That Old Black Magic, a review

First of all, thank you for NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review. I grabbed this book as it was set in WWII times, no surprise there. However, I didn’t re-read the synopsis before diving into the book so this was all I knew, and lord was I confused! But, obviously, this was all my own fault and I managed to catch up to the gist of the plot by 20-odd% through.

This book engages in the mystical and the unknown, following a Scottish policeman in his work to uncover German spies. He manages to tangle himself up in a world of magic and spirits, with people supposedly speaking to the dead and transferring messages from the other side as well as being part of curious cults (for want of a better word) who terrify and control their members. Essentially this is a very odd book which mixes the occult with British 1940s/50s values and it’s incredibly entertaining.

I was invested in the plot and hooked right to the very end, I absolutely loved the mystery present within the story and how it entwined itself into the fantastical plot and the societal feelings of the times. Our Scotsman protagonist is a great viewpoint for the story, but there are also other points of view dotted about within the book which encompass the story more fully and allow for the reader to gather the gist of events and their relevance to each other.

I whole-heartedly recommend picking this book up if its synopsis intrigues you, as there are so many dimensions to this novel that something is sure to spark your interest! I definitely enjoyed the reading experience.


I saw this book in Waterstones, and the cover made me pick it up and read the synopsis. From that point, I knew I would have to read this book. I haven’t seen this book anywhere online and I am so surprised as this is a really hard-hitting YA book, it is written really well and I enjoyed it (if that’s the right word) a lot.

This book is based around a cult, where the members are cut of from the rest of society and brainwashed into thinking that those on the outside are morally wrong and that the people within the group are more worthy of God’s love. It was really tough at some points to have to read about what they were all going through, how different their lives were and how they thought it was all normal. But that is the point of books like these. They’re there to make you think. To make you reconsider what is going on in your world and to get you to re-evaluate your actions and your life.

The ending of this book was so sad and heartbreaking, as well as full of action. I did predict what was going to happen at the very end, but the way in which it was done and the writing style of Lisa Heathfield made it poignant and wrenching despite my prediction.

This was an absolutely amazing book which I think so many more people should read. It has its faults, but it is so engrossing and something I consider to be an important read. A difficult topic which needs to be covered.