Evan and Seth have been together about a year now. They are romantic partners, as well as working together to stop the witch disciples from carrying out their ritual murders. While Seth and Evan have successful stopped four of the killings, it is all getting increasingly more difficult as the witch disciples now know they are coming. So while the men know exactly who the intended victim will be, as well as the current name of the witch disciple who wants to kill him, getting close to the killer isn’t proving easy.
The men are in Cleveland, where they expect the next murder to occur, when Seth is kidnapped and trapped in a spell. Now, Evan finds himself frantically working not only to stop the murder, but to get to Seth before it is too late. Fortunately, the men have a lot of allies on their side who are willing to help. Not only that, but Evan’s brother, Parker, has come back into his life and may be an ally on their quest as well. But with Seth’s life on the line, not to mention a murderer at large who would be happy to see any one of them dead, Seth and Evan must do all they can to stop a killer and find a way to safety.
The Devil You Know is the sixth book in Morgan Brice’s Witchbane series and I found this an engaging installment. The series follows Seth and Evan as they try to stop a group of witch disciples who have been conducting a ritual murder every year for centuries. Each book follows a different adventure as the men try to intervene and stop the latest murder. As the series has grown, things have evolved a little in terms of the world building lore, but this is definitely a series with an overarching plot that carries through the books. Brice does a great job catching the reader up here on the foundation of the series and some key things that have happened thus far, so I think if you are really eager to start here, you probably could. But I’d suggest at least reading Witchbane first, as while the middle stories can mostly stand alone, getting that first book in would really help set up the series and Evan and Seth’s relationship.
This series has somewhat of a serial quality as in each installment Seth and Evan face essentially the same task — stop the witch disciple before he kills the intended victim. One of the places I’ve struggled at times is the formulaic nature of the books, and I think Brice does a great job here in shaking things up in some nice ways. While Seth and Evan’s end goal here is still the same, this book takes a different approach to the storytelling that works well. While the men are still hunting the killer, most of this book is focused on the relationships, rather than the hunt — Seth and Evan’s connection with each other, both of their connections with their brothers, and even some found family connections with other hunters and folks in the paranormal world. We see how much these men have come to mean to one another over the past year and the strong bond they have formed with one another. I also really enjoyed the backstory we get with Seth and his brother, Jesse. I don’t want to go into too much detail as to what happens to Seth under the spell, but it gives us a chance to really see that relationship between the brothers, which I loved. Jesse’s death is really the impetus for this whole series, and so I appreciated getting these personal moments. We also meet Evan’s brother, Parker, who joins in to help out. He and Evan have lost touch somewhat over the past year as Evan is out witch hunting, so it was nice to see that connection as well (particularly given Evan’s awful parents) and to the have the parallel here of both men reconnecting with their brothers. The suspense side of things is still here, and things come to an exciting conclusion, but that isn’t as much of a focus of the story as it is in past books. I personally found the change up to be a really nice way to give some new angles to the series and shake things up a bit with the books.
I have also noted in the past that sometimes the world building felt a bit unfocused, as the series is set up with this very structured situation — twelve disciples, each killing the oldest in the family on a twelve-year rotation. So as the structure changed with the books (presumably to avoid having to set each book a year apart), I sometimes found that the world building didn’t fully hold up. In this book, I feel like Brice did a great job cleaning up some of those rough edges, giving explanations to things that hadn’t totally fit and allowing the world building to adapt in ways that made sense. So I appreciated the way this story comes together and it gives a nice set up for the stories to come.
As with most of her books, Brice has a lot of cameos here from folks from other series (mostly from her Gail Z. Martin pen name). I knew a few of them and others were new to me, so I don’t think you need to know her other books to follow along here. Sometimes I struggle in Brice’s books with characters who I feel like I’m supposed to know, but that wasn’t a problem for me here.
Overall, I really enjoyed this installment and I liked the way Brice comes at this story from somewhat of a different angle than others in the series. We still get the witch hunting and the magic and suspense, but the shift in focus to more of the relationship end gave this one a fresh feel that I really liked.