"That Old Black Magic," Michelle Rowen

Pros: Love to see Darrak dealing with his insecurities; fascinating demonic/celestial politicking
Cons: Still would like a little more depth to some of the villains
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group


Eden’s unwanted black magic has started to manifest itself without her conscious direction—a particularly dangerous development, since any use of her magic darkens her soul. Darrak, for his part, is turning into something other than a demon thanks to feeding off of Eden’s celestial energy—something half-light and half-dark. And Lucifer has big plans for Eden, plans that will put Darrak in terrible danger. To make matters worse, Eden’s father has come to earth, but he’s in the hands of Malleus, the group that wants to destroy all supernatural beings. Their plans for him don’t really fall in line with that ostensibly noble goal. The machinations pile up one on top of the other, and somehow Eden and Darrak have to avoid being crushed between them…


Michelle Rowen’s That Old Black Magic (A Living in Eden Novel) is a great follow-on to The Demon in Me and Something Wicked. Each book in the series has been a bit better than the last. This time the focus is more on Darrak and his insecurities as he faces the possibility that Eden might well find a way to undo his curse—meaning that he won’t possess her any more. And at that point, he fears, she won’t want to have anything to do with him any more. He realizes he’s fallen in love with her, but it also seems clear that his feelings aren’t fully returned. He certainly can’t go back to Hell—what will he do if he can’t be with Eden? There’s something fantastic about seeing a demon go through these feelings; it’s very contrary to literary stereotype, and yet it makes a lot of sense for the character.

Lucifer is still one of my favorite characters; he has a surprising depth to him. Eden is still growing, as well, which I appreciate. Again, however, I find Malleus to be more one-dimensional than I’d like. Given that the organization at least still pretends to be the good guys, it’s a bit ridiculous how many of the characters are blatant one-dimensional bad guys.

I love the celestial and demonic politicking going on. There’s some fascinating backstory that comes to light, and some great views on Lucifer’s role in the universe. As usual there’s some great humor, some wonderful drama, and a good balance between camp and story. The magic-as-addiction thing is a little old (it felt a little overdone even when Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it back in the day), but it is handled very well, and Rowen makes it easy to comprehend. This volume provides a satisfying wrap-up for the three-book arc so far, but leaves room for plenty of future stories—which I do hope Rowen plans to write!

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