warlock in trainingRating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novella

Angus Donohue does not want to be a warlock. He’s been against it his whole life. So much so that he does his level best to fail out of Warlock College. But Angus ends up summoning a demon anyway. And then his entire world is turned upside down when his demon, a mage named Saka, pulls him through the void and into Demonside.

After the initial fear passes, Angus realizes that the inkling he’s always had, that nagging in his gut that things aren’t as they seem, has been right. The way warlocks use magic is wrong. As is all the information he’s always been told. Angus learns quickly that there is a balance of magic between Demonside and Humanside, and that the grab for power by warlocks has greatly unsettled the balance. Demonside is dying, and Humanside is slowly being covered in a sheet of ice.

Saka teaches Angus what he needs to know and as Angus begins life again in Humanside, he works to undermine the authority. For all the magic warlocks take, they can give back and keep a balance. But the laws in Humanside mark Angus as a traitor and an outlaw the moment he’s discovered. But he has a respite. Saka has managed to convince the demons that a training program with willing magic users can not only help to restore the balance, but will make a lasting difference. Angus and Saka will be at the forefront, if Angus manages to survive.

Okay, so my summary doesn’t do this story justice, and I could go on and on. But I don’t want ruin this fantastic world and wonderful story for anyone. Nichols takes some familiar themes to anyone who knows fantasy and paranormal worlds, and creates something new and a little different. The world building here is outstanding, and every piece is explained without straying even close to the info dump line.

Magic is prevalent in the world, but only wizards draw on it. A warlock is considered a step above, and summons and connects to a demon so they can draw on a demon’s power. In the world as Angus knows it, he feels this is…well not wrong exactly, but not exactly right. And he certainly doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. So he tries not to. But in the process, he ends up with Saka. And this was exactly the best thing that could happen to him. Because Angus is willing to listen and learn, and therefore, understands exactly what Saka is trying to teach him.

What follows is a series of events that have Angus growing in leaps and bounds. He’s young and unsure of his place and of his talent, but he knows he needs to do something to right the wrongs. His connection with Saka is palpable. Though they become lovers, this isn’t a romance. They are friends, they are connected, and yes, they have sex. But demons don’t think as humans do, and Angus needs to adjust his thinking as well. Angus has someone on the human side that has caught his interest as well. So not a traditional romance by any means, but there are certainly romantic and erotic elements that are used to great effect.

As I said, the world building here is fantastic and Nichols does an amazing job parceling out information exactly at the right times. I loved that we got to learn everything we needed without it feeling forced or contrived. The pacing in this story is absolutely perfect, and the ending of the book is exactly what it needed to be. We get a more than satisfactory ending while making the it clear there is more story to come. I, for one, can’t wait for the next book.

Now, for me, this book wasn’t entirely perfect. There were a few small things that felt overdone, in both the book and in the genre overall. While I understood exactly why they were used as they were, I would have liked to see something a bit more original. But believe me when I say this is the tiniest of criticisms and did not overly diminish my enjoyment of the book. Especially when a certain character got exactly what was coming to him.

I am exactly the kind of reader this book was written for. Engaging characters, interesting and compelling world, and outstanding story telling. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fantasy lovers out there. And I’ll be waiting with baited breath for the next installment.

A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.

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