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Review: Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

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Secondhand Spirits (Witchcraft Mysteries #1) by Juliet Blackwell
Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Witches
Hardcover (CLARION BOOKS, 336 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 045122745X
Love the vintage- not the ghosts
Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her "witchiness" in San Francisco. It's there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically.
Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?

Author Site:

Witchcraft + Vintage Clothes = A Ghostly Good Mystery (4 stars)

Opening a vintage clothing shop—Aunt Cora's Closet—in San Francisco was supposed to be a way to be settled and make a new life for Lily Ivory. The shop has drawn a good clientele and even gets featured in the paper when she gets drawn into a tangled mystery. A little girl has been kidnapped and a woman that Lily was trying to protect winds up dead leading the police to suspect she may be involved. She has to not only prove her own innocence but rescue the little girl from a heinous evil even if it means risking her own life in the process.

Backing Lily up in her quest are unlikely allies from Aiden Rhodes, a male witch of considerable power, and Max Carmichael, a handsome debunker of the paranormal, to Bronwyn, who sells herbs from Lily's shop, and her coven.

Can't give too much away without spoiling the mystery but this was a very satisfying book. Lily is an unusual character and very little of her history is revealed. For a reader looking for a character they can get to know through-out a series Lily makes a great one to follow. What hints we're given certainly made me hungry to find out what lead her to where she is and why she has some of the attitudes she has. Though a little frustrating at first her lack of friends and people she lets close changes through the story and those she begins to let in are for the most part pretty interesting.

There is also the contrast of a more magical (paranormally gifted) witchcraft system and Wicca I think many readers will be drawn to this book and series. I was looking for non-Wiccan witchcraft myself but I think both were treated very well by the author. The mystery itself was a little predictable but not to the point it wasn't entertaining. I had never heard of the evil spirit the plot focuses on by the name given here but she is a very familiar one in many cultures and makes for a really creepy villain.

On the whole Secondhand Spirits didn't cast a love spell over me but I liked it a lot. This is definitely the first book of a series with potential to entertain mystery readers and paranormal fans alike. A terrific read for a rainy October afternoon! Don't forget to check out the second Witchcraft Mystery book, Cast-off Coven, due out summer 2010.

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