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Magic Can Be Murder

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  640 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Nola's not much of a witch--she can work only a few useless spells, like the one that lets her spy on people. But there's no spell for keeping her crazy mother--who hears voices and is a magnet for witch-hunters--out of trouble. The two flee from town to town until the day Nola magically witnesses a murder. Which is bad enough, but worse is that the murderer may frame Nola ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 2000)
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May 26, 2014 Aswierz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magic Can Be Murder Review
When thinking of magic and witches the stereotypical mean, warted, big nosed, long haired, ugly, heartless witch comes to mind. This witch usually has a broom, spell book, and a big spell pot. However, in the book Magic Can Be Murder, by Vivian Vande Velde, I liked how the two witches are nothing like that. Nola, the teen witch, and her mother are both witches. They aren't the most beautiful people on earth, but they are nothing like the stereotypical gross and mean wi
May 29, 2015 Cait rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
And my streak of horrible books continues!

Basically my main problem with this book is this: Nola is literally too stupid to live. There is a difference between characters making misinformed choices and having to deal with the consequences... And the author MAKING the character make such STUPID decisions that NO ONE would be so dumb as to make, just to progress the story the way they want it to go. It's weak and amateurish writing. Every single plot turn or advancement was made because Nola made
I love Vivian Vande Velde, but I would not consider this book to be on the same level as her other works. It fell a little flat for me. The main character brings all of her troubles on herself-- instead of enjoying the story, I just kept thinking that Nola was being silly and that none of it was necessary. The characters and relationships were not fleshed out enough to make up for this. It was a fine idea, and it could have been interesting, but it needed more substance.
Sarah Crawford
Feb 09, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nola is a young witch (17) who, when she was younger, didn't understand that magic is to be kept secret, away from others; otherwise, a person can be accused of being an witch and end up dead. Her mother is also a witch and they have to keep moving from town to town to avoid anyone finding out about their abilities.

One day Nola has a friend over and performs a magic ritual in front of a friend and that causes her mother and her to leave for other parts immediately. As the years go on, her mother
May 06, 2009 Kellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a cute book. I recommend it to anyone who is going on a trip who wants to read a book of magic and a little romance. This book is kind of small and for a younger audience but its funny and enjoyable for the short time it takes to read it!
Apr 17, 2016 Kristi rated it it was ok
This book felt very much like a YA, "perfect ending" fairy tale novel.

The main character Nola did spend most of the book making poor choices and having to make even more desperate choices to try and cover for what she had already done. The basic idea of the story, of a young witch having to come to grips with her powers and learn how to manage them and accept the consequences, sounded interesting to me. But by about halfway into the book, I spent the whole time I was reading waiting for somethin
Aug 24, 2015 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars, because despite not being the best YA book, I read it super fast and it was the perfect length for my flight from Detroit to Philly over the weekend. And it kept me entertained and sane during a hellish flight filled with unhappy children. It gets the extra half star just for that.

I liked most of the characters, and though there were no unexpected "twists", the plot was interesting and kept me engaged. I liked that because the heroine had no idea what she was doing half the time, the
Kate Brown
Jul 29, 2014 Kate Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
"Magic Can Be Murder" is a wonderful book and could definitely be used as a read aloud. The plot moves very fast and I never found myself being bored with what was happening. Nola and her mother are witches. They move from place to place but are able to survive by doing housework, farming, and chores for different employers. When Nola casts a spell in a bucket of water at her last job, she must return and dump out the bucket before it is discovered. Unfortunately a murder occurs and Nola must st ...more
Rani B
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Dec 09, 2011 Kenny rated it really liked it
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Lisa the Librarian
Apr 16, 2011 Lisa the Librarian rated it liked it
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A cute and fun book about magic. The time and place are not mentioned but you get the feel of a ti me long ago. Nola the main character is a young witch who can see shadow forms in water with a persons hair. She travels with her mother seeking work and food. They are always on the move, and on the run from someone discovering they are witches.

Nola is just seventeen and on her own with her mom who is a bit quirky to say the least. They've had hard times and Nola doesn't see herself as a beautifu
Book Geek
My first love, as a kid, were fantasy novels set in other worlds or in a world suspiciously like medieval Europe. As I grew older, I moved and broadened my horizons, but I still have a weak spot for medieval based literature. This book sounded like something I’d like.

MAGIC CAN BE MURDER is a fast, cute read that fits the bill. I will be the first to admit, I read this while at home sick, so parts were probably lost on me. That being said, the book was well written and the murder portion was also
Salimata Konate
Jul 06, 2012 Salimata Konate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book because it has the perfect combination of mysterary and funny bits.Also that it has to do with true love. For example,Even tho Gavin noticed she was a witch and not that atractive he still loved her for her and for how she looked like.Anthor example is when Noala mother had smacked noala in the back of her head so she can say something.
Somebody that would like this book is someone that likes mysterary,romance,and funny bits.For example in the book they try to find out wh
Apr 26, 2016 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nola is a witch. She tries not to do magic to keep her and her mother safe but as her mother starts loosing her mind Nola uses spells to keep them out of trouble despite the fact that it just seems to get them in more trouble--as involved in a murder. Nola leaves a spell running and goes back to fix it so that no one will blame her or mother for the murder. The problem is she gets stuck in the middle of the murder investigation. This book is short, a fast read and a whole lot of fun.
Oct 17, 2011 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, humor
Clever mystery, with humor, in an interesting medieval time period, where people really can do magic. Nola and her mother move from town to town trying to stay ahead of the authorities who want to burn them or ban them when they learn that Nola can "bespell" water via witchcraft. It's really just a simple spell, toss a hair into water and she sees what that person is doing at the moment. But when she witnesses a murder and tries to extricate herself from being involved, things just get worse. Ok ...more
Janice (Janicu)
Pre-teen fantasy book. Nola is a witch and can do small spells like watch people using water with a hair placed in it. She is constantly worried: her mother hears voices and argues out loud with them. Nola knows what people do to witches so she and her mother wander from town to town doing odd jobs, never staying in one place long enough to be accused. One day Nola witnesses a murder during her scrying spell and things start to change. She realises that the murderer may try to frame them for the ...more
May 30, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
What can I say? I like Vivian Vande Velde--she's a good light read and her books always keep me entertained!
Kathryn Adam-Hurst
I enjoy reading Vivian Vande Velde books. This one was enjoyable and had a very happy ending!
It was okay, not really sure why I didn't enjoy it...
Aug 20, 2015 Tammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Vivian Vande Velde's sense of humor!
Kathy Wawer
May 19, 2015 Kathy Wawer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, magic
Slow and no depth to characters.
Jul 08, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was my favorite book for a while!
Mar 14, 2014 Hayley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing and interesting i would read it again.
This book was reminiscent of some of her earlier novels such as Dragon's Bait and The Conjurer Princess. The main character Nola is well meaning but gets her self deeper and deeper into trouble through lies and mistakes which is similar to Alys in Dragon's Bait and Lylene in The Conjurer Princess. I liked the book but I did feel that it was short and a rushed, it would have done better with a bit more space to describe everything more.
Sandra Strange
Charming novel and a fun read, this book involves a girl and her mother, both witches, trying to escape the persecution (and death) that comes if their magic becomes evident. In the course of trying to repair a bit of carelessness, the girl magically witnesses a murder. Her efforts to see justice done, escape being burned as a witch, and help the investigator whom she comes to love are comical and suspenseful.
Nov 20, 2010 VeeDawn rated it liked it
This is the story of a witch and the problems she encounters just trying to get by unnoticed in the regular world. It was a pretty fun quick read. A little scary for my 5th grade students--one of them asked me to read it because it was so scary she couldn't make it through the book. I'm not sure it is really a story for 5th graders anyway. The themes are more adult, but it is romantic at the end.
Nola isn't much of a witch. She can work only a few useless spells, like the one that lets her spy on people by enchanting a bucket of water. But there's no spell for keeping her mother-who hears voices and is a magnet for witch-hunters-out of trouble. The two of them evade the authorities by traveling from town to town, taking odd jobs and moving on-until the day Nola magically witnesses a murder
Oct 12, 2013 Elzbeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nola and her mother are witches, traveling the country looking for work, never staying in one place for fear of their powers being discovered. When Nola accidentally leaves magic out to be seen by the last family she worked for, she frantically searches for a way to return get rid of it. Nola magically witness a murder and gets caught in a web of conspiracy, murder, lies an love.
Aug 05, 2011 Jilane rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, fantasy, murder
Throughout the entire book I kept thinking to myself, "If you tell a lie, you have to tell another to cover that one, then another, and another. . . " That is exactly what happened to Nola in this book. Luckily for her (and thanks to the author's ability to affect changes), it all works out happily ever after. I wasn't impressed.
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Vivian Vande Velde (born 1951, currently residing in Rochester, New York) is an American author who writes books primarily aimed at young adults.

Her novels and short story collections usually have some element of horror or fantasy, but are primarily humorous. Her book Never Trust a Dead Man (1999) received the 2000 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She says that she really likes to write for
More about Vivian Vande Velde...

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