Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Have You Heard? - A Cast-Off Coven

A Cast-Off Coven series #2
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged Audiobook, Listening Length: 8 hours and 41 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio, Release Date: November 19, 2012

A CAST-OFF COVEN is a fabulous second entry into the Witchcraft series by Juliet Blackwell featuring Lily Ivory, owner of the vintage clothing store Aunt Cora's Closet, located in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Oscar, Lily’s "familiar" given to her by a powerful male witch, is turning into an asset even if he does push the boundaries of being a goblin/gargoyle mix in private and a miniature pot-bellied pig everyone loves in public.

The School of Fine Arts in San Francisco has discovered a previously sealed off room on the second floor of the tower building, but all the students will not go there, swearing they hear noises and voices. An argument between Aidan, who gave Oscar to Lily, ensues in the cafeteria which is buzzing with activity on a Friday evening. Lily agrees to meet a friend employee named Andromeda at the school where she will help find the chest full of women’s unmentionables discovered when the closet was unsealed. Instead they find her wealthy father at the bottom of a set of stairs in a pool of his own blood.

Did he fall down the stairs? Was he pushed?  Did a spirit from the closet do him harm?  The possibilities are too great and information too slim. Lily wants to get her hands on those clothes and see what sort of spirits she's dealing with. When she gets to the closet, it is locked, by the spirits within. They try to scare Lily away with a windstorm, rain, heat, etc., none of which work. Lily finally leaves out of impatience, and the closet door pops open yet no one is there.

Another murder at the school occurs, and Lily goes to check it out. Plus, she figures she'll give that closet another try. Finding the closet unsealed means that one, some, or all those spirits might have gotten out of the closet, possibly to murder (again?) She enters the closet, and there is a mirror hung on the wall which Lily quickly avoids, since strange things happen to spirits in mirrors (there is a fuller explanation about mirrors in Blackwell’s next book).

Lily finds the trunk of undergarments which supposedly belonged to some French women, possibly nuns since they came to America with a group of nuns. Their behavior got them sealed into the closet, not opened until present day.

Ownership of the trunk, the identity of the owners of the garments, identities of who was murdered and their connection to the trunk, all must be sorted out to solve this conundrum. Lily brings the trunk's contents back to Cora's Closet, and staff and customers all began looking through them before Lily can do her usual clean, mend, wash routine on them.

What has happened to the spirits? What is the relationship between the murder victims and the victims to the spirits? Were the women nuns?

I love how Juliet Blackwell weaves in the history of the School of Fine Arts and the buildings it occupies and information about ghosts and spirits. Facts are woven through fiction so easily that I began to wonder what was true. Quite a tangled web was woven by the end of this wonderful book. Xe Sands’ narration brought it all to life with her voice, subtle nuances, and genuine sounding curiosity.  Well worth reading.               
Sandie Herron

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