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REVIEW: Petty Magic by Camille DeAngelis

“In this captivating tale of adventure and timeless romance, novelist Camille DeAngelis blends World War II heroics with witchcraft and wit, conjuring a fabulously rich world where beldames and mortal men dare to fall in love.”

Dear Ms. DeAngelis,

As people who follow this blog know, I’m not usually the one to read paranormal books. It takes something special to grab my attention and make me put aside my usual reluctance for things non-human. The combination of WWII, which is a favorite time period of mine, plus the witch who just wants to have fun did.

Eve Harbinger and her clan sound like a blast to go partying with and I’d certainly love to sit in on one of their Christmas celebrations. I might end up warily watching things from the corner of my eye while fighting to maintain a happy smile but it would be something to remember. The present day sections of the book are steeped in atmosphere from the B&B run by Eve’s sister to the various antiquities stores which I’d adore having a chance to poke around in. You include lots of details that set the mood and give me great visuals. I have to say, however, that the WWII parts don’t seem as evocative. Going back and forth was like watching grainy B&W TV compared to lush HDTV.

The magic practiced by the Harbinger family is well thought out and precise limits and abilities are spelled out as the story goes along. The world building stays fairly consistent without noticeable-to-me sudden explanations or changes to suit the plot. I think it makes sense for Eve to not be all powerful or else why wouldn’t she have just zapped herself to Berlin and eliminated Hitler and his cronies? The actions she can take and do make use of her abilities without begging the question of why the world got into such a mess in the first place.

The flow of the story from past to present is easy to follow and we know from the start that there will be bitter moments to temper the ultimately sweet ending. Eve, the one who’s never had children or a man for most of her life, ends up (re)finding the right guy at the right time in her life. I had wondered how you would pull off the romance and it’s done with a neat trick even if Justin suffers years without her.

I finished reading the book a few days ago and am still not sure about
the whole subplot of Helena and her husband. Is it just that people aren’t always what they seem? That even the closest of families can have issues and hidden problems? Or is it another warning to Eve to avoid latching onto a mortal man so much younger than she is?

The war stuff seemed almost too effortless for Eve and Jonah once he was with her. Yeah his past was bad but they looked to be breezing though their assignments up until that last one. Then the suspense began to build and the dread to grow. But the fact that Eve doesn’t witness the final showdown dilutes it somewhat for me though her grief at the final outcome is palpable.

Eve is fairly selfish person and I agree with her assessment of herself as someone who hadn’t faced aging and matured well. She finally appears to have done so by the end of the book but takes the second romantic loss to finally bring home to her that her prowling days are over.

I like that the story isn’t overwrought or melodramatic despite the moments when it certainly could have gone that way. It’s got wit and fun and a heroine who isn’t perfect by any means but she’d be a cool person to sit and chat with for a long afternoon. I did find the British terms a tad jarring given that Eve is American born and raised but that’s a minor issue. I enjoyed getting to know Eve and watching her mature to a person who finally finds that which she’s been searching for so many years. B-


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Linda Rader
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 08:04:21

    Wow a paranormal with well thought out abilities, a consistent world view. That is where I usually disconnect with most paranormals…authors sometimes aren’t clear on how their magic works and doesn’t work. Sounds like this is a keeper. I like the world war two background. An exciting time. Thanks for the review.

  2. dri
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 08:30:16

    Wow. This sounds so very worth a try! And yes, indeed the combination of witches and the time period so has me there!

    I look forward to re-reading your review, Jayne, once I’ve read the book. :p

    Thanks for the rec!

  3. Jayne
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 08:50:47

    @Linda Rader: I hope the worldbuilding stuff will suit you. Remember paranormals aren’t my favorites so what is okay for me might not do as well for someone more used to reading them.

  4. Jayne
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 08:52:10

    @dri: You’re welcome. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

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