fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSpellcasting in Silk by Juliet Blackwell fantasy book reviewsSpellcasting in Silk by Juliet Blackwell

Think of Juliet Blackwell’s WITCHCRAFT MYSTERY series as paranormal cozy mysteries. Each stands alone and deals with a relatively non-gory murder committed by a seemingly upstanding member of the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury community where Lily Ivory owns a vintage clothing shop. Being a witch, Lily has some amateur detective skills that Carlos Romero, the handsome local homicide detective, finds helpful. In each installment, Lily, who can be a little nosey (as any amateur detective is), helps solve the case. As the series advances, new characters are added, Lily’s business grows, and her love life evolves. Although each murder mystery stands alone, I recommend reading the WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES in order so that you don’t miss Lily’s character development.

I would also highly (highly!) recommend that you read these in audio format, even if you’re not usually an audio reader. Xe Sands, who narrates the books for Tantor Audio, is a brilliant performer. She’s one of the few female readers I know who can convince me that I’m listening to a young self-conscious woman with a Texas twang who’s recently moved to San Francisco, and can also provide believable (sexy!) masculine voices for the four sexy men who inhabit this series. And a gargoyle. I am absolutely certain that a significant part of my enjoyment of these books is due to Xe Sands’ performance. By the way, I’ll be interviewing Xe tomorrow.

Okay, on to the plot. In Spellcasting in Silk, business is booming at Lily’s vintage clothing store because San Francisco’s Summer of Love Festival will be happening soon and everyone needs a vintage outfit. Her relationship with Sailor (her second boyfriend since she moved to California) is going pretty well. But then two things happen.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsOn the personal front, Sailor has been spending a lot of time training with a beautiful voluptuous psychic named Patience, which is making Lily slightly jealous, though she’s trying to be mature about it. On the mystery-solving front, Carlos asks for help investigating possible poltergeist or demonic activity at a local botanica that has been connected with the suicide of a woman who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. As Lily starts asking questions, things get convoluted and she ends up investigating the estate of an elderly woman who recently died, visiting an aging artist, looking for a missing teenager, playing poker, and learning about the religious practices of Santería.

As usual, she’ll need to rely on the help of some of her friends and acquaintances in San Francisco such as Aidan Rhodes, the man who runs the magical community; Max Carmichael, her former boyfriend; and even Patience, the psychic tart that Sailor’s been hanging around with. There were a couple of times when I wanted to hit Lily with the cluebat, but I know those were Juliet Blackwell’s little clues to the reader that make us feel smart and good about ourselves, and I expect those in a cozy mystery.

In the end, Lily solves the case, of course, and in the process she makes some new friends who I’m sure we’ll be seeing in future WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES. We also get a little foreshadowing about Lily’s personal future and it’s obvious that some sort of evil is brewing in San Francisco and it may have something to do with Lily being there. It also looks like Lily’s love life, which we all care about by now, may have some more ups and downs. I will definitely be there to see what happens.


  • 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.

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