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Friday, February 18, 2011


Author: Madelyn Alt
Plot Type: CH
Ratings: V3, S2, H3
Publisher and Titles: Berkley:
     The Trouble with Magic (2006);
     A Charmed Death (2006);
     Hex Marks the Spot (2007);
     No Rest for the Wiccan (2008);
     Where There’s a Witch (2009);
     A Witch in Time (2010);
     Home for a Spell (2011)         

In the newest book (Home for a Spell), Maggie and Marcus  find a dead body floating in a pool at an apartment complex where Maggie had planned to sign a lease. Complications arise when it turns out that friends and relatives have connections to the murdered man. On the romantic front, Maggie (with her broken ankle in a cast) doesn't want to be a burden to Marcus, so she decides that a bit of independence is in order. Everything works itself out, of course, but the crime at the center of this murder case is quite a bit more smutty than the usual wrongdoing that we find in this series.

     This series could almost be classified as cozy, because it involves an amateur sleuth, at least one dead body per book (no bloody murders—the bodies just show up), gossipy townsfolk, and a somewhat bungling police force, but this sleuth also has two boyfriends, a group of girlfriends, and enough wardrobe description to push it into chick lit (not to mention the chick lit cover art).

     The series heroine—Maggie O’Neill—is an empath and a sensitive. She can sense the emotions of the living and the spirits of the dead. Maggie lives in small-town Stony Mill, Indiana, and works at Enchantments Antiques and Fine Gifts, which is run by her friend Felicity Dow, an English witch. In book 1, Maggie recognizes that she has special powers and joins the local ghost hunters group where she meets a group of new friends.

     Maggie’s love interests (limited to long, romantic kisses) are Tom Fielding, a handsome, buttoned-down police detective who is uncomfortable both with Maggie’s friends and with her empathic abilities, and Marcus Quinn, a sexy, tattooed, motorcycle-riding medium who wants Maggie to learn to appreciate her supernatural talents. Which one would you choose?  (She finally makes up her mind in the fifth book.)

     The love scenes become increasing frustrating for Maggie and her guy because every single time they hit the sheets, her cell phone rings, or the cat jumps on the bed, or someone knocks on the door, or…or…or! Long story short: this is a no-sex series. Kind of refreshing, actually.

     Maggie’s friends and family are also involved in each story, particularly her interfering, disapproving mother (you just want to slap her!) and her spoiled, gossipy sister (Mel).

     In each book, a murder is committed in Stony Mill, and Maggie gets herself into one dangerous situation after another as she searches for the killer. The thematic arc for the series implies that (for unknown reasons) dark forces are converging on Stony Mill. In each book, Maggie’s powers become more developed, but she must work hard to separate harmless psychic clues from meaningful ones.

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