Saturday, May 14, 2016

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

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?

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This book was interesting because it takes the focus off the vampires a bit and highlights some of the other paranormal types a bit more. Besides the vampires, we've also seen a good bit of the werewolves, both in the Jane Jameson series and in the slightly related Naked Werewolf series (related only by virtue of taking place in the same universe for the most part). Now we get to see the witches a bit, or at least a witch. While the existence of witches has been mentioned before, we've never seen one, and the general advice before seemed to be "avoid them." This book proves that such isn't always necessary and that some of them can be quite handy to know.

Nola is a fun character with the right blend of sass, practicality, and sense of adventure. Though she's quite devoted to her family in Ireland she makes no bones about being disgruntled that she has to be the one to go on the scavenger hunt to find her family's lost artifacts. Still, she resigns herself to the task with relatively good grace and settles in to try and complete the task as quickly as possible. While she does tend to avoid magic when possible due to the unpredictable nature of her power, she doesn't really shun it and will use it or at least attempt to use it when needed.

Jed seems to be the typical country bumpkin type at first glance but it doesn't take long for him to prove that there's more to him than a ripped torso and a country drawl. A capable handyman, he also shows us that he has a brain in his gorgeous head as well. The more that he and Nola get to know each other, and the more we get to know about him, the more it becomes apparent that the two aren't all that different in many ways. Both are concerned for their respective family's future and both are seeking to improve that future in their own ways.

Much of the story here ends up being predictable but that doesn't detract from enjoyment of it. Enough twists and surprises are thrown in to keep it interesting, and the ever-present sense of humor keeps it fun. Nola manages to integrate herself into Jane's circle of friends quite handily, and their help proves to be invaluable in her quest.

I'd definitely recommend reading the Jane Jameson series at least before reading this one, as there is a lot of character and events background that proves relevant here. Reading the previous books in the Half Moon Hollow series is less necessary, for while those characters do make appearances, they don't figure in very heavily here. All in all, definitely a book I would recommend.

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