Tag Archives: Madelyn Alt

Home for a Spell by Madelyn Alt

I finished Madelyn Alt’s latest in the Bewitching Mystery series, Home for a Spell, this weekend, and I have to say: I was disappointed.

Product Description: As the newest witch in Indiana, Maggie O’Neill already has plenty to deal with. So being hobbled by a broken leg doesn’t help. Neither does the fact that her best friend and upstairs neighbor is getting ready to tie the knot with her own boyfriend and move away. This leads Maggie to wonder if it isn’t time to find herself a new pad.

But when she finds a place, Maggie’s dream of new digs turns into a nightmare: the apartment manager is found dead before she can even sign the lease. And Maggie finds herself not only searching for a new home- but for a frightfully clever killer.

This book has no paranormal elements, despite the series title, book title, and description of Maggie as the newest witch. And while certainly there are allusions to supernatural happenings and forces, and the pretense of a home-finding spell, the paranormal elements of the previous novels in the series are left out of this one completely. Add that missing element to a slow, boring mystery, and this book doesn’t cut it for me. And, I love the previous ones in the series. My disappointment is great, and I feel badly just writing this review. I hope that Alt pulls out a winner next time or I am afraid this series will die. Maggie just wasn’t interesting this time around.

Happy Reading (of something else)!

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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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The Bewitching Series by Madelyn Alt (First Five)

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

 

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Cozy Mystery Challenge

The Cozy Mystery Challenge begins today! Read 6 cozies between April 1 and September 30.

  • Learn more about the challenge here.
  • Learn what Cozy Mysteries are here.

Authors I’ve read recently and enjoyed in this genre are Joanne Fluke (cooking themed / with recipes) and Annette Blair (witch themed) and Madelyn Alt (also witch themed).

For my first book of the challenge, I will be reading Laura Childs’s Keepsake Crimes (2003), the first in a scrapbooking-themed series featuring Carmela Bertrand. I will keep you posted on my progress in the challenge.

Happy Reading!

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Filed under Cozy Mystery Challenge 2010, Reading for Fun