Home For A Spell

Home for a Spell_MadelynAlt_8474746

4 STARS OUT OF 5

This is the 7th entry in the Bewitching Mystery series, with a storyline that begins approximately two weeks following the conclusion of the previous novel, A Witch in Time. Like its predecessors, this is definitely not a standalone novel. The previous entries in the series have built considerable backstory that is necessary to the comprehension of all that happens in this tale.

In this story the murder occurs about one-third of the way through the book. Again Maggie and Marcus discover the body while engaged in an activity that had nothing to do with murder and mayhem. Or so they think.

At this point in the series, Maggie has reached a psychological acceptance of her empathic abilities. Her ability to intuit and deduce is growing daily. Her only questions now are how to control it and how to interpret what she feels. She struggles to interpret what she hears in the unusual confidences told to her, for she knows they are provided to her for a reason. And she especially tries to accept and utilize what she hears when the voice in her head begins to expound.

Her relationship with Marcus grows stronger every day and they become a team. Not only are they a team in that they are living together, they are fast becoming a team with their witchy abilities. They hear each other’s thoughts at times and they feel each other’s intentions. And they support each other’s needs and goals.

In the end, through both their efforts and through a growing acceptance of their skills by Tom Fielding, the identity and motivations of the murderer are discovered. Thus the book ends, and basically, so does the series.

Apparently the author intended at least one more book for the series, an offering entitled In Charm’s Way. For whatever reason, even though cover art and a plot blurb were prepared for the novel almost two years ago, it does not appear to have been actually published.

However, if it is never published, this reader will not go away feeling cheated. The end of this 7th novel is a positive one. There is no cliffhanger even if all the plot threads surrounding the secondary characters are not yet sewed up. And realistically, none of the characters’ stories would ever be completed, for as long as one draws breath, there is always another story to tell.

But, if this is, indeed, the last entry in the series, we can close the book on the last sentence with a smile on our faces. We can let Maggie and Marcus go with best wishes and kind thoughts for they are well and good with their Universe.

Cover Art from Goodreads

Advertisements

Pivot

Pivot_17969405

4 STARS OUT OF FIVE

Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, while I was teaching high school algebra, my students would occasionally ask why one of their classmates had committed a particularly heinous act. My answer was always the same, “Because they were taught, at an early age, by the most important people in their world, that it was OK to do so.”

I would then follow up with this anecdote: “Suppose a child is born into a family of thieves.  Day after day this child hears his parents discuss their thievery and observes them involved in thievery. And this child may even be taught some basic skills in the art as he toddles through the house. Now skip forward to this child’s first day of school. He steals another child’s lunch, is caught by the teacher and has punishment pronounced upon him. Can you imagine the look of incredulity on that child’s face? This veritable stranger is telling the child that his actions are wrong when the most important people in his life have taught him just the opposite. And, thus, you witness the beginnings of a sociopath.”

Now you know the basics of this novel – only it’s not thievery, it’s murder. A five-year-old child is taken from his mother and is taught to be a murderer. However, the character is not being taught to become a hired assassin. The intent is for the child to be a cold-blooded, glory-in-death, kill-for-the-sake-of-killing murderer – plain and simple.

Now, I am not an aficionado of the horror genre. I do not read Stephen King. I do not watch slasher movies. The promotional blurb for the book led me to believe that it was another genre entirely. That being said, the author plied his craft well. This book is the stuff of nightmares. 

I have never been so confused after 30 pages of a book in my life. I couldn’t tell if the first person POV was being told by a male or a female, even if the character’s name was Jack. I couldn’t tell if I was reading a novel with supernatural elements involving the Devil or if I was reading an allegory that made Cyrus the equivalent of the Devil. And I couldn’t tell if the lead character had any level of sanity remaining or if I was being doomed to 265 pages containing the ramblings of a mind-muddled, drug addicted psychopath.

This book had me constantly off balance. The author’s style went from choppy and blocky, with one- to four-word phrasing, to smooth as glass in the turn of a page. The chapters flipped from current day to flashbacks. I emotionally flipped from wanting the bad guys to die to being vastly relieved that they survived. Initially, I could only read this novel in 30-page blocks, interspersing it with sections of novels that had a psychologically kinder nature.

And then it all began to make sense – metaphysical, supernatural, allegorical, psychological sense. Oh, there were still some scenes that had me shaking my head in confusion. And there were still sections of dialog that read as if the author had pulled random words out of a revolving drum and just stuck them end-to-end. But a change in my perspective had occurred – a PIVOT of attitude and realization.

That being said, perhaps you, the reader, are starting this book with the idea that our psychologically flawed and scarred main character will PIVOT from profound evil to gratifying goodness. Perhaps you hope that our main character will PIVOT from the path of destruction to some form of happily-ever-after, facing a glorious sunrise and riding off into a magnificent sunset. If you are a reader who needs these types of PIVOTs to occur, then perhaps you need to consider another book.

But if you can put those fairy tales away and persevere through the initial confusion, by the last sentence of this book, you will be facing an intriguing definition of the concept of “good,” and you will be facing a frustrating psychological cliffhanger. And you will definitely be facing an entirely new perspective into the old homily that says “Out of the frying pan, into the fire.”

I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program.  That fact did not, in any way, influence my opinion of the book.

Cover image from Goodreads.

A Witch In Time

6678880

 4 STARS OUT OF 5

This is the 6th entry in the Bewitching Mystery series, with a storyline that begins less than a month following the conclusion of the previous novel, Where There’s A Witch. Like its predecessors, this is definitely not a standalone novel. The previous entries in the series have built considerable backstory that is necessary to the comprehension of all that happens in this tale. 

This storyline did not contain one big mystery to solve as in the previous books. Yes, there was a death in the early pages of the novel, but our protagonist, Maggie O’Neil, was nowhere in the vicinity of the body this time. In fact, the death does not seem suspicious at all so Maggie is not concerned, even though she was involved with the murder of the decedent’s girlfriend several months ago.

As the story progresses, we are caught up primarily in Maggie’s and Marcus’s new relationship and with the birth of Mel’s twins. But as we spend the next two days in the hospital with Maggie, we begin to notice little things, little spider webs of information snaking out into the atmosphere. In fact, there are a lot of little things that keep piling up on top of each other, seemingly unconnected but too close in timing for comfort. However, since most of it seems to concern babies, we scratch our heads and read on.

Essentially we get lulled into thinking that the author has skipped out of the paranormal mystery genre into the area of contemporary romance. We are happy for Maggie and Marcus; we want to kick Tom’s behind; we really want to wring Greg’s neck; and we get worried about Steff and Dan. 

Then it all snaps back when Maggie and Marcus accidentally find themselves at another murder scene. When Maggie joins her empathic abilities with Marcus’s channeling abilities, the various spider webs of information begin to make more sense and it’s game on to identify the murderer – actually both murderers.

This book is a sleeper, seemingly engrossed in new romances, newborn babies, troubled lovers and cheating spouses. But, in reality, all those little plot threads are simply holding the ingredients needed to mix up a good old-fashioned murder.

Cover Photo Courtesy Goodreads