WHAT PRICE THIS FAVOR?
For once, I found the title of a fictional work easily understandable and clearly pertinent to the story line. Lily Ivory dons a VELVET cloak that is not only giving off paranormal vibrations but is virtually calling to her. When she secures the clasp at her throat, Lily experiences a VISION in which she witnesses a witch being burned at the stake. And thus, we have the title: A Vision in Velvet.
Backing up about an hour or so, we find Lily purchasing a battered old trunk full of dry-rotted clothing – and a well-kept velvet cloak – from an antiques dealer by the name of Sebastian Crowley. Sebastian claims to have acquired the trunk from the relative of an older man who is trying to clean up his condo. Supposedly, the trunk originated in Boston around or before the time of the Salem witch trials and was brought west during the California Gold Rush. Feeling the psychic vibrations from the cloak, Lily purchases the trunk and its contents.
The moment she fastens the clasp of the cloak, Lily sees the vision of the witch burning and she hears someone screaming the word “deliverance.” Then she feels as if her fingers are burning off as she observes the witch’s ashes being scooped up by a set of hands positioned just in front of her eyes. Forced out of the vision when her worried friends unclasp the cloak, she remembers that she, herself, has no fingerprints. She was born without them, and her fingertips look as if the prints were burned off.
Shortly thereafter, the antiques dealer is shot to death in the park near Lily’s shop. His body is found beneath an extremely old and dying oak tree that the park authority has slated for removal. Not believing in coincidences, Lily decides to investigate the provenance of the trunk and the cloak, hoping to find a clue to the identity of the murderer and a clue to the identities of the people in her vision.
With Sailor along to help with a little after hours B&E into the antique store, they learn the identity of the trunk’s seller, Bart Woolsey. Upon talking to him and a college professor who specializes in witchcraft as a religion, Lily determines that “deliverance” is not a concept but the name of the witch who was burned. She also learns that, from the pyre, Deliverance put a love curse on the Woolsey family, a curse that seems to have transcended generations. Based on this information as well as evidence discovered at the murder scene, Lily and her familiar, Oscar, go back to that dying oak tree for answers.
Now, the promotional blurb for this book clearly states that Oscar disappears sometime during the story. That word “disappear” is an understatement for what really happens to Oscar when they get to the tree. At that point, the plotline shifts sideways, with Lily’s focus completely on rescuing Oscar, rather than on the solution to the murder. Even the store is essentially left to run itself.
Juliet Blackwell has crafted an intense 6th entry in her Witchcraft Mystery series. Once Oscar disappears, the pace of the novel quickens and so does the danger to Lily. And by the end of the novel, you are not really sure if there has been an HEA or not. Blackwell has not left us with a cliffhanger, but she has left us with far more than just a hook leading to another adventure.
Too many characters have classified their “help” as favors that require payback. One supernatural character was vanquished far too easily. And one major character, in particular, may become more of a nightmare to Lily than the burning witch in her “vision in velvet.”
Cover Art From Goodreads