Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

Secondhand Spirits: A Witchcraft Mystery by Juliet BlackwellWhen the first installment of the Witchcraft Mystery series begins, Lily Ivory finds herself taken aback when Aidan Rhodes, self-proclaimed male witch, walks into her vintage clothing store, Aunt Cora’s Closet. Making the incident even stranger, Aidan gives Lily a gift: a gnomish creature to serve as her familiar. Considering that Lily endeavors to keep her identity as a witch more or less secret, she finds the whole encounter a bit disturbing. Complicating matters, she now has another creature to care for: the gnome begs to stay with Lily, transforming into a pot-bellied pig to appear as a pet, which Lily names Oscar.

Leaving Oscar in the care of her business partner, Bronwyn, Lily and her friend Maya go to the home of an elderly woman who wishes to sell all of her old clothing. Able to sense spirits and vibrations from old garments, Lily experiences a very intense reaction to one dress, around the same time that she hears the cry of what she believes to be La Llorona, a demon who steals children out of the grief of her own loss. As she expects, a child from the neighborhood she is visiting disappears. Resolving to aid in the search for the missing child, Lily realizes she needs the help of Aidan Rhodes. In addition to her task, Lily also has to contend with mythbuster Max Carmichael, as well as the police, when one of her clients dies suspiciously.

This thoroughly enjoyable novel satisfies on multiple levels. Succeeding as a mystery, the author also provides an in-depth look into the magical basis of the universe she creates for the book. An engaging heroine at the forefront of the story, Lily leads a cast of likeable and unique characters easy to distinguish from one another. Skillfully depicting Lily as someone who has always felt herself an outsider trying to find a place in the world where she can belong, Blackwell imbues the narrative with an almost tactile sense and feeling of the city of San Francisco, a place where anyone can discover a niche. With a dash of just the right amount of humor added to the brew, Secondhand Spirits provides the reader with a layered story that does not disappoint. This reviewer looks forward to book two.

Book Stats:

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 045122745X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451227454

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Books in the Witchcraft Mystery series in the order they should be read:
Secondhand Spirits
A Castoff Coven Hexes and Hemlines In a Witch’s Wardrobe Tarnished and Torn A Vision in Velvet

When the first installment of the Witchcraft Mystery series begins, Lily Ivory finds herself taken aback when Aidan Rhodes, self-proclaimed male witch, walks into her vintage clothing store, Aunt Cora’s Closet. Making the incident even stranger, Aidan gives Lily a gift: a gnomish creature to serve as her familiar. Considering that Lily endeavors to keep …

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About Carol

A book reviewer and editor at Bitten by Books since 2008, Carol reads extensively in the urban fantasy genre, and also writes the column on genre television, Screen Bites. Serving as the director of the Urban Fantasy track at Dragon Con, Carol also works at Coastal Magic (formerly Olde City, New Blood), and AnachroCon, and for the last three years has been one of the organizers for a small literary festival in the town where she lives. When not reading, writing reviews, or working at conventions, Carol spends as much time as possible with her three amazing grandsons.

2 comments

  1. I love this series! It’s light, funny, and has the feel of a “cozy” mystery even though it takes place in the big city.

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