Monday, May 24, 2010

"The Seventh Witch" by Shirley Damsgaard

The seventh book in the Ophelia and Abby mysteries is possibly the luckiest entry in the series - an entertaining read full of great characters and a romance that finally appears to be heading in the right direction.

Ophelia Jensen, her adopted daughter Tink, and her grandmother Abby have returned to Abby's childhood home for the centennial birthday of Great-Aunt Mary, the self-appointed matriarch of the clan. Great-Aunt Mary never married, nor did her sister, Aunt Dot. Instead they have spent their lives in a small mountain town taking care of their friends and neighbors, all but the Doran family; there's bad blood between the families.
We are introduced to a few more family members, too. We meet Ophelia's mother, the one the "magic" skipped, as well as her father, a history buff who likes digging up old ruins and relics. There's also her cousin Lydia, a healer, as well as another aunt, Elsie (who hasn't spoken to her sister Mary in almost 50 years). And wonder of wonders, who should show up in this backwoods area but Ethan, the DEA agent of Ophelia's dreams. Yes, that's where the romance comes in, and I was very pleased to read it.

Then there are the Dorans, most specifically, the granddaughter, who seems to have "inherited" the family ability to practice magic. Sharon is the epitome of a she-devil, and she's got the townsfolk scared to cross her. She's everything that a practicing witch should not be. She's willing to cast love spells even though it's unethical (as Ophelia points out, a love spell is influencing someone's free will and that's a big no-no) as well as spells to seek revenge on those she feels have wronged her. Oh, and as it turns out, her family has been manufacturing illegal drugs, too (the specifics are never mentioned, but if I had to guess, probably meth).

Not long after arriving in the mountains, strange and scary things start to happen to Abby. Ophelia is worried because Abby seems unwell, not to mention hiding something from her. And the more the librarian asks around, the more she's convinced that something very wrong is going on in the town, and that Sharon Doran is behind it. But is it magic? Or is it something much more lethal?

I really enjoyed this book and I have to say, I think this series just keeps getting better. There's not as much actual magic in this entry as there has been in some of the others, which was a bit disappointing, but I don't think it really detracted from the book. I really enjoyed the family dynamics this time, especially the parallels between some of the women. Most of all, I loved getting to know more about Abby's parents, Annie and Robert. It's always been obvious that Abby had a great mother, but this is our chance to really learn more about her. And it was also nice to watch Ophelia come more into her own as a mother, something that her mother notices as well.

The Ophelia and Abby mysteries are wonderful little tea cozy-type books that just happen to have witches for main characters. Nothing is too graphic, there's little to no profanity, and there's clean romance. An all-around thumbs up from the Bookbabe!

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