Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly Harper


A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses
(Half Moon Hollow #2)
Molly Harper
Release: May 28, 2013
Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.

Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson's book shop.

Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn't need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard—can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?

Review: My first thought was "finally a book from this world that's not about vampires." But A Witch's Handbook is almost like another Jane Jameson book. Jane, her friends and the bookstore are such a huge part of the story. Even Jane's mom and Mama Ginger play a role in helping Nola collect her family's missing magical artifacts. She has to find all four by the next full moon and keep them out of the hands of an enemy clan.

"Jesus, Mary, and Jerome!" I cried, backing away from a side parlor entirely populated by Precious Moments figurines. No matter where I went, their sinister eyes followed me. I desperately wanted to turn my back, but I knew the moment I did, one of them would attack me from behind with a tiny porcelain machete.

Harper does get in some information on the witches, who haven't really been part of the world before, but it's mostly at the very end of the book. Nola has tried, not entirely successfully, to bind her magic so she doesn't exactly practice. She has some magical mishaps and she has some magical healing abilities, but she doesn't cast spells. I like Nola but I wanted more witchy-ness.

Harper also introduces a brand new species, which I'm not going to spoil, but I wish there was more information about it. I mean, they spent so much time in the bookstore, why couldn't they look it up?

One of my favorite things, as always, was Dick Cheney. Nola just found out that Gilbert Wainwright was her grandfather, which makes Dick her many-greats grandfather. But it took him quite a while to confess the relationship to Nola. Her theories about his sudden desire to fix up her house and being generally happy to see her were really funny.

I was also impressed with the twisty ending. I knew it would come down to a confrontation between the feuding families, but there were still a few surprises. I definitely didn't see part of that coming!

And I got to see another new Half Moon Hollow location (I'm looking out for them as I read the series.) Nola starts working in the medical clinic, which is another place the vampires never go, and I liked that little piece of daily life in the Hollow. Also, Tess and Miranda from the novellas both have an appearance or a mention in the book. I'm curious about how Nola will fit in in the Hollow in the future after becoming so much a part of the group.

3 1/2  stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires


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