Black Magic (Black Records Book 1), by Mark Feenstra
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Alex Black is a mage who, while capable of things that would impress an ordinary person, isn’t particularly powerful among her own kind. She does a bit of consulting work, but it’s hard to find jobs when you’re part of a secretive subset of the population. When she’s hired to find a magical murderer, she might have taken on a job that’s too much for her to handle.
Set in Vancouver, it was refreshing to read something set in Canada. The idea that fae (a term given to all magical creatures) live among us in not-small numbers is fun. Seeing how Alex interacts with them, and mundane humans, acting like a bridge between worlds adds to the complexity of her character. The pacing was excellent, with plenty of drama and action to keep my head in the story.
My only quibble (and it’s a small one) was that the magic seemed uneven. At the start of the book, a big deal is made of using magic. It has some unpleasant aftereffects, and can’t be used for long without draining the mage. Replenishing magical energy is not trivial for Alex, taking a very long time to re-energize without aids. She spends much of the book tired or even exhausted, yet continues to cast spells. By the end of the book, she’s casting quite a few more spells, and holding them for longer periods of time. Given that it was stated earlier in the book that it takes a great deal of studying to improve your control over magic, it felt like she was gaining strength at an unnaturally quick pace. Also, I can’t figure out why mages would use wards if they’re so easy to disable. Or maybe Alex is just very good at that sort of magic.
Either way, the plot of the book was good, with a few surprises along the way. The characters were entertaining, with almost everyone you meet having a deeper background that unfolds over the course of the story.
I liked the eventual pairing of the two characters who work together at the end. While Alex says she couldn’t have succeeded without her partner, if you reverse the camera, there’s no way in hell he could have dealt with the problems. Non-magic people just aren’t a threat to mages at all. But her partner isn’t useless, either. It’s nice to see two characters who both have their virtues, instead of having one come off as useless while the other saves the day.
I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for something fun to read, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series!