"Witches, Wiccans and Demons. Oh my!"
After being exiled from her home, Lily Ivory decided to
travel the world. However, that doesn't mean Lily didn't
travel in style. Thanks to her heritage, Lily has managed
to pad her stock portfolio very well. Of course, her
heritage—being a witch—is the reason Lily had to leave her
home in the first place. After a childhood incident, Lily
went to live with her grandmother, who taught Lily the
craft. Unfortunately for Lily, her training wasn't complete
when she was forced to leave. Eventually Lily had enough of
traveling and after a parrot in Hong Kong told her to, she
moved to San Francisco. Now the proud owner of Aunt Cora's
Closet, Lily can indulge her passion for vintage clothing.
Lily can pick up vibrations from things and is very good at
matching clothing with people. Not surprisingly, the area
Lily chose to live is the Haight-Ashbury district. Lily
loves the mixture of people living in there.
Not surprisingly, Lily rents out a portion of her shop to
Bronwyn, a Wiccan who sells herbs. One day, Maya—a student
Lily gives a commission to for finding vintage clothing—and
Lily go to a home in a rundown part of the city. The woman
who lives there—Frances Potts—is a packrat and Maya feels
sure she'll have a lot of clothes for Lily. This time, Maya
was right and Lily finds a treasure trove of vintage
clothing, including two wedding gowns. As Lily and Maya are
with Mrs. Potts, one of the neighborhood children is there
visiting with them. The little girl leaves to go home and
Lily and Maya go into the basement and begin packing up the
clothes. While in the basement, Lily hears La Llorona
wailing. The surprising thing is Mrs. Potts hears the demon
as well. This is not good. Lily has always been able to
hear demons, but when humans hear them, it means they will
die. Turns out Mrs. Potts has an appointment with her
attorney, Delores Keener. Mrs. Potts invited Delores to
dinner, which Delores just can't turn down since it's her
favorite—pot roast. As the two women are hauling the
clothes to Lily's van, they hear a commotion and go to
investigate. As they approach a crowd of people, they find
out Jessica—the little girl who was visiting with Mrs.
Potts—has gone missing.
Back at Lily's store, a male witch shows up bringing a gift
for Lily—a familiar. Since Lily is allergic to cats, he
didn't bring one. Instead he brought a goblin, which Lily
names Oscar. Of course, Oscar can't be seen by anyone in
his natural state, so he takes the form of a pot-bellied
pig whenever someone is around. Bronwyn falls in love with
Oscar and even gives him a purple silk pillow to sleep on.
After what she experienced before, Lily decides to go over
to Mrs. Potts's home and cast a spell of protection over
the sweet old woman. While there, she feels an evil spirit,
but proceeds to cast the spell and goes home exhausted.
The next morning, Lily is paid a visit by a homicide
detective. Turns out Lily was seen at the Potts's house the
night before. But the shocking thing is that the old woman
is dead. She was found by her daughter in a pentagram. Now
not only is Lily a suspect in Mrs. Potts's death, but she
has to rescue Jessica.
Is Lily's magic failing? Why didn't her spell of protection
keep Mrs. Potts safe? What killed Mrs. Potts? Will Lily be
able to rescue Jessica from La Llorona? And exactly why
does Lily feel she has to rescue Jessica?
SECONDHAND SPIRITS is a fantastic story. Juliet Blackwell
does an incredible job of not only writing an entertaining
story, but giving a lot of information on the city of San
Francisco and its history. But this story is about Lily—a
witch. A very lonely woman who has always gone her own way
alone because she isn't in complete control of her powers.
She's never had a lasting relationship with a man, or a
friend for that matter. We get to experience firsthand as
Lily learns to make friends and how to depend on someone
else for help. And of course, become accepted for who she
is. Some of the secondary characters are interesting in
their own right, from the voodoo priest to the barista
where Lily gets her morning coffee. Of course, my favorite
is Oscar, the mischievous goblin. As this is the first in a
series of books, all I can say is I can't wait to see what
happens with Lily and her group of friends next. And to
Juliet Blackwell—write faster!
Reviewed by Chere Gruver
Posted July 7, 2009
Love the vintage, not the ghosts.
Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her “witchiness” in San Francisco. It’s there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically.
Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Contemporary, Magic