Come for the waffles. Stay for the magic.
Carlie McEwan loves many things.
She loves being a witch. She loves her town of Halfway, NY—a tourist destination nestled on the shores of an Adirondack lake. Carlie loves her enormous familiar, Gus, who is twenty-five pounds of judgmental Maine Coon cat, and she positively worships her Grandmother, a witch of incredible power and wisdom. Carlie spends her days cooking at the finest—and only—real diner in town, and her life is a balance between magic and the mundane, just as she likes it.
When a blonde stranger sits at the diner counter and calls her by name, that balance is gone. Major Pickford asks Carlie to lead him into the deepest shadows of the forest to find a mythical circle of chestnut trees, thought lost to forever to mankind. There are ghosts in the forest, and one of them cries out to Carlie across the years–Come find me.
Like the forest shadows, danger can run deep. The threat is real, but Carlie’s magic is born of a pure spirit. With the help of Gus, and Gran, and a rugged cop who really does want to save the world, she’ll fight to bring a ghost home, and deliver justice to a murderer who hides in the cool, mysterious green of a forest gone mad with magic.
Thank you to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
I would have given this book 5 stars, however I read the second book in the series first and it blew my socks off. This one blew off roughly 20% less sock in comparison, teaching me to read series in order from now on.
Carlie is a powerful young witch who watches over her little secluded town with her Gran. She’s short, snarky, waffle eating woman with a series of really bad hair days – so I could instantly relate to her.
She cares for others deeply, feeling their losses and working tirelessly to help them. Her powers are largely used to make the world a safer and better place for the people around her, with the addition of a healthy amount of glaring and sarcasm, she manages to avoid being too much of a goody-goody.
When she is approached by an investigator with a proposal to rediscover some trees previously thought to be extinct, she’s all for it – she gears up for the adventure, but soon learns that the trees are connected to a deeper, darker mystery which ties in with her own family history. As she seeks to lay those particular ghosts to rest, she bumps into some sassy Whisps and a sexy Viking.
All of the characters in this book had fully formed personalities, which I find a relief after my recent unlucky streak of books with poorly described characters. Each character was interesting in their own way and because of Carlie’s intuitive nature, you could get a feeling for the motivations behind all of their actions.
The flow of this story is excellent, it takes place in first person from Carlie’s perspective – she’s funny and utterly compelling. I loved being inside her head and already know that I’ll be happy to wedge myself back in there for the rest of the series.
Maggert is also a sly author… while exploiting his excellent command of the English language by writing a very witty and enjoyable story, he throws in some more archaic/difficult words to educate you when you’re not looking (see: blatting and coruscation). What makes it worse is that it fits in with the narrative completely and you realise once you’ve finished the book and written half of a blog post reviewing it, that you’ve just read a cerebral novel which mentions vampire badgers.
So, Story: Loved It. Characters: Loved Them. Style: Fabulous, but gets even better in the next book.
In a last gushing statement about this book, I love the cover. It may be down to envy of the hand model’s ability to wear rings without looking like a pack of blinged up sausages, but I like to think I’m not that shallow (though I am). There’s a strong possibility this is going to make it to my physical bookshelf following the ‘hopefully this summer’ house move.
‘”Good gravy. Vampire badgers? Is that a thing?”‘ ~ Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert