In a Witch's Wardrobe
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Retail Price: 7.99
Lily Ivory is living her dream of owning a vintage clothing store—and practicing magic on the side. But when she encounters a sinister sleeping spell, Lily comes face-to-face with a nightmarish evil…
Taking a night off from running her successful San Francisco clothing store, Lily attends a local art deco ball where vintage fashions steal the show. But when a young woman at the event falls under a mysterious sleeping sickness, Lily senses that a curse was placed on the woman’s corsage.
Before Lily can solve the woman’s magical ailment, she’s asked to assist in investigating a string of poisonings in the Bay Area witchcraft community. She’s gained the trust of the local covens by supporting women’s charities through her clothing store. But soon, Lily suspects that one of her new acquaintances might not be so well intentioned and could be dabbling in dark magic and deadly botany…
For fans of: Madelyn Alt
When witch and vintage clothing store proprietress Lily Ivory accepts an invitation to attend an Art Deco ball at Oakland’s elegant Paramount Theater, she figures the biggest challenge she’ll face is avoiding humiliation on the dance floor. But then fellow partygoer Miriam Demeter collapses in front of Lily while the two are in the ladies’ lounge, and all thoughts of potential embarrassment fly from Lily’s head. 911 is called, and the unconscious woman is taken to the hospital, but Lily’s unable to think of anything else for the rest of the evening. What’s the deal with the strange corsage Miriam had pinned to her dress? And why could Lily still see the woman’s reflection in the lounge’s mirror after the ambulance had carted her away?
Lily suspects Miriam is the victim of a curse and that the doctors can’t wake her because her spirit is trapped at the Paramount, but unless Lily can figure out exactly what spell was cast and by whom, there’s nothing she can do to help. Lily does some digging, only to discover that Miriam is a member of a local coven – and that she’s not the only member of her group who appears to be under the influence of a spell. Can Lily track down the witch responsible for Miriam’s imprisonment and prevent her from doing further harm – or will Lily’s snooping just earn her a spot atop the perpetrator’s hit list?
In a Witch’s Wardrobe is the fourth of author Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries, and it’s my favorite of the series to date. Blackwell’s prose is warm and welcoming yet still graceful and elegant, and is quite simply a joy to read. Her descriptions of people, places, and things are lush and vibrant, providing just enough detail to allow you to see the world through Lily’s eyes, but not so much as to distract. She manages to seamlessly integrate the paranormal elements of Lily’s world without over-complicating the story, slowing the pace, or confusing the reader. And she writes about vintage fashion with apparent expertise and affection. The mystery is complex and intriguing, the plot is engrossing, and the character work is strong.
Lily is a smart, strong, independent heroine for whom you can’t help but root. She’s been an outsider her entire life, and though she desperately wants to be accepted by those around her, she’s unwilling to compromise her values just to fit in. There’s something different about her – something Other – that causes the world to hold her at arm’s length, and it’s that same Otherness that makes her so darn appealing. Lily’s familiar, Oscar (“a greenish gray fellow covered in scales with big bat ears, a monkeylike snout and hands, and clawed feet” who transforms himself into a pot-bellied pig when non-magic folk are around), provides both heart and humor to the tale. And Lily’s budding relationship with surly psychic Sailor is so hot that their shared pages practically smolder, but is also surprisingly nuanced and tender.
If you like paranormal cozies in the vein of Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mysteries or are just looking for something a little less traditional to take with you to the beach, do yourself a favor and check out Juliet Blackwell’s In a Witch’s Wardrobe; it’s a great way to inject a little magic into your summer.
Reviewed by Kat N.
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