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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Middlewitch by Heather Parker

Middlewitch by Heather Parker
Publisher: Drollerie Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Full (139 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Holly

Being a witch isn’t always easy. Alicia Meldrew has managed to learn love potions with only one real mistake, and that was hardly her fault. She can whip up a mean maths retention spell, but it’s not all cake and roses. Take dating, for instance. As Alicia herself puts it, how does one even bring it up? “Hobbies? Yes, I usually practise the black arts on Mondays, Thursdays and every other weekend. You?”

Alicia is a young witch with a mission: to protect the citizens of Middlewitch, a sleepy little hamlet consisting mostly of a church, a senior citizen’s home, a pub, and two constables. You’d think such a small town wouldn’t have problems with dark forces, but you’d be wrong. With the help of her cats, Domino and Tango, the Women’s Institute, and even the Vicar, Alicia faces down demons, vampires, satanists, an American…and even the City.

She finally has a boyfriend, but is she really able to learn to share her life with James? And if she can, is she strong enough to learn to get on with his mother?

Middlewitch is the name of the sleepy little English village where twenty-something witch Alicia Meldrew lives. It is also the title of this enchanting narrative of a year in the life of Alicia, and the trials and joys she encounters in that year. We meet Alicia, her aged mentor Domino (her cat), Domino’s young son Tango, and of course James, the boyfriend. We also meet ghouls, zombies, a vampire and even (gasp!) an evil American.

The narrative begins with Alicia giving a brief overview of her life, and her decision, upon meeting James, to reveal her vocation. James was taken aback, and disappeared from the scene for about six months. After coming to terms with the fact of Alicia being a witch, he shows up at her cottage on Halloween, and they become engaged at some point. Alicia is a witch, but not always successful at what she does. Many of her spells go awry, which is what causes the sometimes hilarious episodes in this book. But as Domino continually tells Alicia (yes, the cats both talk to everyone) she just needs to phrase the spells correctly to avoid mishaps. Throughout this story, she is fighting evil witches from America, ghouls of her ancestors, possessed relatives, or the local coven of wannabe witches who want to sacrifice her, and even her potential future mother-in-law.

The fun in this book comes from the fact that Alicia takes herself much more seriously than those around her. Yes, she’s a witch, but rather inept in many ways. For instance, when Robin of Locksley turns up in the wood outside the village, she does a spell to send him back to his own time and place. He ends up a few days away, because Alicia was a bit dyslexic in the spell, scrambling her numbers. The time frame for this book takes the reader from Halloween, through Alicia’s adventures with the village Christmas celebration, and on through the next year.

This is a well written, character driven book, and each adventure endears Alicia to us more. It is a gentle and sweet read, and would be suitable for young and the young at heart. I smiled throughout, and worried with Alicia when she thought all was lost. But happy ever after wins again.