OH, TO BE NORMAL!
4 STARS OUT OF 5
This is the 1st entry in the Witchcraft Mystery series that, at the time of this review, contains a total of five books. This first entry introduces Lily Ivory, a natural-born witch who has just moved to San Francisco from Texas – by way of a nearly decade-long exile in Europe and Asia.
Juliet Blackwell is quite coy in the way she develops the character of Lily. She introduces us to her as a not-so-young adult, 31 years old, in fact. She has been in San Francisco for about six weeks, having just opened a vintage clothing store called Aunt Cora’s Closet. Within the first two pages we are introduced to her witchy nature and are given one allusion into her past – one spoken sentence and one internal thought.
But unlike many other novelists, Blackwell does not then create a series of flashback scenes with which to bring the reader up to date on the significant events in Lily’s past. She just continues to slip in a word here, a sentence there, until a pattern emerges – a pattern that shows Lily has not only been persecuted and bullied as a child for being different, but that she has actually been criminally prosecuted in relation to her talents. Even by the end of the book, we don’t have all the pertinent facts, all the significant backstory, but we have enough – for now – to understand what is driving her actions in this particular story.
Now as far as the mystery is concerned, there’s death and kidnapping, strangling and burning, and all sorts of assorted other mayhem, all related to witchcraft and voodoo – and Lily. And the perpetrator of said mayhem seems very obvious very early in the story, which is usually the kiss of death for a novel in the hands of a dedicated mystery reader. But just wait – cool the frustration and be patient. This author does not subscribe to Occam’s Razor!
Neither does this author subscribe to a jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end. However, there are still plenty of mysteries to resolve in future entries in the series. Such as, what really happened back in Texas? Just who is Aidan Rhodes and what does he really want from Lily? What caused the death of Max Carmichael’s wife? What is Oscar really, besides being a goblin familiar? And, just who is going to die next? Inquiring minds want to know.
Cover art from Goodreads.