Today marks an important event in The Traveling Reader’s calendar because today is the debut for Mystery Monday. Certainly, the start of the year deserves a resounding bang and a brand new blog feature. At the start of every week, I’m going to be reviewing mystery books, cozies most especially. Hope you are as excited as I am. 🙂
And as far as debuts go, we are starting off with a spine-tingling piece of murder.
If you’re looking for a fluffy read, then don’t try this, as it will only seduce you with how incredibly engaging it is.
Lily Ivory is a free-spirited witch who has lived like a nomad, traipsing from one world capital to another. As a child and a budding witch, she was staying under the tutelage and guidance of her grandma Graciela, an accomplished witch with a Mexican/Cuban origin, in a small Texan town. Unfortunately, before she could complete her training, an incident threatened to divulge her status as a witch (not that others haven’t noticed the peculiar events that seemed to happen when she’s around) so she had to scram before they could burn her. After years of being on the road, Lily has finally decided to settle and take up a business of selling vintage garments in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. In a relatively short time, Lily’s vintage clothing and curio shop, Aunt Cora’s Closet, bloomed and boomed under her care. With a handy talent for spotting rare vintage finds and outfitting people with clothes that flatter them, the witch has finally found a place she could call home while keeping her secret under wraps. Being a newcomer, Lily was a bit hesitant to open up to people lest she be outcast (not again) when they find out her true nature. But fate must have something in store for Lily when she had to use her powers to get to the bottom of a mystery involving a dead client, missing children and a powerful spirit.
I literally knocked myself on the head (only a bit as I read this book through kindle which was only lent to me..hehe) when I finished Secondhand Spirits. I was only expecting a tepid storytelling peppered with details that make it a cozy mystery. Boy, was I wrong. The book, being the first in Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mystery Series, did not only lay the foundation for the rest of the books but it has suckered me in through the crisp dialogues, descriptions and a solid mystery case. Lily Ivory is quite a character herself. She’s a professional witch – one who knows what she can and can’t do – yet doesn’t hesitate to call in help from other paranormal experts. I truly truly like hearing her voice as she narrates the lovely time she has running her store plus meeting (and trusting) new friends. She’s smart, decisive yet is not too perfect not to be plagued by bouts of insecurity. After all, one has to be very careful when dealing with paranormal deviates as they operate on Maslow’s law – if something could go wrong, it really could in ways you can’t and won’t imagine.
Another thing that endeared this book to me was the romance. It wasn’t love-at-first-sight nor a forced occurrence. It naturally flowed with the story that I was so caught up in it long before I realized what’s happening. You’d really ache for Lily to find her HEA (happy ever after, that is). Max Carmichael was a reluctant hero and rescuer. He was a mythbuster after all with a natural distaste for anything magical or weird so being in like/lust with a witch is something he was loathe to do. But what could he do if Lily Ivory turned out to be more complicated and likeable than a potion brewed under the moonlight?
So I repeat.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy read with no flesh or bones, then don’t read this. But if you’re prepared to invest your time, effort and heart in a world of vintage clothes, strong female bonds, romance and magical mysteries, then this one’s for you. Read Secondhand Spirits and you won’t regret it. I should know as I’m now researching more about SanFo just for kicks. 😉
P.S. For more of Lily Ivory and her hippie gang, read my review of the second book in this series – A Cast-off Coven on BookTrib:
Mystery Monday Logo and Art © The Traveling Reader, 2011. Book cover image © Juliet Blackwell & Signet.
You can find out more about this series on:
Series Info – A Witchcraft Mystery Series
Author’s Website – http://julietblackwell.net/
Author’s Blog – http://paranormalartmysteries.blogspot.com/
Twitter – @JulietBlackwell
Goodreads – Juliet Blackwell on Goodreads