Publisher: Obsidian (Penguin)
Date published: June 7, 2011
Genre: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Book format: Paperback
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com
On the heels of solving two murders, Lily Ivory, owner of Aunt Cora’s Clothing, a vintage clothing shop in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco, is ready to settle down, get her GED and hone her craft skills. Those would be her witchcraft skills, not her crocheting. To do so she’s turned to blond haired, blue eyes, male witch, Adian Rhodes. While Aidan tells her she has great power, he has always seemed to be holding something back—perhaps even a crucial piece of knowledge Lily needs.
Before Lily can settle in with her lessons however, San Francisco police inspector Carlos Romero asks for her input into a suspicious death. Malachi Zazi’s house was set up to essentially mock any sort of superstitious beliefs. With a ladder over the doorway, upside down horseshoes and a black cat among other paraphernalia, he holds dinners centered on pointing out how foolish those beliefs can be. That is, until, he himself dies under mysterious circumstances. When Lily arrives at his home she finds the place is basically wiped clean of any impressions. Not merely cleaned with your basic bucket of Mr. Clean, but magically wiped clean. Initially she is going to leave it alone, but then her friend Bronwyn comes to her and asks for help for her son-in-law, Gregory. It seems a spate of bad luck has begun to follow him around turning his life upside down. Despite warnings from Aidan and requests to stop from Bronwyn, Lily begins delving deeper into just what happened to Malachi.
With her familiar, Oscar and … friend… Sailor in tow Lily begins to see magical threads throughout Malachi’s death. Along the way she ends up caring for Malachi’s black cat despite the fact she’s allergic to said feline. But her allergy to the cat is the least of Lily’s worries as elements of dark magic begin to surround her.
I enjoyed Juliet Blackwell’s first two books in her Witchcraft Mystery series, SECONDHAND SPIRITS and A CAST-OFF COVEN. The third, HEXES AND HEMLINES was a bit hard for me to like. Somewhere along the way the series, or at least this book, took a decided turn toward a darker, grittier mystery. Perhaps it is the subject matter and manner of Malachi’s death or just getting to know the world Lily lives in, but the story was pretty depressing. Granted, it IS a murder mystery, but in the earlier books there was a sense of hope and some decent humour. In HEXES AND HEMLINES, we do learn more about Aidan, but it’s not pretty and in its own way kind of disappointing. It leaves questions but no answers.
I was disappointed as well at the stalled relationship between Lily and Max and the distance that came about between her and Bronwyn, although that was caused by magical interference rather than friends falling apart. Oscar is less prevalent and he really added a lot to the earlier stories. I did like the cat and the layers of involvement he brought with him.
The story is well written, and if I liked the darker side more I would have totally enjoyed it. I will continue on with the series because the characters are really good ones. They are memorable and, for the most part, likeable. A new chapter on Sailor and his past was opened in HEXES AND HEMLINES and he is definitely a character to watch.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.