fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell fantasy book reviewsHexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell

Lily Ivory has only been in San Francisco for a couple of months, but she’s starting to feel like it’s home. She’s made friends with some fellow shopkeepers on Haight Street, a few local journalists, a cute cop who respects her paranormal talents, and some other quirky folks. Lily’s vintage clothing business has taken off, too, because she’s got a knack for choosing just the right clothes for each of her customers.

At the beginning of Hexes and Hemlines, the third book in Juliet Blackwell’s WITCHCRAFT MYSTERY series, the cute cop asks for Lily’s expertise examining a murder scene. The leader of a skeptics society has been found dead in his home with all sorts of unlucky symbols — black cat, ladder, broken mirror, etc. It seems that the bad luck he didn’t believe in has caught up with him. Lily is dismayed to discover that one of the main suspects is her new friend’s son-in-law. As she continues to investigate the murder, things get stranger and stranger and she needs a lot of help from her new friends.

Meanwhile, Lily’s relationship with Max is disintegrating because he can’t get over the fact that she’s a witch. Lily still has hope for the relationship, though she’s also attracted to Aiden (a powerful male witch who is training her) and Sailor (a psychic bad boy with some issues). Lily’s also having a little trouble with her familiar Oscar the gobgoyle (goblin/gargoyle) when he becomes jealous after Lily brings home the cat of the murdered man. (This is really cute.)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsI’m enjoying this paranormal cozy mystery series. The focus on vintage clothing is fun and the stories are comfortable — light on sex, violence, gore and “language.” The characters are interesting and likeable and we learn more of the history of several of them (Lily, Sailor, Aiden, Bronwyn) in this installment. There are a few too many coincidences (often the case with cozy mysteries) and a few times where the plot seems contrived to get Lily alone with hot guys, but generally the story works and the romantic tension doesn’t feel phony or overwhelm the plot.

You could start the WITCHCRAFT MYSTERY series with Hexes and Hemlines — there’s just enough backstory to fill you in (fortunately it’s not too repetitive — Blackwell gets it just right!), but I’d suggest starting with the first two books, Secondhand Spirits and A Cast-Off Coven. Each books contains a different mystery, but Lily’s personal story and relationships continue to develop.

If you’re an audio reader, I insist that you try the audio version which is produced by Tantor Audio and read by Xe Sands. Sands delivers just the right amount of twang for Lily’s slight Texas accent. Her voice for the men is deep and resonant and just plain sexy. (I’m not sure how it is that I find a woman’s voice so sexy, but believe me, it is). Her voice for Oscar is adorable. And if you’re not an audio reader yet, this series would be a great one to start with!


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.