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REVIEW: Petty Magic by Camille DeAngelis

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-


Dear Author

REVIEW: Witch Craft by Caitlin Kittredge

Dear Ms. Kittredge,

I have a very hard time explaining why I keep reading this series.   As I’ve mentioned in the past, the main character, Luna Wilder, can be really off-putting at times.   On the other hand, it’s very nice to see her maturing and evolving over the course of the series.   The Luna Wilder we meet in Witch Craft, the fourth installment of your Nocturne City series, is certainly not the same Luna Wilder we met at the beginning in Night Life.   Well, in some ways, at any rate.   I still question her taste in men.

When Witch Craft opens, Luna is now the head of the Supernatural Crimes Squad (SCS), a new division in Nocturne City’s police force created to look into cases not quite on the mundane side of things.   Problem is they want the SCS to start bringing results ASAP.   If not, then they’ll be disbanded and Luna and her co-workers will be out of a job.

Luna sees their chance to prove themselves with a new case.   Mysterious fires are being set all over the city, killing some unsavory people who deal with Nocturne City’s supernatural side.   What’s more, Luna is being targeted for reasons she doesn’t understand, by things she’s never seen before.   To further complicate things, Lucas, the serial killer wendigo from Second Skin, has returned and Luna finds herself unwillingly attracted to Will Fagin, a federal agent who’s been assigned to investigate the ongoings and might have a secret or two of his own.   Add to that a mole who’s feeding information to the people the SCS is trying to bring down, and Luna’s got a lot on her hands.

I wish I could say I enjoyed this book more than I did.   I didn’t hate it and I did finish it, but it just didn’t incite much of a reaction from me either way like previous books in the series had.   In fact, I actually put the book down in the middle for several weeks, and I didn’t feel any pull to return to it.   I’m not sure why that is.   In a sense, it sort of felt like the story and plot was just going through the motions.

I wasn’t very interested in Luna’s new love interest, Will, even after we learned what his secret was.   I’ve also never been particularly keen on Lucas, but serial killers tend to bring forth that reaction from me.   Even though I never cared for Dmitri, his interactions with Luna were at least interesting.   I can’t really say that here.

It also didn’t help that I figured out who the mole was the second we learned there was a mole in the SCS.   I thought it obvious and that removed a lot of the suspense from the plot for me.   I’m not sure if we were supposed to believe another person on Luna’s team was the spy.   Unfortunately, that person was too obviously a red herring for it to be effective.

I did like the fact that the mythology of the Nocturne City world expanded by having different creatures than we’ve seen previously, and also by including different disciplines of witchcraft.   But it almost felt very kitchen sink-like; too much going on to form any lasting impression.

As usual, I enjoyed the relationship between Luna and her cousin, Sunshine.   I still think that’s one of the best aspects of the series.   And how funny is it that Sunny is now dating Luna’s former boss.   Ha!   How traumatic that must be for Luna.   I also liked seeing the interactions between Luna and her formidable grandmother.   It makes me wish we could have seen more of it in previous books.   Well, maybe in the next one.

I really do wish I could have liked this book more than I did.   I know that the Nocturne City series ends with the next book, though, so maybe the final novel will yield different results.   C

My regards,

This book can be purchased at Amazon. Ebook format? What’s that?