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Familial Magic: A Secret History of Witches, Daughters of the Storm, and The Rules of Magic

13 Jun

All families have drama, but these three terrific novels prove that families of witches really know how to brew up some trouble.  Stop in to the Hoboken Public Library today and borrow them for a spell!

A Secret History of Witches
by Louise Morgan
Each section in the novel, A Secret History of Witches, focuses on a different witch in a long lineage starting in 1821 and going forward in time to 1937.  Although the women are witches, to me there is less a focus on the supernatural than on the relationship between mothers and daughters as well as the ways in which women who have attempted to wield power have been discriminated against and threatened through the ages.  This novel will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction generally and not just fans of fantasy.  Sometimes the characters can lack distinction in multigenerational sagas, but I found in this work each of the women was unique in her motivations and her relationship with her supernatural talents.  Although I enjoyed seeing the varied histories of the Orchiere family, I enjoyed the last section focusing on Veronica and her efforts during the War to be my favorite.  Louisa Morgan is the pseudonym of Louise Marley who has also written historical fiction under the name Cate Campbell as well as fantasy works under the name Toby Bishop.

Daughters of the Storm
by Kim Wilkins
In Daughters of the Storm, a novel infused with magic, the focus is not on mother/daughter relationships but on the relationship between 5 very different sisters.  Bluebell is a fierce warrior, Ash is just learning her full magical abilities, Ivy is vain and selfish, Ivy’s twin Willow is a religious zealot of a new religion, and Rose is carrying on a secret affair after being forced into an arranged marriage with a man she doesn’t love.  They must work together to save their ill father, a king, who has been cursed by a powerful spell.  Their step brother wants to stop them and have the kingdom for himself.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones check out this fantasy saga which also has political maneuvering and familial drama a plenty.  This is the first in a new series.  The next book in the series Sisters of the Fire is scheduled to be published in the USA in January 2019 and is set 4 years after the events in Daughters of the Storm.  Wilkins is one of my favorite author’s and you can read more about her other novels in a previous blog post.

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman
Over a decade after Hoffman’s bestselling novel Practical Magic about two sister witches, comes the prequel, The Rules of Magic, which focuses on an earlier generation of the Owens family.  If you liked the quirky aunts, Jet and Franny, from the original novel then you will enjoy getting to see them in their youth at the beginning of the 60’s when youth rebellion is raging and they must try to escape their family curse along with their brother Vincent.  All three learn that love is impossible to hide from.  Although it is hard to top the magic of her earlier work, I still enjoyed the novel.  I relished the plot of the previous work more, but I found this work to be more mature in its characterization; Jet, Franny, and Vincent seemed more fully developed.  Besides print, you can also borrow an ebook or digital audiobook version of the novel from eLibraryNJ or eBCCLS.  You can also read my previous post about some of Hoffman’s other novels.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Life isn’t Always a Fairy Tale: Nursery Crimes, The Sorcerer’s Appendix, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, and Grimm

2 May

Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales are often thought of as being just for kids, but they are packed with crimes like theft (Beauty and the Beast), breaking and entering (Goldilocks), and attempted murder (Hansel and Gretel), that have inspired authors to create adult mystery series based on the classics that we all know. Here are 3 book series and a TV series you will want to check-out if you enjoy your fairy tales or nursery rhymes with a dash of investigation and a sprinkle of humor.

The Fourth Bear and The Big Over Easy
by Jasper Fforde
You may remember that I mentioned Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series in my lists of favorites.  In the same alternate book universe where book characters are real, Jasper Fforde has written two books in his Nursery Crime Series.  In The Big Over Easy, detective Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary look into the death of a certain Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III.  In the second novel in the mystery series, The Fourth Bear, Spratt and Mary must stop one tough cookie aka the Gingerbread Man from a murderous spree and find the missing Goldilocks.

The Sorcerer’s Appendix
by P.J. Brackston
If you ever wondered what happened to Gretel after she escaped the witch and her Gingerbread house in the woods; Brackston’s answer is that she is now all grown up and working as a private investigator in a whimsical fantasy version of 18th Century Bavaria inhabited both by historic characters like Mozart and fairy tale ones like big bad wolves. The Sorcerer’s Appendix is the latest in Brackston’s humorous Brothers Grimm Mystery Series.  In this outing story, Gretel must make her way back into the woods and discover whether a sorcerer who disappeared leaving behind only his appendix is really deceased or still alive.  Gretel is a prickly heroine who makes you route for her despite her less than perfect princess demeanor.

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
by Robert Rankin
In The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Robert Rankin imagines a Toy City where the classic nursery rhyme characters are the rich and famous elite, who are a target of a serial killer.  The only ones that can stop the murdering psychopath are the city’s sole detective Eddie Bear and his BFF Jack.  You can also check out the sequel The Toyminator, if you want to read more about Eddie and Jack’s humorous adventures.

Last year the long running TV series, Grimm, ended its 6 year run. Grimm was based on the idea that the creatures or “wesen” from the Brother’s Grimm stories were real and hiding among us only able to be viewed by “Grimms” like Nick, the detective main character of the show.  My favorite characters in the show were two of the “wesen”, Rosalie and Monroe, who helped Nick on his adventures.  I’ll miss the series, but luckily all six seasons are available on DVD to rewatch again and again.

Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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