Madelyn Alt’s A Witch in Time

I read Madelyn Alt’s A Witch in Time for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. It is the 6th in the Bewitching Series (first five reviewed here). I purchased the book from the Sony eReader Store.

Promotional Description: Stony Mill, Indiana’s newest witch, Maggie O’Neill, has been attached at the hip to the smoking-hot Marcus Quinn. Things couldn’t get any better- until her sister Mel gives birth to not one, but two babies…

Maggie’s visiting Mel in the hospital when a whispered conversation in a cafeteria sends chills down her spine. She can’t make out what they’re saying, but Maggie knows malice when she hears it. The next night, death visits the hospital…twice. Nobody bats an eye, but Maggie knows something sinister is haunting the hospital. Now she’ll need help if she’s going to tie two murders to one killer.

I like this series, and I like Maggie O’Neill. I think we have watched her develop in several ways over the course of the series and that is important to keeping my interest. Sometimes characters in a series become predictable or the plot seems to repeat over and over. That’s not true with this series and this book. This book is different from the others in several ways. First, it is focused on fewer characters, mainly Maggie and her current squeeze Marcus. It is also very family focused with Maggie’s sister and the birth of her twins. There is very little of Liss (Felicity, her boss and magickal mentor) in this book, despite the fact that she has been the focus  of at least one previous book and a major character in most of them. By not telling the same story with the same characters, Alt has kept my attention and made me eager for more.

I have, though, read a review at Amazon that says there is no where near enough magic in this book and too much concentration on Maggie’s familial relationships. As I noted above, I like the focus on the relationships. I like seeing Maggie’s struggle with her mother (I have mother issues, too), and I like the development of her relationship with Marcus. I like the scenes with her ex Tom, and I think they feel real and allow Maggie some closure so that she can develop her relationship with Marcus more. So, none of that is a problem for me.

And, I think someone who doesn’t see the magic isn’t reading carefully enough. There were several scenes in which Maggie develops her senses (6th / paranormal / magickal / whatever), and those scenes and actions are what allows her to solve the mystery. She also becomes more accepting of her gift(s). What is missing is the label “magick”–and I don’t think it is needed. I can find it without the word being used.  By refusing to label what Maggie does (other than to mention her “clairaudient” abilities to hear her grandmother’s voice), Alt challenges the notion that these things are paranormal; that is, they are just “normal” for Maggie. I could probably pull off a fairly academic analysis (in feminist deconstructionist style, of course) of Alt’s lack of naming and how that says more than what giving it a label would. Un-naming a thing is a pretty sophisticated statement to the reader, and I am sorry that the reviewers on Amazon were not smart enough to get it. Again, I’m okay with this strategy. I like it.

If I were to complain about this book, I would say that I would like this book–all the books in the series, actually–to be longer! I need more time with characters and more time to develop the mystery. Just as I was getting into it, Maggie has a paranormal epiphany and the story is over. I was also disappointed in the ending in that there was just a chapter that told what happened after the mystery was solved with no forward action or character development. It seemed contrived. I like endings to be part of the story, not just tacked on. A longer story would have solved this, I think. Of course, I know that the book length is probably predetermined by the publisher and the genre not the writer. I think sometimes, though, that is unfortunate for a story.

So, I would definitely recommend this book, but I think it needs to be read as part of the series. Read it as book 6, not as a stand alone.

Happy Reading & Let me know What you think!

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Cozy Mystery Challenge 2010, Reading for Fun

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