Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Witch's Grave" by Shirley Damsgaard

It took six books, but Ophelia Jensen has finally come to terms with her powers as a witch. "The Witch's Grave" by Damsgaard is really no different from the other entries in this series: there's a mystery that Ophelia and her grandmother Abby become involved in, much to the dismay of the local police. There's a bit of danger, some laughs, and yes, witchcraft. The violence that usually takes place off-stage is actually front-page this time, beginning our story...

Ophelia is at a fund-raiser at a local winery when she spies a very familiar-looking man. She's been having some rather interesting dreams featuring this man, so she's shocked to see him in the flesh. It turns out to be none other than Stephen Larsen, a well-known author of both fiction and true-crime books. Stephen seems just as drawn to our librarian as she is to him, resulting in a walk towards the woods for a bit of privacy. The two share a kiss, pull away to discuss said kiss, and then Stephen is shot. The bullet came from the direction of the forest, and no one is sure if it was a hunter with bad aim or something more sinister. Ophelia, of course, is devastated and once again believes that her "talent" has let her down; she should have been able to see the danger to Stephen and prevented it.

Stephen has good luck, though, and doesn't die. Ophelia is glad, but worried that someone might make another attempt on his life. Then it becomes clear that someone is making attempts on her life, which draws her into solving the mystery. As I said, it's the usual sort of fare for this series, which isn't to say that it's not a good book! I really enjoy this series, probably because it's more of a cozy and less of an all-out gore/paranormal fest. What I liked best about this entry is that Ophelia finally comes to terms with her abilities, something that Abby has been gently steering her toward all along. It makes me wonder what the next book will hold, as most of the tension so far has been Ophelia fighting her talent and trying to be "normal".

The only thing that felt out of place were Ophelia's dreams of the past. It's never fully explained if she's having some previous-life memories flashing into dream status, or if it's just coincidence that she's dreaming about these people in WWII, reliving out the female lead. A bit confusing, but probably necessary to fill out the book some. Finally, I hope in the next installment to see more of her friend, undercover agent Ethan, who only puts in an appearance via cell phone in this entry. Sigh. Ethan is hopefully the right man for Ophelia, and I'd like to see Damsgaard explore that storyline, especially since Ethan believes in Ophelia's powers. Hopefully my wish will be granted!

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