Thursday, July 16, 2009

SECONDHAND SPIRITS by Juliet Blackwell (New American Library)

For all wannabe witches or just those who are curious about witchy things, this is a fun and funny book. Lily Ivory is a semi-witch who is not sure about her powers. She never finished training with her grandmother and she finds herself in situations that make her wish she had. Her witchy ways have made her feel left out and alien, but she is determined to make friends and become "normal" by opening a legitimate business in San Francisco. She wants only to be accepted by people and so she tries to hide her witchy ways, but, of course, that is impossible. She is who she is. Aunt Cora's Closet, a vintage clothing store, seems to be a natural for her. Her store is a success and she is slowly becoming part of a community. Naturally, though, her paranormal abilities lead her on various excursions—both funny and dangerous—into the otherworldy spheres of reality. Lily loves her store because she can sense vibrations from the past from the clothing and jewelry, and she has a knack for fashion that attracts customers, both innocent and malevolent. Aunt Cora's Closet is a hit, but when a client is murdered and a child disappears from the Bay Area nearby, she may be the only one who can unravel the crime. Two men, one a sexy "myth buster" and the other a powerful male witch, offer complications and drama.

All the characters here are likable and pretty well drawn. Murder aside, this is a good, fun story. As is true with all of us, Lily has to confront her abilities and weaknesses and try to find a way to live meaningfully and compassionately with her God-given traits. For those who want to learn a little bit about the paranormal, this is a good way to do it. It's not overloaded with spells and magic, but it gives the reader some insight into the ways of those who have psychic abilities and the ways in which invisible reality interacts with the visible.

—Diane Esterly

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