trent Kalamack continuing his efforts to control Rachel, partly by not allowing her to speak to Ceri.

This time things look bad for a Rachel. The coven is willing to do just about anything to get her under their control. She's the only living person who survived Rosewood Syndrome and they have plans for her -- if she can be made compliant.

Rachel is not just fighting for her life, she's fighting to be who she is with all her faculties intact. She's fighting for her soul. Along the way she learns that she has to accept help from her friends. She doesn't want them to suffer for her decisions, but they refuse to step back to safety. This brings us to some of the saddest and most heart-wrenching scenes in the book. Okay, I admit I cried like a baby over some of the scenes.

To me, a sign of a good writer is that you get involved with the novel and take pleasure in the story as it unfolds. The sign of a great writer is one that can touch you emotionally -- make you laugh, make you cry, and most of all make you think. If you can read through Black Magic Sanction and not shed a tear, not laugh out loud in places, and not begin to wonder what is right, what is wrong, and what is ethical behavior, and can it be defined clearly for all circumstances, well, then maybe Kim Harrison just isn't the author for you. For me, these books don't just entertain, they make me think about the world I live in, in ways I might not have before.

It's on the bookshelves now in your local store -- go pick up a copy.

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