Pure Magic, by Rachel Neumeier

To say that Rachel Neumeier's Black Dog series, of which Pure Magic (out now in paperback!)  is the second novel, is my favorite werewolf series isn't saying much, because I can't think of another werewolf series I like.   But perhaps the fact that I now do have one I like shows that these are really good books, liable to be enjoyed by those that share my taste.  In any event, I read Pure Magic in a sitting that was almost single, except for the bits when guilt drove me to do house and garden chores.

The basic premise is that some people are born Black Dogs, whose dark shadow aspects let them turn into wolves (perhaps more shapeshifterish than werewolfish, because of the moon not being a key ingredient).  There are also some people who are Pure--who have the antithesis of the black shadow, and who can do magic, and who are prized by (the more civilized) Black Dog communities because of their calming, protective energies.  There are also vampires (very bad) who have mostly been destroyed in a brutal war between them and the Black Dogs, and as a result of that war, ordinary people are now aware that Black Dogs exist.

Pure Magic continues the story of  Dimilioc, a good community of Black Dogs, who don't hunt people, and who don't want stray lawless Black Dogs doing so either.   A new person is being brought into this group--Justin, a teenaged boy who is Pure (mostly the Pure are women, so this is odd) who has No Clue whatsoever about what  Black Dogs are until some savage renegades attack him.    He also has no clue what Pure Magic is, and what it can do, and why he should bother, and he does not much like the idea that the master of Dimilioc is pretty determined that he should stay with them.

So he escapes to go back to the southwest where his grandmother is, and Natividad, the Pure girl who was the heroine of book 1, goes with him because she thinks that her Black Dog community needs to face a new threat that's popped up down there, and it will force their hand if she is in danger and the strongest of Dimilioc's Black Dogs will come to her rescue and the enemy will give way easily....

She was right about the danger part.  The defeating the enemy fairly easily part...not so much.

So clearly there's lots of world-building, and it is good, solidly fascinating world-building that (most importantly) serves as a most interesting stage on which the characters can lead character-filled lives while constantly fighting for their lives/ learning magic/getting to know each other (includes very interesting romance!).  Even if, like me, you aren't drawn to werewolves qua werewolves, especially fighting werewolves, do try this series!  If I had a copy of book 3 at hand (it isn't out yet, so I don't) I would have moved right on into it, house and garden be hanged! 

NB:  Brandy at Random Musings of a Bibliophile (a fellow fan of the series) did a much more thorough job summing everything up, so if your interest is at all piqued, visit her post.  And also Maureen's post, at By Singing Light.  (and I feel that when me and Brandy and Maureen and also Chachic all like a book very much, it goes to show something).

Black Dog was published by the sadly short-lived Strange Chemistry imprint of Angry Robot, and Rachel has decided to self-publish the series, interspersing the novel length segments with short-story collections.  My review copy of Pure Magic was sent by the author.


  1. "I feel that when me and Brandy and Maureen and also Chachic all like a book very much, it goes to show something"

    I agree! (Probably that we all have relatively similar tastes in books, for one thing. :D)

  2. Ooo okay. I will give the first one a try -- my library has it available in ebook. I'm not always on board with werewolf stories, but I trust you!


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