Gail Z. Martin aka Morgan Brice continues to be one of those authors whose work excites me to distraction. Among the plethora of titles she has written, she is also responsible for her universe of the paranormal, which includes such series titles as (writing as Gail Z. Martin) “Deadly Curiosities,” “Spells, Salt, & Steel,” and “Night Vigil.” Writing as Morgan Brice we have “Treasure Trail,” “Kings Of The Mountain,” and “Fox Hollow.” Each of these series has its unique charm and tone making them wildly fun to read. They can also be quite thrilling and suspenseful as has been her “Witchbane” series, and with her latest novel of the series The Devil You Know she digs into one of the most intimate and personal parts of the human psyche, that being grief and loss.
Our heroes are Seth Tanner and Evan Malone. Seth’s younger brother Jesse was killed as part of a century-long series of murders, and not long after that, his parents were killed in a car accident. He took it upon himself to track down all of the men (witches) responsible for Jesse’s death in the hope of saving the lives of these witches’ potential victims. He rescued Evan from such a fate and in turn, they quickly became not only partners in this crusade, but they also fell in love with each other.
Brice’s latest The Devil You Know delivers a surprise by having Seth face his loss. To make it worse, it was done in a manner that was quite heartbreaking to read. The way this was done is not entirely unfamiliar, but Brice wrote Seth’s emotional journey in a way that hit me very hard. I dare say that anyone who has ever experienced a significant loss of a loved one might find Seth’s part of this story to be extremely resonant. Even before his arc is finished in this book there are telltale signs that when Seth comes out on the other side that he might be quite shattered by the experience.
Seth’s journey isn’t all that makes up this book. One of Brice’s greatest strengths in her books is the universe building that takes place and she does that through the introduction of new characters, and this happens here in such a delightfully enjoyable way. While our heroes are still relatively new (less than a year in their time) in their quest they are introduced to characters that are not only greatly more experienced, they’re also brought in with their unique skills and strengths making them extremely interesting to learn more about. I would not be surprised if some of the new characters we meet here are spun off into their own series. At the very least, I can hope that we will see more of them soon in some of the other series Brice writes.
With its strengths, I only have two very minor quibbles. First, the final confrontation with this book’s villain felt too short. Our hero Evan, along with his new allies, did have some challenges he had to overcome before his final face-off with this book’s evil witch, but this time it almost felt too quick for it to resolve. The other was the aftermath of Seth’s tale. I felt there was a great opportunity to explore grief in its various stages, especially the bargaining stage given what Seth goes through. We only get glimpses of what Seth is dealing with after their battle with the witch and I would have liked to have seen something a bit more in-depth. Nevertheless, these two points did not take away my enjoyment of the book as evidenced by my sadness when I finished reading the last page. I was not prepared for the story to end!
I give The Devil You Know 4 out of 5 Garnet Rings.
The Devil You Know is published by Sol Publishing and will be released on February 8, 2022. Pre-orders for The Devil You Know on Amazon can be made by clicking the banner below.