Spells for the Dead (A Soulwood Novel Book 5) by Faith Hunter: Authentic Worldbuilding

Nell Ingram faces a dark magic with no known origin in the newest pulse-pounding paranormal procedural in the New York Times bestselling Soulwood series.

Nell is a rookie PsyLED agent, using the powers she can channel from deep within the earth to solve paranormal crimes. Together with her team, she’s taken on the direst magic and the most twisted foes. But she’ll need to tap into every ounce of power she has for her newest case.

Nell is called to the Tennessee mansion of a country music star and finds a disturbing scene—dead bodies rapidly decaying before everyone’s eyes. The witch on her team, T. Laine, has never seen magic that can steal life forces like this. PsyLED needs to find this lethal killer fast. But when a paranormal-hating FBI agent tries to derail the investigation, and the dark magics begin to spiral out of control, they find themselves under attack from all sides.

I haven’t read as much of Faith Hunter as I’d like but that offered me the rare opportunity of reading this book and finding out how it compares to other urban fantasy novels I’ve read and find out if it’s appealing. I always try to be fair with my reviews because that is what I’m asked to do but in this case, it was a pleasure to read and discover an author with the ability to not only weave a fantastic story but also create authentic world building.

Nell Ingram is not your ordinary special agent, she works for a paranormal investigative team but she’s also non human with special abilities, including the gift of reading the earth and communicating with plants. One of the best compelling parts of the character is how well the paranormal aspects are woven with an investigation into the deaths and spreading decay surrounding their new case. And while it is clear Nell is a newer agent, her abilities both mental and special give her unique insight. But will that allow her and her team to contain the decay and death before it escapes control?

I love the Southern flavor of the character voice, the little intricacies that show a depth of knowledge about politics and procedures in the region while highlighting the strengths of the area and doesn’t play into stereotypes. That’s part of what makes the storytelling so brilliant. The other aspect that makes the world building unique is the complexity surrounding the paranormal team, the details of casework, how they build the case, how they investigate both mundanely and magically. I loved Nell but I also love the other characters, how they interact, how they care about each other and how they work together to solve the deaths. I also loved Nell’s family and how she works to help her sisters.

The magical aspects are equally intricate and well thought out. I can see how the author has taken systems of magic and woven them into her own unique take. While there isn’t much that is new, it is how Faith Hunter puts it together into a harmonious whole, including bringing in references to her other series and other characters.

It is very crime procedural in the story. I love that style, especially with magic woven in. The only element that might take away from the engaging story is a surplus of details. They all tie together in the end but it can be a bit dry at points and there are certainly some graphic descriptions of the bodies that might turn off more fastidious readers.

I know this book whet my appetite for more. I love the crime procedural elements, the worldbuilding is exquisitely built and the characters are engaging and unique. If this sounds intriguing to you, I suggest you check out Spells of the Dead by Faith Hunter.

5 out of 5 decaying bodies

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