Studies in Demonology Series by TJ Nichols #SeriesReview #LGBT #Fantasy #GayRomance

Dana reviews the Studies in Demonology series by TJ Nichols. Copies of the books were provided in exchange for an honest review.

STUDIES IN DEMONOLOGY REVIEW TOUR

SERIES INFORMATION

Author: TJ Nichols

Publisher: DSP Publications

Genres: Urban Fantasy, M/M Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

The stories need to be read in order.

Dreamspinner Press is running a special price offer on the series during the Blog Tour.

Book 1 will be $1.99 – Book 2 $2.99 – Book 3 $3.99

BOOK 1 – Warlock in Training – 78 000 words

Can be read as a standalone story

Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.

His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.

Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.

Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.

Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.

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IT WASN’T that Angus Donohue couldn’t summon a demon; it was that he didn’t want to. He didn’t even want to be here. A cool breeze brushed against his skin, and the trees around him rattled like a closet full of old bones. Maybe if he didn’t put enough will into the spell the whole thing would fall apart.

If he couldn’t summon a demon, he’d fail the class and get kicked out of the exclusive Warlock College his father had forced him to attend. While there was a certain prestige in being a warlock, it wasn’t what Angus wanted to do with his life. He certainly didn’t want a demon to draw magic from. He had to fail this class. His father would be horrified, but Angus would be free from all things magical.

“Widdershins, three times,” the lecturer commanded.

All the college students of Demonology 102 started walking anti-clockwise around the circles they had carefully constructed out of will. Angus suppressed the shiver. He wasn’t afraid of demons. Okay, maybe just a little. What if his demon was something truly monstrous?

Last semester they’d been learning about the different types of demons and the theory behind drawing magic from one. This semester was about putting that knowledge into practice. Those people with magic who didn’t draw on demons were called wizards and usually sold their services cheaply in the local paper. Angus didn’t want to be a practicing wizard either. Just because he had magic didn’t mean he needed to make a career out of it, and telling his father that hadn’t been a wise move. His father had spent three hours railing about why wizards were dangerous and should be banned from practicing magic.

So here he was, trying to summon a demon that he didn’t want, to give himself more of the magic that he didn’t want either. He let his circle weaken and his attention drift. He would not summon a demon.

He’d have rather been a vet.

Maybe studied medicine.

Although the rich, these days, saw specialist warlock healers who had demons. Though his father sneered at them too. He sneered at anything that didn’t increase his power and standing. That he was on the board of the East Vinland Warlock College did not make life IT WASN’T that Angus Donohue couldn’t summon a demon; it was that he didn’t want to. He didn’t even want to be here. A cool breeze brushed against his skin, and the trees around him rattled like a closet full of old bones. Maybe if he didn’t put enough will into the spell the whole thing would fall apart.

If he couldn’t summon a demon, he’d fail the class and get kicked out of the exclusive Warlock College his father had forced him to attend. While there was a certain prestige in being a warlock, it wasn’t what Angus wanted to do with his life. He certainly didn’t want a demon to draw magic from. He had to fail this class. His father would be horrified, but Angus would be free from all things magical.

“Widdershins, three times,” the lecturer commanded.

All the college students of Demonology 102 started walking anti-clockwise around the circles they had carefully constructed out of will. Angus suppressed the shiver. He wasn’t afraid of demons. Okay, maybe just a little. What if his demon was something truly monstrous?

BOOK 2 – Rogue in the Making – 87 000 words

The blood sacrifices have brought rain to Demonside, but across the void, the Warlock College of Vinland is still storing and gathering magic, heedless of the warnings of the international magical community. The underground is full of warlocks who disagree with the college, but do they care about wizards and demons or only about snatching power?

With a foot in each world, Angus is no longer sure whom he can trust. The demons don’t trust humans, and even though he is learning more magic, he will never be one of them. He is human and only tolerated. Some demons would be happy to slit his throat. It’s only because his demon is powerful in his own right that Angus is alive.

Saka only has a year to prove that Angus’s people can change and that the magic taken will be rebalanced, but the demons want action. His affection for Angus is clouding his judgment and weakening his position in the tribe. Time is running out, and he must make a choice.

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BOOK 3 – Blood for the Spilling – 93 000 words

Sheets of ice are spreading across the human world, ushering in an ice age as the magic drained from Demonside turns that world into a desert. Angus and reluctant warlock Terrance have defected from Vinland to the Mayan Empire—a land of dark and potent magic. But the Mayans aren’t offering sanctuary for free.

Nor is the world willing to stand back as Vinland attacks, and the backlash will affect all magic users.

Mage Saka has no tribe. He is now just another refugee fleeing the dying Demonside. He knows the conflict brewing now will be worse than the first demon war. Countries are banding together—not just against Vinland, but against all magic. Where will the powerful Mayan Empire stand?

Angus might have the power to fight Vinland and the Warlock College, but the cost will be terrible. Saka is torn between helping Angus and stopping him. And Terrance would do anything for Angus, but he’s terrified of the man Angus is becoming, even as Saka is warming to the idea of a relationship between the three of them.

No matter what choice they make, victory will be bittersweet, and when the ash settles and the snow melts, nothing will be the same.

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I have had this series on my wishlist for a little bit so I jumped at the chance to fit it in and review it. I love stories with magic so I figured this would be up my alley.

Warlock in Training – This first book is a lot of set up for the world in which the story takes place. The humans in this story live in Vinland. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be our Earth. There is a neighboring nation called The Mayan Empire, so maybe? But there is something very relatable, We might not have magic here but we do have individuals in charge who claim power and use it in corrupt ways like Angus’s father and his cohorts. Angus and most of his friends are magic users. Wizards who draw upon energy and magic that occurs in their natural world and warlocks who use demons and draw upon their power to perform magic. Angus, from the beginning, isn’t keen on using a demon or becoming a warlock. He would’ve rather gone into medicine. Despite not wanting to call up a demon, Angus is successful but he didn’t count on his demon being a mage and pulling him over to Demonside. Angus learns about the imbalance between the two worlds and discovers that warlocks are taking too much power and not giving any back.

Angus really is a good guy and wants things fixed, but the people in power try to remove his memories instead. It’s a funny situation because from the little time that Angus spent in Demonside, we learn that even though demons aren’t the most hospitable to strangers, they are a society that care for each other; for all life in their world.  Whereas, in Vinland, there seems to be a general air of “survival of the fittest.” Not everyone is bad, but magic is a commodity and the power hoarding is hurting the humans that live there. Life is not as respected in Vinland as it is in Demonside. I love Angus because he is pretty altruistic and his mage demon Saka is patient and wants to help fix things before there is a war between the two worlds. He is trying to work with Angus to fix things and possibly an underground group that wants to stop the college. I found the worldbuilding in this book fascinating and at the end I couldn’t wait to see if Angus and Saka would be able to fix things.

Rogue in the Making – After finishing this book, my nerves were jangling and I could barely sit still to write the review because I wanted to continue reading the last book in the series to see how this trilogy would end. After the events in the first book, Angus’s father kicking him out and trying to kill him, Angus is at the mercy of Demonside and the underground. Angus begins living a not secret double life. In Demonside, Angus and a few volunteer wizards work with mages to learn magic and balance. Their goal is to go back and teach Vinland and the warlocks that magic can be pulled from their own world without using demons, or at least let them know how they can help rebalance after taking magic from the demons they use. In Demonside, Angus becomes closer to Saka and their sex magic isn’t only for rebalancing. In Vinland, Angus is close to a warlock named Terrance. Terrance introduced Angus to the underground and he was never that interested in having a demon either. The underground might have started out with good intentions but in their hopes to stop the college, they have stopped caring about what happens to Demonside and they seem to be hoarding magic now, too.

The underground keeps getting worse and they hold Terrance’s safety over Angus’s head to keep him in line. Angus would rather take his chances on Demonside, but he keeps giving too much of himself while he is there. He still needs to go home and recharge,and he doesn’t want to leave Terrance to be punished. The other wizards who were training with mages are also seeing the underground for what they are. There is a camaraderie between Angus and the trainees, including his ex-boyfriend. They don’t seem to be safe in either world and I couldn’t help but root for the band of magic users. Eventually they have to strike out on their own along with Saka and another mage named Wek. There was suspense as they searched for a different tribe of demons that work with a nation other than Vinland, giving the humans and demons a place of refuge. There is loss in this book, but I loved seeing how the characters grew, especially the humans who became more aware of the world around them. Now on to the last book to relieve my nervous agitation.

Blood for the Spilling – At the end of the last book, Angus, Saka, Terrance and the other defectors from the Lifeblood demon tribe and Vinland finally reach the Mayan Empire and the demon tribes that work with them. They were looking for refuge from the power hungry warlocks in Vinland.  But after being separated from Terrance and Saka, Angus has to wonder if the evil he knew was better. The magic users (priests) in the Mayan Empire all work with demons but they are much more balanced. They have a big distrust for Vinland and anyone who comes from there, unfortunately.

The action is elevated in this book by a lot. Terrance must play a game for his life in order to prove his loyalty to Angus and to the balance of magic. Saka stretches his magic out further than he has before to see how the rest of the demons are faring during the imbalance crisis.  Angus learns how to use magic in a way no one else has before. Now this isn’t the first story where the the underestimated main character shows gifts or talent beyond what they have done before, and proves to be the hero that everyone needed. But it’s a trope that I’m still a big fan of. There is a lot of this book where the characters try to make small actions of rebalancing, but as the warm rainforests start to feel the chill, it did seem like the situation was hopeless. The plan to fix things doesn’t come to Angus until there are only days to fix the situation and everything moves very fast, but I’ll leave out whether everything is successful or not and whether Angus, Terrance, and Saka are able to find some sort of happy relationship when it’s all over.

Series review – My reviews for each book were pretty short in order to fit all three in without making the review too long. There is much more to say if I wanted to draw parallels to our world, and to talk about the very slow burn love story between the three main characters. I liked that it took awhile for the three to build trust and really grow their feelings for each other. The characters and world building were great too. I am so glad I was finally able to read this series and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a little bit of fantasy in their books.

9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars 

About the Author

TJ Nichols is the author of the Studies in Demonology and Mytho series. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily. Writing urban fantasy allows TJ to make sure that evil gets vanquished and the hero gets his man.

With two cats acting as supervisors, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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Twitter: @TobyJNichols

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