Title: Black Magic
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 90k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Multiple Romances, Magic, Royalty
Rating: LOVE it!
When High Paladin Sorin discovers the brutally dismembered body of his cousin Alfrey, a much loved priest in the royal palace, he is left baffled as to who would do so terrible a thing to so good a man. But to find the answer to that question, he must cooperate with one of the highly despised necromancers, men who practice black magic, sleep in graveyards and feed upon souls…
The necromancer Koray, however, is far from what he expected. He is beautiful, stubborn, and possessed of a tongue sharp enough to cut down even the High Paladin himself. Koray is also possessed of a strength like nothing Sorin has ever encountered, and the power of the Goddess herself.
It does not take them long to realize that solving a murder is the easiest challenge they must face, and in order to save a kingdom they must first unravel centuries of lies and misunderstandings.
I get so excited when a novel by Megan Derr is released, and even though I love when it is part of a series that I already enjoy, every now and then there is one like this, that is part of a new series or a standalone. I love those the most because the part of Megan Derr’s novels that are so exciting to me are the world building, and this novel doesn’t disappoint on that count. I can only hope that she’ll continue in this world too, but then if she doesn’t, I know there will be other books to enjoy
The key to the first part of this story is in the last paragraph in the blurb — and pay attention — “solving a murder is the easiest challenge they face.” Readers who aren’t as familiar with Megan Derr’s work as some might not expect the format and romance in this novel and it might come as a surprise. So in order that you won’t be surprised and maybe turned off, not only is this a novel in three parts, but it is also a novel with three romances (though only two of the romances are narrated, the third are other characters, which while important to the story, are less present than the others). The first third of the story is what the blurb talks about and the murder mystery. So I think, in this case, it’s pretty important that you pay attention to that line in the blurb that says they find it pretty easy to figure out the culprit (because it is) and that the rest of the book is what is difficult for them.
That mystery is really the setup to the big story, and in a way this works like a series all in one novel. I liked that we were able to read it all together though, and it really brings out the world to be able to see different aspects of it all at once. The different parts introduce new types of magical users to us, all of which bring the world to the place it should be.
The basis of the story is a court of equal parts royalty, warriors and priests. The warriors are called paladins (led by High Paladin Sorin) and use a type of Goddess magic that allows them to fight demons — once people who used dark magic and turned into thoughtless, remorseless killers intent on draining the souls from people. Then there are the priests, who commune with the Goddess and use healing magic. In the first part of the novel, Sorin finds the brutally dismembered body of his best friend and cousin Alfrey (a priest) in his locked room in the royal palace. The answers are few and in consultation with the high priest, Sorin receives a message from the Goddess that he will need the help of another practitioner of magic, something that the High Priest felt might be some kind of dark magic. Sorin has to continually change his worldview when he meets Koray, a necromancer, because even though he knows that they’re evil and one step away from becoming demons, the Goddess tells him that Koray is the one he’s meant to deal with. Only the things that he knows about necromancers don’t seem to be true. Not only will they have a difficult time finding the culprit and dealing with them, but they’ll have an even bigger trouble convincing the rest of the people to open their minds, not just about necromancers, but maybe the way they’ve been dealing with demons as well.
This is right in line with all of the other books by Derr that I’ve loved so much. They’re such easy reads, easy to get into and I always enjoy the characters. Derr fans will really like this one, and of course like always, I always want other readers who aren’t familiar with her work to read it. Definitely Recommended!