Book Review – A Cast-Off Coven

I’ve seen several bloggers give reviews of books they enjoy, but I’ve always shied away from doing “official” reviews, because I don’t really question why I enjoy something (or not), I just know I do.

However, in order to branch out from talking about myself all the time, I’m going to give this a go.  I’ll begin with one review a month and see where it goes from there.  I can read a book in a couple of days, but with the other demands of trying to get published – plus everything else going on in my day-job/personal life – I’d hate to promise something and not deliver.

Anyway, without further delay, let’s talk about A Cast-Off Coven…

The main character, Lily Ivory, is a true witch who owns a vintage clothing store in the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco.  In this, the second book in the series, students from a local art institution ask Lily to check out the paranormal activity that’s been going on at the school.  In exchange, she’s promised a trunk full of vintage clothes.  However, when she gets to the school, she finds a dead body; a death that bears a striking resemblance to a suicide that took place at the school years ago.  With the help of her friends, Lily sets out to solve the mystery.

Lily is a fun, intelligent character.  Because of her gift, she felt ousted most of her life, and finds it hard to accept that she now has people in her life who not only accept her witchy traits, but actually find them fascinating.  She even has a boyfriend, Max, who is a journalist and self-proclaimed myth buster.  He doesn’t believe in magic or witchcraft, but is very attracted to Lily, so that adds a nice bit of tension.

What I really enjoy about her relationship with Max is that it’s monogamous.  I am very romantic, but not always a fan of books that feature a love triangle.  I realize that, as humans, we’re sexual creatures and will continue to be attracted to people even when in a committed relationship.  However, when someone vacillates between two beaus for years (or several books), it begins to bore me.  As my dad was fond of saying “shit or get off the pot”.  So even though this is only the second book in the series, I like that it seems that Lily is only interested in Max.  Again, she finds herself attracted to some other characters, but by and large, I’d say she’s a one-man-witch.  Hopefully they’ll be able to make it work.

Like any good witch, Lily has a familiar named Oscar.  However, whereas most familiars assume the body of a cat when around non-magic folk, Oscar changes into a potbellied pig.  The whole pig thing adds a fresh element of humor.  Lily’s friends — Maya, a clerk at the store; Bronwyn, a Wiccan who sells herbs and potions in the back of Lily’s shop; Detective Romero, homicide inspector for the SFPD; and Susan Rogers, fashion editor for the SF Chronicle — help round out the cast of characters.  They’re supportive of Lily and provide avenues for her to learn the clues needed to solve the mysteries she becomes involved with.  Each bit of information they feed her is done in a way that isn’t blatantly screaming “YOU’LL NEED THIS INFO TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY”, which I think is a major kudos to the author, Juliet Blackwell.

Juliet Blackwell is a member of my writers group.  She’s very nice, very welcoming, and throws an excellent zombie-themed Halloween party!  She writes another mystery series under this name, and one more under a separate pen name.  I’ve read one of the books in her Art Lover Series, and while I thought the writing was good, something about this series draws me more.  Maybe it’s because I feel a strong affinity to Wicca and the more positive sides of the occult.  Whatever the reason, I found myself unwilling to put this book down for very long.

So that’s it.  I truly enjoyed this book, am anxious to read the next one, and will probably even look for the first in the series.  If you’re into mysteries, and aren’t offended by witchcraft or other pagan traditions, check out the book.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dana
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 09:44:37

    Well, I’m a huge fan of that Juliet Blackwell gal and all of her series. Don’t know if I could choose a favorite, but I sure love this one! The details on the vintage clothes were wonderful and while it’s a cozy, it’s also got a lot of darkness and depth. CREEPY big bad in this one!!!

    Reply

  2. Kilt Kilpatrick
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 10:02:38

    Thanks for the terrific review, Alyx! Juliet Blackwell is so smart, fun and just plain wicked, it’s no wonder her books are the same… = P

    -Kilt Kilpatrick

    Reply

  3. Mysti Berry
    Dec 26, 2010 @ 14:34:54

    I love how she captures the *real* Bay Area, not some television-slick imitation of it. Go Juliet, and I can’t wait for the next Lily Ivory story…

    Reply

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