Spuddie's Reviews > A Cast-Off Coven

A Cast-Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell
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's review
Jan 30, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

#2 in the so-called "Witchcraft" series featuring Lily Ivory, a witch and vintage clothing shop owner in San Francisco. Lily is asked by her employee Maya, who is also a student at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, to come to the school and look around on behalf of the woman who runs the school. She's offered a chest full of vintage clothing they found in a closet, but hopes Lily can use her powers to find out about a visitation by a suspected ghost in the bell tower of the school and perhaps do something about it. The noises and ghostly presence has ramped up recently and become disruptive.

While at the school, a man falls--or is pushed--down the bell tower steps on the exact site of a suicide several decades earlier. The natural conclusion drawn by many is that the ghost killed Jerry Becker--a rich big-wig with lots of money invested in the school, as well as a daughter, Andromeda, who attends there. Lily is pretty sure that Becker's killer was human, and since he wasn't well-liked and had lots of money, there are plenty of people with motive. Further investigation leads her to believe there is indeed an evil presence at the school, but not from a ghost--rather, from a demon that someone has summoned.

Along the way, Lily has to deal once again with Aidan Rhodes, a powerful witch who makes her uncomfortable on several levels, and Max Carmichael, a journalist whom she went out with once and who definitely interests her (and vice versa) but who is a bit of an enigma and who finds her whole witchiness very discomfiting. She also encounters several other men who briefly caught Lily's attention as the story progressed.

I enjoyed the book for the most part, although at times I'm not sure if the author is trying to pass Lily off as a witch...I mean, a real witch, or if she's got her living in some type of a paranormal world. I suppose given that she has a goblin familiar who disguises himself as her pet potbellied pig, I really shouldn't take any of it too seriously, right? LOL This should probably be classified as light urban fantasy rather than mystery. There are things that were semi-accurate, though--and some of it just accurate enough to perhaps confuse people who aren't familiar with *actual* witch/Pagan practice and belief.

The one other gripe I have is that the author's propensity to make every man Lily met or came across a potential love interest, however briefly, was really annoying. And of course there are at least a couple of permanent romantic interests to keep Lily pulled in two directions, which is one thing that has put me off many so-called mystery series that started with promise and then devolve into romantic baloney, with the mysteries taking a back seat--no, more like being hogtied in the trunk while the romance and sexual tension steer the series. (The whodunit in this one was sort of a no-brainer.)

That said, I like the writing style, I like Lily and her shop and her circle of friends for the most part, and Blackwell really is able to provide a wonderful sense of place, making the city of San Francisco one of the main characters in the book. I also love Oscar to pieces! LOL I'll give the series one more read, and if the next book is obviously continuing down the romance road, as much as I like the other parts of the book, I'll probably stop there.

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