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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review - A Cast-Off Coven

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This is an enjoyable new series.  You can read the review I did on the first book (Secondhand Spirits) in the series here.  Also read the interview with the author here.  This is an advance review since the book isn't released until June 1.

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Copyright: June 1, 2010 (Signet); 342 pgs.

Series: #2 in Witchcraft Mysteries

Sensuality: mild

Mystery sub-genre: Cozy + Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

Main Character: Lily Ivory, powerful natural witch and owner of vintage clothing store

Setting: Current day San Francisco

Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review

At the local art school things are getting out of hand and an apparent ghost is raising the tensions so the student body is fighting and arguing. Lily is asked to look into this paranormal activity...and discovers a body at the bottom of the reportedly haunted staircase where a few decades prior a student supposedly had committed suicide. The body is of Jerry Becker, a wealthy owner of beauty salons and various investments who is found to have been tied to the historic suicide in the same location.

Lily is surprised when local power broker witch Aidan leaves her no alternative but to deal with whatever is going wrong no matter how her newly blossoming romance with Max, who dislikes her involvement with anything paranormal, could blow up. Lily believes there is a bigger problem than the suicide (probable murder) from decades ago, she is more concerned about the apparent demonic activity that she believes traces back to when the building had been a convent.  Lily also believes Jerry Becker was killed by a very real person.

For a cozy / urban fantasy hybrid mystery this series is an enjoyable read, more positive and "light" than strictly urban fantasies and the cozy factor is still there.  Enjoyable supporting cast of Bronwyn, Maya and Lily's familiar Oscar keep the tone lighter to counter the demon fighting.  Lily's building a romance with Max, the "I hate anything remotely paranormal or psychic" reporter.  Aidan mentions that it is Darrin and Samantha in Bewitched, but I disagree - Darrin at least acknowledged Samantha was a witch whereas Max just insists Lily is naive or delusional.  I continue to find Max tedious, there must be a better relationship for Lily out there!
I moved to the center of the hallway and stood still, arms outstretched, trying to discern what in the world - or beyond this world - we were dealing with.

The breath became a low moan, bouncing off the corridor walls, growing in intensity, surging and swirling until it felt as though it were inside my head.  The walls began to seethe with the sound, swelling and waning as though they were made of pliable membrane rather than stucco and stone.  Everything vibrated with sensations of anger, despair, and fierce jealousy.

"This is crazy!" Kevin sprang to his feet. "Let's go!"

He grabbed Maya's hand and yanked her down the hall, Ginny close on their heals.

"Run, Lily!" Ginny yelled.  "Come on!"

The moaning became a roar, filling the hallway until it screamed like a runaway freight train.  And just as suddenly it stopped.

I opened my eyes, turned tail, and ran.

I may be a witch, but I'm no fool.
The mystery element is multi-faceted between the other-worldly and the physical world.  It kept my interest but the reader does seem to be ahead of Lily.  You know it is about the recently opened closet room before she gets it etc.  The resolution to the story held no surprises but was handled well.  Probably the most surprising twist in the story is the police detective coming to talk to Lily about the ghostly happenings and asking for help.  The ending promises more on that front.

For this genre the characters are well done and remind me of an old pair of jeans, they are comfortable and feel good.  This is what you want in a cozy series and I think it is successful at it.

For your convenience you may purchase your copy here.

A little something extra for you:

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