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Secondhand Spirits, by Juliet Blackwell

Reviewed by Scott

Secondhand Spirits, (Obsidian, 2009) is the first of a series of mystery novels (well, two so far) by Juliet Blackwell, a pseudonym of Julie Goodson-Lawes an Oakland muralist and, now, mystery writer. Our hero in these “Witchcraft Mysteries” is a shopkeeper named Lily Ivory who has recently moved to present-day San Francisco and sells vintage clothes in The Haight. Liliy is also a thirty-one year-old “natural witch” who has avoided settling down because her powers have estranged her from her hometown and family back in Texas. Lily is seeking community and acceptance as she is thrust into to the midst of a supernatural investigation and the inevitable whodunit. The tone of the book is light even though the peril is genuine, and the book is ultimately a rollickingly good read with a surprisingly action-packed denouement.

The book is urban fantasy within the mystery genre. Lily is given a goblin as a familiar by the local witch-king, Aidan Rhodes, who she mistrusts because he is a male witch (as one does). She names the familiar “Oscar,” and he assumes the form of a potbelly pig in front of cowans. Natural witches in this universe are routinely able to use pyrokinesis and telekinesis and manifest light at will.

Like the television series Charmed, Wiccans exist as a separate group from the natural witches. Lily lets a local Wiccan named Bronwen sell herbs in a corner of her shop. Furthermore, Voudouns and Mexican brujas also exist and play an important part in the plot. But here witchcraft abilities are innate, and Lily has no discernable religious life whatsoever. In this universe, magical power is distinct from any belief or religious practice.

Read the original article at: The Juggler

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