I will be reading Madelyn Alt’s new book A Witch in Time (April 2010) for my next Cozy Mystery Challenge book (since Sony has not fixed Photo Finished yet–see previous entries). So, I thought I would review the first five books in this series, all of which / witch 😮 I have read since the beginning of the year. I purchased the books from the Sony eReader Store. Again, though, I am going to include the promotional descriptions / Back Cover Blurbs (italicized) in an effort to stay focused and not give away any of the “mystery” of the books. Excerpts from these books are available on Alt’s site.
The Trouble with Magic (Jan 06)
Bringing a little culture to Stony Mill, Indiana, Enchantments is one of the area’s finest antique shops. But shop clerk Maggie O’Neill and her employer Felicity Dow do more than conjure up curios for the locals–the each possess a talent for spellbinding sleuthing.
Bored with her office job (and subsequently fired for excessive tardiness), Maggie jumps at the opportunity to work at Enchantments. She was a little weirded out when Felicity described herself as a witch, but if her boss wants to play with broomsticks and cauldrons, where’s the harm? However, Maggie’s first day on the job may turn out to be her last when police question Felicity in the murder of her estranged sister. With everyone in town proclaiming Felicity’s guilt faster than the Salem Witch Trials, Maggie finds herself wondering if she’ll also be tied to the stake. And lately, she’s been receiving messages on a spiritual frequency guiding her to prove Felicity’s innocence–and to embrace her own “charmed” life . . .
A Charmed Death (Dec 06)
Maggie O’Neill was just your average small-town girl, stuck in a dead-end job until she started working at Enchantments, Stony Mill’s finest antique shop with a unique mystical secret. Now Maggie is Indiana’s newest witch. Learning to cope with her newfound powers is tough enough, but add to that keeping the stock at Enchantments organized, keeping the peace with her somewhat controlling mom, and remembering to tape reruns of her favorite show, Magnum, P.I., and Maggie’s got a full plate.
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. In this case? Get witchy!
But when a second questionable death occurs a scant two months into her store tenure, she can’t turn her thoughts away from all the town gossip about the teenage princess and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the girl’s charmed life and death. While the police get caught up in procedure and logic, Maggie uses every trick, charm, and intuition she can summon, with the assistance of her favorite witchy boss Felicity Dow, to get to the heart of this spellbinding murder.
Hex Marks the Spot (Dec 07)
Maggie O’Neill loves her job at Enchantments, Indiana’s finest mystical antique shop. But something dark is brewing in Stony Mill — and it’s not just the fabulous coffee Maggie serves to browsing customers. Looking for charming stock for the store, Maggie accompanies her boss–and favorite witch–Felicity Dow to the countywide craft bazaar. Felicity falls hard for a beautiful armoire, intricately carved by an Amish craftsman. Maggie can’t help noticing that though his clothes may be plain, he himself is more handsome than a man sporting a jawline-only beard has any right to be. And he seems pretty aware that the ladies love his . . . furniture. But when the hunky craftsman turns up dead, with a strange hex symbol etched near his corpse, Maggie can’t help but wonder if the craft involved might be the witchy kind. Because Maggie knows that the dead man could well have been oversexed . . . but she worries that he was also overhexed.
No Rest for the Wiccan (Nov 08)
Maggie O’Neill loves her job at Enchantments as much as she loves being Indiana’s newest witch. But when her family needs her, she’s still willing to lend a hand—even if she has to reach beyond the grave…
It’s a long, hot summer in Stony Mill, and Maggie is busy watching TV reruns, minding the store, and figuring out her love life. Then she reluctantly volunteers to care for her bedridden, oh-so-perfect sister, Mel, and her beautiful nieces. But Mel isn’t the only focus of Maggie’s attention. There are some strange spirits hanging about the area—and it looks like a job for Maggie and the N.I.G.H.T.S. ghost hunting team.
And even as she tries to deal with the long-dead, Maggie must cope with the recently-deceased. A friend of Mel’s loses her husband to a dreadful fall, and the police are calling it accidental death. Maggie’s not so sure, and sets her second sights on finding a first-degree murderer…
I have read reviews of Alt that suggest this witchy series is not magickal enough, but I like that about it. Yes, it’s fun to read about hereditary witches who can rhyme up a spell to save the world (see Candace Havens, for instance, or Annette Blair’s Triple Witch Trilogy), but that’s not the only kind of magick.
Maggie is a very real character in that she is hesitant to use power and hesitant to believe in magick. She doesn’t do it without reservation or at the drop of a pin. She wasn’t born with it. Her grams didn’t teach her to use it. In fact, her mom doesn’t approve of her association with her magickal friends at all. Maggie is a complicated hero. I like that about her.
In addition, each book does have more magick as the character and series develops, just as it should if we are tracing the development and unfolding of a person. This series is very much built upon a traditional bildungsroman model with a witchy twist. It is Maggie’s coming of age journey and the stories of those paranormal events that are turning her into the woman she will become.
I can’t wait to read A Witch in Time this weekend.
Until Then, Happy Reading