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Review: A Cast-Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell

A Cast-Off Coven (A Witchcraft Mystery #2) by Juliet Blackwell
Mystery, Witches, Urban Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback $6.99 (336 pages, SIGNET)
Ebook $6.99

Students are spooked at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, and Lily is called in to search for possible paranormal activity. In return she's been promised a trunkful of Victorian-era clothes recently discovered in a school storage closet.
But Lily finds something else: the body of a wealthy patron of the school. In between running the store and seeing her new boyfriend, Max—a "mythbuster" who is uncomfortable with her witchcraft—she uses her sleuthing skills to try to solve the murder. Soon Lily senses something from the school's vintage clothes, but it's not the smell of mothballs—it's the unmistakable aura of evil intent.

Author Site: www.julietblackwell.net

Jumbled plotting, dissatisfying climax (3 stars)

It's only been a couple of weeks since Lily Ivory faced off with one very nasty spirit in SECONDHAND SPIRITS but she's already being called upon to investigate another spirited situation. Students attending the San Francisco School of Fine Arts are hearing some pretty spooky noises in the school's bell tower. In exchange for her checking it out she's getting a trunk of Victorian duds for her vintage clothing shop, Aunt Cora's Closet.

But when Lily and her student guides stumble on the body of a rich and influential patron of the school the mystery of the bell tower ghost grows much deeper. Could the ghost have killed Jerry Becker? Could the rumored bell tower ghost be the one haunting the school or is there something more behind the secret closet where the Victorian clothing was discovered?

I didn't madly love SECONDHAND SPIRITS but I really like the concept and the characters so I'm giving the next couple of books in the series a go. Unfortunately A CAST-OFF COVEN was a worse entry. The plot jumps from character to character and scene to scene in a manner that feels rather disjointed. Sometimes there were just too many threads of plot to try and unravel. There's the young man who supposedly commited suicide in the bell tower. Then there are the mysterious French nuns that the Victorian clothing belonged to. Top that off with a bunch of art students that have confusing ties to one another and this feels like a bunch of ideas were thrown into a hat and pulled at random.

Where the secondary characters added a nice balance to the first novel they feel like laundry day undies in this one... only pulled out when there was nothing else to use. Maya's bits in this were almost non-existent and Bronwyn, whom I was rather charmed by before, felt flat. The men in the story all seemed to suddenly want to date Lily, who is aloof to them for no apparent reason other than she's a witch and doesn't seem to know how to act around men because of it. The only bits I really liked enough to keep this one from feeling like a total loss were the little bits with new character Sailor, very enigmatic and hopefully a character who might pop up again.

Overall this was pretty disappointing and generally speaking did not work for me as a reader. Even the actual plot climax happened in a such a way I was left going "uh that was it...?". While I don't think this series' entries can completely stand-alone this one is pretty skippable.

Other Reviews:
Two Lips Reviews
Jessica's A Great Read

Notes: Bought with my own money.

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