This is an urban fantasy story by a better than competent writer. One that has no trouble keeping one entertained. The well-constructed story is set in and around a very realistic feeling, modern, military academy, whilst the plot makes use of many well established "superstitions" surrounding the "dark arts".
The inter-play of characters was interesting, although too many of them were rather underdeveloped. I would particularly have liked the white knight figure of the gardener to have been more deeply explored, along with that of the undergraduate who released the ancient evil. The recovery just in time approach to solving a struggle was perhaps used once too often, but the action scenes were certainly exciting. Possibly the fact that the College kept running almost normally with so many deaths was slightly difficult to go along with. All these irritations were almost certainly due to the constraints of fashionable concise writing, and not to any lack of inventiveness in telling story.
Despite my minor criticisms, this book is a very well worthwhile fantasy read with plenty to keep the reader interested in searching out ongoing stories of Blackwell magic. This is one of the best long "short-stories" I have read, but I really hope McLaughlin starts to risk a bit more paper. This is a very clever use of the Occult in a modern "urban fantasy", by an author that all readers will be keen to read more of.