Series: WISHCRAFT MYSTERY SERIES
Plot Type: Chicklit Cozy Mystery with Witches
Ratings: V3; S2; H3
Publisher and Titles: Obsidian
It Takes a Witch (1/2012)
A Witch Before Dying (8/2012)
The Good, the Bad, & the Witchy (4/2013)
This blog entry was revised and updated on 10/5/12 to include a review of the second book in the series, A Witch Before Dying. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of book 1:
BOOK 2: A Witch Before Dying
As the story begins, Darcy is hired by Elodie Keaton to clean out her mother's home prior to putting it up for sale. Patrice Keaton disappeared a year and a half ago, shortly before Elodie was to have been married. As Darcy learns more about the troubled lives of Elodie and her mother, she discovers that most of their woes can be traced to the Anicula amulet, a magic-imbued black opal that allows anyone within close proximity the ability to grant both harmful and benign wishes for themselves or others—both Crafters and mundanes. As the main plot plays out, Darcy learns just how dangerous the wish-granting Anicula can be and what damage it has done to people in the Village.
In the meantime, a burglar has been breaking into Crafters' homes in the Enchanted Village at an alarming rate, always rummaging through belongings, but never taking anything. Nick, who is the Village's new police chief, is at his wit's end trying to keep up with the investigations, but he has been unable to catch the perpetrator. Another story line relates to Aunt Ve and Sylar's upcoming wedding, which ultimately may not be a happy event for either of them. The story lines begin independently, but soon begin to interweave.
Darcy's romance with Nick takes a baby step forward as they share their first passionate kiss, and, with behind-the-scenes assistance from Darcy, Harper hooks up with Marcus Debrowski, the lawyer we met in book 1.
One humorous story thread is taken directly from Seinfeld's final season--the episode in which Jerry dated a girl who looked beautiful in bright light, but scary ugly in shadows. That's exactly the ongoing situation with Andreus Woodshall, a sometimes handsome roving gem dealer who once dated Patrice and who has an interest in the Anicula.
Once again, illogical events are numerous, with characters acting independently without confiding in friends and having temporary memory black-outs when they can't remember some bit of essential information until just the right time in the action. Still, if paranormal cozy mysteries are your cup of tea, you'll probably enjoy this oe.
This light and fluffy series is set in the Enchanted Village, a small-townish, witch-themed neighborhood in Salem, Massachusetts, where twenty-something sisters, Darcy and Harper Merriweather, have come to live with their Aunt Velma (aka Aunt Ve) after the death of their father. The girls' late mother (Ve's sister) was a witch, but the girls were never told of their witchy heritage—until now, that is. In this world, witchery is hereditary, and each witch family has a particular specialty (e.g., Herbcrafter, Numbercrafter, Curecrafter, Vaporcrafter).
If a Crafter marries a mortal, the situation gets complicated: "He or she had two options. One was to reveal the Craft to the spouse. In that case, the Crafter forfeited his or her powers...and became a Halfcrafter (...essentially...a mortal)....The other option was...to keep the Craft a secret from a spouse, thus leading a difficult life of lies and magical subterfuge, but retaining the ability to perform magic. The clueless spouse in that instance did not become a Halfcrafter, and held no knowledge of the Craft at all." (A Witch Before Dying, p. 37) Further complicating things, the children of a marriage between a Crafter and a human are full Crafters, with the talents of their Crafter parent. In a marriage between two Crafters of differing types, their child is born with both abilities, but one is much stronger than the other. Different children of the same union have different skill strengths.
Witches are required to abide by certain rules, chief among which is that they are not allowed to let any humans know that witchcraft exists. Witches who break that law suffer sever consequences. The witchcraft laws are enforced by a mysterious entity—a female known as the Elder—who summons the lawbreaker to a tree in the middle of the woods where she appears to them as a light with a voice. Wishcrafters must abide by some additional rules: "not interfering with life and death; and the fact that we can't grant our own wishes—or the wishes of other Wishcrafters." (A Witch Before Dying, p. 16)
If you enjoy reading humorous witchy mysteries, here are some similar series. Click on a series title to go to my review: Madeline Alt (BEWITCHING MYSTERIES); Annette Blair (VINTAGE MAGIC); Linda Wisdom (JAZZ TREMAINE/HEX SERIES); Victoria Laurie (GHOST HUNTER MYSTERIES); Heather Webber (LUCY VALENTINE).
The conflict is set in motion when a local woman, Alexandra Shively, is murdered and Aunt Ve's boyfriend, Sylar Dewitt, is arrested for the crime. The Crafters believed that Alexandra was a seeker (a normal human who wants to be a witch), but she always claimed have a witchy heritage, and she managed to antagonize most of the Crafters in town with her cocky behavior. Everyone is sure that Sylar is innocent, but at first there are no other suspects, so Darcy and Harper begin to investigate the case themselves. Darcy is the primary focus of the plot as she makes friends with Nick Sawyer, a handsome widower and a former highway patrol officer, and his daughter, Mimi. As Darcy investigates, she keeps running into Nick, and they begin a tentative friendship that has some romantic overtones. Eventually, the murderer is caught, Darcy and Nick move a few more steps into their relationship, and Harper finds a possible boyfriend of her own. One story line that runs through the book is Darcy's curiosity about whether Aunt Ve's cat and/or Harper's dog are familiars—human spirits in animal bodies. The answer to that question is a stunner that comes at the end of the story.