Thursday, August 10, 2017

Guest Post: Jeanne and Treadmill Books: Retired Witches Mysteries by Jim and Joyce Lavene

This is a day late because I was so worn out Tuesday evening I was online very briefly only to let everyone know how Sandi was doing and then I went to bed. I apologize to Jeanne as well as everyone who expected to see the latest review yesterday.

Treadmill Books:  Retired Witches Mysteries by Jim and Joyce Lavene

Molly, Elise, and Olivia are three good friends who run a magical shop in Wilmington, NC.  They’re also witches who have helped protect their town from –well, whatever ill supernatural beings or events might appear.  In the opening book in the series, Spell Booked, the three are facing the fact that none of them are spring chickens any longer and their powers are starting to fade.  Their magic is becoming a bit iffy at best. The trouble is that they can’t just up and retire to Boca Raton (retirement community of choice for witches, in case you didn’t know) because that would leave the town unprotected.  They’re trying to recruit replacements to pass on their spell book, but that’s proving more difficult than anticipated. 

Then Olivia is murdered and their spell book is stolen. Molly and Elise must try to find the murderer and recover the spell book before their powers fade away.

A friend recommended this book, which she called charming.  I agree wholeheartedly, and not just because the main characters are women “of a certain age.” There’s a whiff of Golden Girls among the cast as well in their observations about growing older.  To up the ante, the conceit is that witches cannot reveal themselves to non-magical beings, even if that individual is a spouse or child.  Molly, for example, is married to a mortal policeman and they have a non-magical son. This makes for a very difficult situation when both Molly and her husband are trying to solve Olivia’s murder—not only is her husband upset that Molly is meddling, but Molly knows a number of things about the murder that she can’t reveal even when the official investigation is following the wrong leads.

For me, much of the appeal is the humor and the age of the characters.  Younger ones are introduced, but the stories revolve mostly around these aging ladies with whom I can identify.  The stories, while having dark elements, have a light-heartedness about them.  I don’t think it’s giving too much away to reveal that Olivia shows up as a ghost early on, but she doesn’t know who did her in.  She’s too disoriented and trying to come to terms with her new state of being—or non-being, as the case may be.  The three friends are also portrayed as being among the “little people”—i.e., not the ones in positions of power, like the Council.  They are small fish in a big pond, struggling to keep their part of the world safe.

Previously, I reviewed the Lavenes’ Sweet Pepper Mystery series which I tried because of my fondness for this series.  I also tried a book from another of their series and it just didn’t click, for whatever reason.  The settings tend to be a bit generic; there are some details, but not many.  The writing can occasionally be clunky, but the fun of the Retired Witches Mysteries kept me turning pages.  There are only three in the series, and the third book was published after Joyce’s untimely death. I found a few stylistic problems with that one, but overall I found this to be a good treadmill series.

The books are:
1.      Spell Booked
2.      Looking for Mister Goodwitch
3.      Putting on the Witch

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