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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Casting Spells

by Barbara Bretton


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Casting Spells

by Barbara Bretton

Reviewed February 14, 2011.
Berkley Books, New York, 2008. 308 pages.
Starred Review
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #6 Fiction

Happy Valentine's Day! Today I'm appropriately posting the review of a romance, but this one is a paranormal knitting mystery romance! The combination is delightfully original and a whole lot of fun.

Here's how we meet Chloe Hobbs:

By the way, I'm Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & Strings, voted the number one knit shop in New England two years running. I don't know exactly who did the voting, but I owe each of those wonderful knitters some quiviut and a margarita. Blog posts about the magical store in northern Vermont where your yarn never tangles, your sleeves always come out the same length, and you always, always get gauge were popping up on a daily basis, raising both my profile and my bottom line.

Chloe's store seems magical because it is. She's the daughter of a sorceress who fell in love with a human. But her father died in a car crash when she was six years old, and her mother chose to leave this world to be with the man she loved. Chloe inherited several things from her mother including a basket of roving that remained full to overflowing no matter how many hours she spends spinning it into yarn. But she also inherited a responsibility to the town.

Over three hundred years ago one of my sorcerer ancestors cast a protective charm over the town designed to shield Sugar Maple from harm for as long as one of her line walked the earth and -- well, you guessed it. I'm the last descendant of Aerynn, and if you thought your family was on your case to marry and produce offspring, try having an entire town mixing potions, casting runes, and weaving spells designed to hook you up with Mr. Right.

Unfortunately, the protective spell seems to be weakening. And there's more than just protection from accidents and crime at stake. Because Sugar Maple "wasn't the picture-postcard New England town our Chamber of Commerce would have you believe, but a village of vampires, werewolves, elves, faeries, and everything else your parents told you didn't really exist." However, Chloe's mother really came into her powers when she fell in love, so maybe that's all that Chloe needs.

But then a visiting beautiful stranger dies. The first tourist or nonvillager ever to die within town limits. Aerynn's spell is definitely waning, because that's not supposed to happen.

Sugar Maple doesn't have any police force, since it doesn't have any crime. So a policeman from Boston, who knew the deceased, goes up to the scene of the crime to investigate.

What follows is funny and quirky and full of surprises. Can the whole town hide the truth from him? And what will happen to the town if the spell fails? What will happen to Chloe?

I must admit, the romance is not exactly subtle. As Chloe begins to have magick, it basically throws her into the guy's arms. But it is humorous to read about her trying to explain it!

This book is a light-hearted romp through a most imaginative situation. Definitely the best paranormal-romance-knitting-mystery I've ever read! And there are knitting tips at the back! How can you go wrong?