Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Have You Heard? - A Vision in Velvet by Juliet Blackwell,204,203,200_.jpgA Vision in Velvet
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Sands Xe
Unabridged Audiobook
Publisher: Tantor Audio; July 1, 2014
ISBN-10: 1494551063
ISBN-13: 978-1494551063
5 stars *****
It seems that there are no seams between books in the Lily Ivory mystery series by Juliet Blackwell. She ends one and then another begins as if there were no time gap. A VISION IN VELVET begins with an antiques dealer named Sebastian offering Lily, proprietress of Aunt Cora's Closet, an old trunk full of old clothes, something Lily would normally be excited about, until she looked closely. The trunk traveled over with the pilgrims and then to California with the gold rush, barely holding together. The clothes were in terrible shape, but one item intrigued Lily enough to bargain with Sebastian to buy the trunk. Lily finds a deep gold velvet cape with a purple silk lining, purple and gold fringe decorating the neckline with a silk-lined hood hanging down the back, and an ornate brass frog toggle fastening the neckline.

Lily swirled the cape around herself and fastened the closure at her neck without seeing the alarm in her familiar, Oscar's, eyes. Lily was immediately transported to another place and time. She felt a river of cold wash over her followed by heat with unintelligible sounds, As the images began to coalesce, Lily saw an angry mob pointing at her, jeering, and calling out curses.

Bronwyn's concerned voice made it through as she shook Lily and undid the clasp to the cape which caused it to slip from her shoulders. When Lily gathered herself together, she knew this was special and began tracking down its source immediately, but calls to Sebastian went unanswered. Lily noticed that Conrad didn't look too well either. He was a "gutterpunk" and explained that while he had a good sleeping spot, he'd been working hard at a petition to not cut down a particular ancient oak tree nicknamed Miss Quercus near the science museum. Apparently she was rotten on the inside, yet even in that state supported all sorts of life such as squirrels, woodpeckers, frogs, and even mushrooms. The town wanted to cut it down so it didn't hurt anyone, but Conrad and his friends wanted to save it as long as possible.

Lily had a premonition that something was very wrong. She tried to put facts together such as the cape, Conrad sleeping under the tree and developing headaches, so she asked to see the tree. Lily and Conrad walked there via different routes, and just as Lily arrived, she heard two shots and found Conrad kneeling over a bloody Sebastian, next to fresh digging at the base of the tree.

After dinner and meeting members of Sebastian's family, one of whom knew that cape had spent time in Salem Massachusetts. Lily still had to wait til the next night to check it out again. She put it on again, aware finally that she was there where they were burning witches and she was gathering ashes. Oscar warned her about bringing things back from another dimension. It led to a conversation about Miss Quercus, and Oscar said if they visited her, any woodlands creatures would appreciate a gift because they really don't like humans; and the best time to meet them was dawn or very early.

Lily and Oscar finally visited early the next morning. It was cold and foggy. No one else was there except the critters who lived there. The massive tree sent a branch to scare Lily. Rustling was going on in the top of the branches. Oscar was growling at it and then scooted up the tree, not to come down.

Lily was beside herself; no Oscar? Ever again? She couldn't stand it. The shop became "Pig Central" when Conrad and his friends put out posters and lost pig ads all over town. Even Maya and Bronwyn joined in the search for Oscar. Only Lily and Sailor knew he'd disappeared up the tree. Somehow she had to piece together all her clues, get help from her grandmother and her coven as well as the friendly coven in San Francisco and Sailor and even Aidan. Would they save Miss Quercus or will she be cut down as planned? Will Conrad recover from being poisoned? With all those women concentrating together against the witch who had been burned at the stake, will they be strong enough to find Oscar? You'll only know if you read the book.

Sandie Herron

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