The detective/noir/occult tale continues! Volume 1 introduced the reader to Rowan Black, Portsmouth Police detective who is also a witch. She has a good relationship with her work partner Morgan and with her friend (lover?) Alexandra Grey, who is also a witch. These relationships are in peril, however, as a series of crimes shows that dark forces are at work, and they are targeting Rowan. The first installment ends with a shadowy group of technologically savvy investigators tracking down Rowan. We cannot yet guess who they are or what their intentions are regarding Rowan.
Volume 2 opens with a flashback to Rowan’s 13th birthday, an important event in the life of a young witch. Her mother and grandmother have not only provided the requisite party with classmates, but have also been preparing for Rowan’s Awakening. This is a Wiccan ritual in which the subject learns about all of her past lives. As much as Rowan greets this event with great anticipation, she cannot be prepared for what she will see this night. Witches’ lives tend to end in violent and traumatic ways, and the Black family is no exception. In fact, the Black family are known for being especially powerful and thus ruthlessly hunted witches. This evening’s revelations as well as a family tragedy will shape Rowan as an adult.
In “real time,” Rowan and Morgan continue to investigate the strange death of a criminal many were only too glad to find dead. In Volume 1, seeing traces of magick at the crime scene, Rowan had pilfered a piece of evidence to give to Alex so that she could try to read it for clues as to use of magick. Some on the force, including her superior, seem a little suspicious of Rowan, but Morgan defends her. We see now, though, that he is concerned as well and thinks that Rowan is hiding something from him. Matters come to a head after an altercation with an armed man who yells strange things at Rowan before trying to kill her. She fires back and kills him, clearly in self defense. But what was he talking about?
Meanwhile, the shadowy group, known as Aira, have tracked down Rowan and her home. We learn that Aira is a group with a long history of hunting and killing witches. They came up in Rowan’s Awakening, and Alex has figured out that they are somehow going to be involved with whatever dark forces have been at work in Portsmouth. The dark forces, shown at work in Volume 2, are pure evil, and they are trying to kill Alex. But is it possible that Alex and Rowan could work with Aira for this case? Why is Rowan and the Black family so well known, and what is the true nature of Rowan’s power? I’m looking forward to finding out in subsequent volumes.
The artwork by Nicola Scott is, as in Volume 1, superb. She uses a predominantly black, white and gray color palette except when magick is in use. Then the color explodes forth in greens, yellows, and flaming pinks and reds. I also am impressed with the individuality of the characters she draws. Scott is able to show how Rowan, her mother and her grandmother look like they come from the same family without looking exactly alike. The detail in home decor and outside scenes is beautifully drawn as well. Rucka’s story writing continues to keep the reader engaged. He is able to go back and forth in time and between story lines seamlessly, always moving the action forward. And he added in a familiar for Rowan — a talking black cat. Keep your eye on that one! Again, I would recommend Black Magick for fans of noir, detective stories, and the supernatural.