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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Divine Circle of Ladies Playing with Fire by Dolores Stewart Riccio

This is the fourth paranormal book review warming us up to Halloween. This is also the fifth book in the Divine Circle series and it is a no holds barred roller coaster ride. Warning: this book is about a crime fighting witch's coven for those who may find that objectionable. In the series we started with the five dynamic women tackling a serial killer, then the murderer of a local family, murderer of the residents of the rehab facility, a serial poisoner, and now they deal with a serial arsonist. The members of the Divine Circle are Cassandra (the Main Character) who runs an herbal business, wise woman and librarian Fiona, doll designer Deidre, wealthy animal advocate Heather, and television chef Phillipa. Each woman has her magical specialty: Cassandra has psychic visions which often leads them to their next case and she communicates with animals, Fiona is the groups "finder" with a pendulum, Deidre makes magical dolls and amulets, Heather makes magical candles, and Phillipa is scary accurate at Tarot readings.

The story is as much about the dynamics of women's friendships as it is about crime solving and their wiccan faith. In this installment the ladies are particularly challenged when an arsonist sets fires to animal filled buildings - the Fresh Meadow Stables and even an animal shelter. Young native american recurring character Thunder Pony - aka Tip (tracker par excellent) returns as well as Winifred "Freddie" who is a young psychokinetic whiz. The criminal arsonist is one of two men in town, each of which has a champion in the circle that threatens to tear the close friendships apart.
"A hooded figure slipped silently out of the dark pines and dashed toward the burning stable where horses were screaming in terror.  Firefighters, who had just roared into the stable's driveway and were jumping off their trucks, shouted at him but he paid no attention.  He ran swiftly and surely, never hesitating even when the heat and acrid odor of the fire hit him in the face.  As he sprinted forward, he stripped off his jacket and grabbed one of the hlaters hanging outside the bard door.  With the aid of the halter and the jacket as a blindfold, he pulled the first horse he encountered, a trumpeting stallion, out of the stable door to safety.  Someone grabbed the horse and led it into a fenced paddock, and the man darted back into the stable.  Three times he entered the burning building until the roof collapsed on the remaining animals.  When the shrieks and the stench of burning flesh had subsided, Fire Chief Mick Finn wanted to thank the hero who'd rescued three of the eighteen horses being boarded at the stable, but the man had disappeared into the woods from which he'd come."
Each Divine Circle story has a humanitarian outreach of the circle (Freddie was one such outreach in book two). This time out the circle takes in a battered woman to nurture and protect her from a sadistic ex-boyfriend.  Sylvia was sent to Cassandra by Patty Peacedale - a local pastor's wife and friend of the circle.

Cassandra may have discovered a way to spur her visions on demand, which has been an ongoing problem - now she just has to deal with seeing things she would rather not know. Tragedy will touch a member of the circle in this adventure and tears will flow. As spell wielding believers and passionate women they are tempted more than ever when the tragedy strikes to use their powers towards vengence and the reader feels their ethical struggle acutely.

This novel grabs you, surrounds you with these amazing women and historic Plymouth Massachusets so much you feel they somehow are your personal friends. When you reach the end of the story you feel empty - as if a lifelong friend has gone away. You immediately want to know when you will hear from your friends again (i.e. the next book is released.) This is the true magic of this series and this particular book. The author brings each woman alive, the setting is real in your mind's eye and the danger is palpable. The ending is of both main storylines are concluded to satisfaction.  Great read.

My only complaint would be several typos that the editing process missed. I find this a small annoyance compared to the sweeping drama of the book. Give this book a try, I think you will become a Divine Circle fan in short order.

Obtained book through: personal purchase

Until next Monday I wish you many mysterious moments.

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Kaye said...

Ooh, I just love this series. one of the reasons is that I used to live not too far from Plymouth so all the descriptions just put me right in the scene. The characters are terrific and the plots are so much fun. Great review!

A.F. Heart said...

Thank you Kaye,

I have never been to Plymouth, but after reading the books in this series I want to go there.

I am glad the review did the books justice.

AF Heart

Barbara said...

Sounds interesting so I'm off to the library's online catalog to see if they have this series. Still waiting for that book fairy to pay me a visit but so far no such luck.

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