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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 05/2022
  • 978-0-9979449-7-6 B09PFBG3JN
  • 331 pages
  • $4.99
Paperback Details
  • 05/2022
  • 978-0-9979449-6-9
  • 314 pages
  • $16.00
Hardcover Details
  • 05/2022
  • 978-0-9979449-5-2
  • 325 pages
  • $28.00
Ron Gabriel
Author
The Pawns
Ron Gabriel, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Publish)

A psychologist uses witchcraft to treat an abused boy, and finds himself in a race with the Devil—literally—when his magic inadvertently exposes his patient to a demon. Travis is a witch practicing psychotherapy in modern day Bucharest. He’s devised an orb that siphons human trauma to replenish his power. The sphere induces patients to share deep secrets, much like hypnosis, and repressed pain is extracted without any harm done. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. The doctor cannot resist testing his magic on two patients who will not share themselves otherwise. His technique seems to work until it turns wicked. Although nothing in the spell invites it, a demon hijacks everything. Forced to stand against the evil that powers him, Travis must face long-held delusions about his virtue, his origin, and his hope of redemption, even as supernatural forces terrorize those already exposed to his magic.
Reviews
Gabriel’s second installment in The Bucharest Witches contemporary urban horror series picks up four years after The Banished, with Bucharest-based witch and psychologist Travis Coman fighting the forces of evil in Eastern Europe and New England. Travis has created a crystal ball-like orb that extracts people’s fears and anxiety and transfers that emotional energy to power his magic. He tests the orb on two patients—Andrei, a young boy who has bruises and is easily distracted, and nursing home resident Marku, who is tortured by guilt and shame—and encourages them to lay bare their pasts because “[s]haring releases torment that’s toxic while it’s bottled up.”

But there’s a catch. Soon, a gruesome death reveals that the orb unexpectedly creates a conduit through which the devil can possess the hapless patients. Meanwhile, Travis’s testing tactics also extend to Stefan, Andrei’s overprotective father who hints that he harbors a secret past. Fans of horror and the occult will enjoy this urban adventure with magical battles, an intricate mystery, and travels around the world. Gabriel focuses this second installment on Travis’s clash with the witch coven that considers him an outsider, and the tension takes time to build as Travis navigates the deception and cruel magical manipulation surrounding him as well as those who try to do good.

The action commences when Stefan announces that he and Andrei will vacation in Vermont, the location of a family Travis knew well who experienced a tragic accident. Travis and his mentor, Sorinah, travel to Vermont, wondering if the coincidence is a trap to draw them to their enemies. As the orb’s power also grows, Travis’s fight to overcome its pull ratchets up the story’s suspense. Readers who have read the first in the series will eagerly follow Travis’s continued adventures as he plays cat and mouse and investigates the mystery of who is really being hunted, though newcomers are advised to start with The Banished.

Takeaway: A suspenseful urban horror sequel with magic, devilry, and inspired surprises.

Great for fans of: T.J. Payne’s Intercepts, Wendy Webb’s The Keepers of Metsan Valo.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Kirkus Reviews

In this paranormal sequel, an immortal witch’s past and present collide as an old enemy seeks revenge.

Travis Coman, like other witches, feeds on “mortal essence.” This typically kills mortals, but Travis, a psychologist in Bucharest, Romania, uses an orb and ancestral magic to ingest patients’ essences nonlethally. It’s a way for his coven and mortals to peacefully coexist, alleviating witches’ fears of detection. Sadly, as Travis is still perfecting this technique, the orb seemingly infects recent patient Marku Catargiu with a murderous demon. By the time Travis realizes a student named Andrei may also be infected, the young man and his father, Stefan, are in Sussex, Vermont—the place the witch first experimented with his family’s magic. Travis and his female friend and fellow witch Sorinah make the overseas trip to cast the demon out, unaware that a vengeance-minded witch awaits them in Vermont. This elaborate revenge scheme against Travis also involves local mortal Rachel, whose recurring nightmares amazingly lead her to a body—possibly that of her best friend who disappeared four years ago. Travis fights to save Andrei as well as protect himself and his Sussex friends before the evil witch hurts anyone. Gabriel’s story moves at an impressive pace. Despite abundant dialogue tying this narrative to the first installment, scenes and conversations are effectively concise. Even readers new to the series will easily follow the mostly linear plot. Action comes in quick bursts and comprises such entertaining bits as a witch capable of “shifting”—inhabiting an animal with a vicious bite. Standouts among the solid cast include smart and reliable Sorinah, often the voice of reason (even when using witches’ telepathic “transference”), and Rachel, whose haunting dreams may indicate a psychic ability. The engaging story boasts gleeful twists and betrayals, though some readers will see them coming. The ending opens intriguing doors for further installments.

A brisk, enjoyable supernatural tale of black magic and powerful spells.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 05/2022
  • 978-0-9979449-7-6 B09PFBG3JN
  • 331 pages
  • $4.99
Paperback Details
  • 05/2022
  • 978-0-9979449-6-9
  • 314 pages
  • $16.00
Hardcover Details
  • 05/2022
  • 978-0-9979449-5-2
  • 325 pages
  • $28.00

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