In a Witch's Wardrobe: A Witchcraft Mystery
by Juliet Blackwell
Review by Harriet Klausner
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451237477
Date: 03 July 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In San Francisco powerful witches, Lily Ivory and Aidan Rhodes, attend the Art Deco Ball at the Paramount Theater. Miriam bumps into Lily who picks up some strange vibes from the woman. When Lily goes into the Ladies' Room, she sees Miriam in the mirror while the woman's body lies unconsciously on the floor. Stunned Lily realizes Miriam's soul has been separated from her comatose body and is in the mirror. Aidan ditches Lily, but before he does, her ne'er do well escort warns her to stay away from the case as he will handle Miriam's curse.
The next day, SFPD Homicide detective Carlos Romero, a friend who believes in Lily’s power, arrives at her vintage clothing shop Aunt Cora's. He asks her about Tarregan (Tara) Dark Moon, a woman who Carlos believes was murdered, and additionally for her to learn what she can from her peers who rarely cooperate with authorities. Lily finds out that Tara belonged to the Unseen Coven; the same group that Miriam was part of. She also learns that a witch hating group Defenders of Morality (DOM) is trashing witch's stores.
As Lily searches for the link between Miriam and Tara beyond the coven, Aiden asks her to take over the curse inquiry as he can no longer work it because he needs to protect someone involved. She enlists the help of cynical psychic, Sailor, who is magically beholden to Aidan; in fact he is in bondage to him. Lily is stunned that her attraction to Aidan proves less powerful than her desire for Sailor.
Juliet Blackwell provides another bewitching Witchcraft Mystery (see A Cast-Off Coven and Hexes and Hemlines) as she makes the paranormal elements seem normal in her urban fantasy setting. Neat touches like Lily's familiar is a gobgoyle (hybrid gargoyle-goblin) who looks like a potbellied pig when others are around, enhance that sense of the paranormal being normal; the gobgoyle is devoted to his Lily and he adds humor to the mix. Part of the feeling that witches and spells exist is the Haight-Asbury neighborhood in which one does not need an acid trip to accept coven members and magical practitioners walk the streets.
Aidan is a fascinating character who is a potent witch who reveals nothing much about his past. He seems comfortable working the gray area of magic. He and Lily create sparks when they touch, but she distrusts him as she wonders about his nebulous motives; no one knows who he is and what he did in the past.
However, this is obviously Lily's tale as she works with Carlos on what increasingly looks like a serial killer case and with Sailor on the Miriam fiasco. She is intrepid and has a loyal following in Carlos, her familiar, and stunningly the covens. This awesome paranormal mystery whodunit is very entertaining as the heroine explores the dark blood magic and looks for the evil witch who uses botanicals to create dark magic.