Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Book Review: Evil Ways by Justin Gustainis
It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of reading a good occult-themed horror novel. Luckily my dry spell has been broken by Justin Gustainis’ Evil Ways, the second book in his Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigation series.
Quincey Morris and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain, are investigating a series of child murders where the victims’ organs are removed…while the children are still alive. These ritualistic murders are occurring throughout the country and obviously being perpetrated by an organized group of black magic practitioners. Equally troubling are the murders of many white witches throughout the United States.
It is obvious that those behind the ritualistic killings are extremely skilled in black magic and preparing to unleash hell on earth, unless Morris and Chastain, along with their allies, FBI agents Fenton and O’Connell and assassin Hannah Widmark, can stop them before they complete their ritual on Walpurgis Night.
Evil Ways is a quick read, made all the more enjoyable by Gustainis’ effective handle on prose, dialogue and characterizations. Gustainis wrote Evil Ways so that it stands on its own and you don’t have to have read the first novel in the series to grasp the characters’ relationships and motivations. The characters are fleshed out just enough for newbies, but not overly so where fans of Gustainis earlier work would feel like the information is repetitive. The writing style is quick and snappy, and filled with witty (and believable) dialogue between characters.
It is obvious that Gustainis did some pretty hefty occult research before writing the book. The novel is filled with spells, symbols, rituals, incantations that all operate under a certain set of rules (for example, white witches cannot harm anyone with their magic). Gustainis was extremely consistent with all the tenets of magic and because of this consistency made the novel that much more believable. It is hard to pull off a novel about witches, wizards and the occult without coming off as cheesy, but this is definitely one of the best fiction books I’ve read on the subject and was a definite joy to read. The spells cast and rituals performed got downright nasty (resurrecting victims as zombies and sending them to attack someone) and some were very inventive (conjuring a water sprite in the shower to attack some hit men).
I also enjoyed the wide variety of characters. There were many different storylines happening simultaneously to all the characters in the book that helped quicken the pace of the novel. Something was always happening to someone, whether it was the evil wizard Pardee preparing for Walpurgis Night, the white witches that were being hunted down, the hit men doing the witch hunting, investigators Fenton and O’Connell trying to get to the bottom of the child murders, badass assassin Hannah Widmark or the colorful Morris and resourceful Chastain. Even the characters that were only around for a chapter were well developed!
If you are looking for a fast-paced, intense, thrilling and fun book to read, look no further than Evil Ways. I am definitely going to keep my eye on Gustainis’ future novels and plan on going back to read Black Magic Woman!
Available from Amazon!