TJ Nichols stopping by today with her new release Warlock in Training from DSP Publications
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.
3 kinds of magic
Part of writing fantasy and urban fantasy is having a believable system of magic. It has to obey rules so that readers don’t suddenly stop reading and start wondering how that happened.
It’s not enough for the author to wave their hands and be all ‘because I said’. Magic has to blend and be a seamless part of the world, or in the case of Warlock in Training, two worlds.
In the book magic flows from Demonside across the void to the human world, where humans can use it. For more magic they need to tap into a demon directly, however for balance to be maintained and for both worlds to be healthy the magic must always be rebalanced (something the people in power on the human side of the void have deliberately lied about).
Here’s an excerpt where Angus (the human hero) learns about how magic is rebalanced in the demon world.
Saka grinned in a way that was most unsettling. “Before tomorrow’s fate decider, you owe Arlyxia some magic.”
Angus went to raise the circle, not wanting to part with blood or soul in a hurry, but Saka was faster, grabbing Angus’s wrist. The circle reformed around them both. He swallowed and looked Saka in the eye.
The demon’s bare chest lifted with each breath, his nostrils flared.
That twinge of lust that had hit Angus when he first saw Saka returned. Maybe it was the lazy smile, or the way he was half-dressed. Angus had always let his head be turned by a half-naked man. Saka might be a demon, but he was also male.
The demon’s grip gentled. His fingers caressed the soft skin on the inside of Angus’s wrist. His touch was hot, as though his body temperature was naturally warmer, and his skin felt nothing like human skin. It wasn’t soft or smooth.
Saka stepped closer. “Don’t you want to know the third way to rebalance?”
Angus was getting a good idea what it was, and as long as it meant no ritual cutting or eating of his soul, he was tempted. Very tempted.
He shouldn’t be. He should be running fast and far. Curiosity was stronger than fear, at least for Angus. It was curiosity that had led him to reading the underground theories. To preferring to study unofficially rather than officially. His father had banned that, but by then it was too late. The seeds of doubt had already been cast, and now Saka was watering them.
Here… here was an opportunity to learn more about magic than he ever could at home. Unless Saka was lying. Warlocks lied, wizards lied. Did anyone tell the truth about magic? However, if Angus could see it, there would be no hiding what was happening.
Angus stared at Saka. If Angus couldn’t open the void, he was waiting for rescue. He didn’t let himself wonder what would happen if there was no rescue. “When they come for me, will you let me go?”
“If it was my choice, yes. I would rather have a warlock that I can work with than one who sees me as inferior and wants to drain me. I think we could work well together.” His fingers hadn’t stopped moving on Angus’s skin, and he had stepped closer. Again.
The blue magic of the circle shimmered around them, casting its own soft light and blurring the world on the other side.
“Did you work with your previous warlock?”
Saka smiled. “He was never here the way you are now.” His hand lifted to cup Angus’s jaw. “But he was interested in how magic is balanced. I could show you the third way magic is restored to my world from yours.”
Angus stared into the bottomless black eyes. They weren’t empty or soulless the way he’d been told. Saka was smart and dangerous. Angus wasn’t going to be tricked into anything, or agree to anything blindly.
“What is it?”
Review by Elaine White
Book – Warlock in Training (Studies in Demonology #1)
Author – T.J. Nichols
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 226
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – YES!!
Genre – LGBT, Paranormal, Supernatural
Warnings: an orgy (explicit and with MF and MM partners) as well as pain play, cutting (for blood sacrifice and pleasure, not for pain) and some instances of violence
Part of a Series
Wow…the feels in this book!
First off, I just want to give T.J. Nichols a huge shout out from a big series-lover in thanks for marking this as a series. All too often, I’ve seen books with no warning that it’s part of a series and I end up frustrated when I get to the end only to find it’s a huge cliffhanger or it doesn’t answer the questions I need answered. There was no issue here.
As well as the warnings on both the publisher’s website and the Goodreads page that this was book 1 of a series, I knew by about 70% that there was no way all that needed to be told in this story would fit into the space left, so I was prepared in advance for the slightly-cliffhangery ending.
Still, I really feel that it answered all of my questions and rounded off the story that had been told adequately. Though there’s still so much more to tell, it didn’t end in that cliffhanger where you’re right in the middle of something important and it just stops dead. This is a well rounded ending to a complete, if more complex and continuing, storyline.
Right from the beginning, I was in awe of just how captivating and intriguing this story was. From line 1 I was interested in Angus and his story, then when Saka was introduced I was practically vibrating with exciting because the two together were just gold! Pure genius!
What was so great about them together was the intense chemistry right from their first look. Every tiny interaction was laced with so much feeling and depth that it was impossible not to love them together.
I really loved the fact that this wasn’t your typical Master/Slave relationship. It didn’t go the way of a Dom/sub relationship either. It was simply a matter of Angus gaining a demon that he expected to be his magical-slave, only to find that Saka was in the same position, expecting a human-warlock-slave to help him save his world. The way they find a balance with each other is charming and contained just the right amount of give and take between the demon and warlock. What made it even better was the free exchange of appreciation, knowledge and respect.
The story itself was so unique. The world-building required was immense, but I never felt bogged down by too much information or concepts that I couldn’t understand or that were never explained. Every foreign concept was explained in a relatable, reasonable way that appeared just when it was needed and when it made the most sense. The little nuances of how different the worlds were became a constantly bleed through reminder of just how different that made Angus and Saka from each other, without being in your face or sounding repetitive. I also really loved that Saka’s tail made multiple appearances without being intrusive. These subtle reminders really added to the integrity of the world-building and the sensation of being in the world with the characters.
Angus started this story as any other disgruntled teenager, who didn’t want to be where he was and had a tricky family life that made him want to rebel. As the story unfolded, not only did he grow immensely but he found himself by finding Saka. The way that Saka showed respect and a willingness to accept Angus into his life and world was perhaps the pivotal thing that really showed Angus that it was time to not only grow up but also to show the same respect in return. I really felt that, finally, Angus had found someone he could talk to, who understood him and who didn’t see him as the weirdo freak or have expectations that he couldn’t fulfill.
Saka was…charming. Brilliant. Amazing. I could gush forever about this bossy demon who stole Angus’ (and my!) heart. His knowledge and the way he treated Angus made our time in Demonside exciting and rippling with tension. The way that he helped Angus find his feet and himself was amazingly gentle, but also very hot.
Terrance was an interesting side character and I can really see why he was needed, even though he wasn’t particularly powerful or progressive for the story. He had a quiet, human-charm about him that drew Angus into some pretty well crafted love-triangle confusion and made him question everything.
I’ll freely admit that I cried and I was moved multiple times. To be fair and not give too much away, I’m only going to mark that points where I couldn’t hold back any more:
“Let me die in Saka’s bed.”
“Run and don’t look back.”
“The greater tribe wanted him to live.”
“I don’t want another warlock. I want you.”
“You have a place here.”
Yup, that’s right. I cried at all five of those moments, for good reasons. But to find out why, you’ll have to read it. But you should be doing that anyway.
With a well plotted, exceptionally written and unique storyline, T.J. Nichols impressed me to no end. Not only is this story intriguing and the characters thrillingly engaging, but it was an excellent first foray into their novel writing (as I’ve only read a short story before.) I will eagerly be returning to more of their work. There is a perfect balance of detail, action and description that allows the reader to sink deep into the story and the world, without feeling any more out of place than Angus first felt when he entered Demonside.
Powerful. Moving. Stunning.
This will be getting added to my paperback collection the minute it’s released. And I’ll be first in line to read book 2, Rogue in the Making.
“The uncertain young man who Saka had dragged across the void had died out on the sand, and in his place was a warlock who knew what he wanted.”
About TJ Nichols
TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. 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 bring magic to the everyday.
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.