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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Secondhand Spirits: Book Review

Wise Woman lent me a library copy of Secondhand Spirits  the other day. This first book  in the "Witchcraft Mystery Series", is written  under the pseudonym Juliet Blackwell.  If I was Juliet, I would be proud to put my real name on the cover. 

This is a fun, for the most part, pretty lighhearted, read. Lily Ivory, the main character, owns a vintage clothing store in the Haight region of San Franciso. Lily also just happens to be a witch with some pretty potent spell-casting powers.  Lily is, to the witch world, a bit like what the Stephanie Plum character in Janet Evanovich's series is to the bounty hunter world. Lily somewhat reluctantly ends up brewing spells to combat some pretty evil forces. Lily is good at her craft, not so good perhaps at managing her social life.

Although this doesn't read like a serious book in any way, the subject matter is pretty dark and well researched. References are even provided as sources for the particular spells that are used. The particulalry evil demon named La Llorna  that Lily takes on has legandary roots as well.

La Llorna is the name for the weeping woman in Mexican forklore.  She is said to have drowned her own children to be with the man she loved. When the man rejects her, La Llorona kills herself.  As the legand goes, La Llorna is not admitted to the afterlife because she has killed her children. So she haunts the "inbetween", kidnapping children and wailing on certain full-moon nights.

I finished the book, all is well, and yet I find myself reflecting a bit on the title "Secondhand Spirits". When I read this novel it was stormy, windy and raining.  The air was oppressive with humidity.  It seemed as though many of the real- life humans in my part of the world were matching the weather. The news was full of death and destruction. The headlines were of tornadoes, air-plane crashes, and the somewhat sudden death of a prominent polititcian from cancer. It seemed that everyone was a bit drawn into a negative energy cycle. Chaos and tears seemed to match the wind and the rain.

Today, is a picture perfect day.  It's sunny, warm but not hot, calm and clear out- beautiful. And yet, it seems we humans, don't change our energy quite as quickly as the weather. Perhaps we carry around those "Secondhand Spirits" a bit.

The spirits in Blackwell's book are not happy.  Then again, it would seem that, aside from Casper the Friendly Ghost, most aren't.  La Llorona is particularly tortured, and it would seem she strives to bring others down to the depts of the sea with her.  Hmm...

Lily brews protective spells to counteract the negativity.  Now that sounds like a good idea.  I admit I considered some of her recipes. I even looked up the plant mandrake and for a brief moment considered trying my hand at creating a mandragora like the one described in the book. I decided the care and feeding  of such a creature might be more responsibility than I could handle.

The witch's coven, the cauldron, the protective potions, all sounded good in the wind and the rain.  Now that the sun is out, I think a bit of Bach Flower essences might be an easier way to go. The Bach Flower essence  Aspen is a good remedy to consider if you find yourself a bit drawn into the negative world of others.  It provides some protection from that type of thing. The Violet Flame is also a good source of protection from the negativity of others  It seems much easier to get pulled into chaos and disorder than peace and calm and sometimes a bit of protection is required.

I think Lily Ivory could use some Aspen and Larch.  She seems to need the type of protection Aspen provides and Larch might help her feel more self-confident to pursue her craft. Walnut might help with all the change going on around her as well.  La Llorona just needs a really hefty dose of Pine to get rid of all that guilt, Star of Bethlehem to ease the shock of rejection, and definatly Sweet Chestnut for the angst. Perhaps some Cherry Plum could have prevented the breakdown in the first place, and a bit of Centuary might have helped her realize she probably didn't need that guy in the first place!!

Then again, you can just read the book and enjoy it for the lighthearted mystery it is meant to be. Perhaps it's better to read it on a sunny day. But if you want the full effect- pick a "dark and stormy night". I'm off to the bookmobile to pick up the next two in the series!

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