I agree with the articles I have been seeing that reads for this season do not have to be necessarily horror, just moody. This is absolutely a moody, nuanced season. It can be dark without being horror. I have been stealing that idea a little when I have been choosing the reads I will feature this month as I am scrambling to catch the rest of my challenge reads.
The two books today feature witches! Because this is not a nuanced season without magic and spiritualism.
Let’s start with a cozy mystery. Fall is also cozy, in it’s best form:
A Spell of Trouble, Leighann Dobbs and Traci Douglass
The quintessential cozy. I might be so in love with this genre that I can pick out the elements of a cozy as I am blowing through it. The setting is in a mostly paranormal populated New England town, which I am realizing is a popular setting for many of the books I pick up. Most of the characters have supernatural abilities and use them under the noses of the non paranormals, and then we have a love interest who is out to determine the main character’s innocence who is not sure that he believes in magic. And there is a rule about mixing paranormals with non in romance and how it does not work. (Reminds me of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, which is never a bad thing). And this guy who rolls in from a secret division of the FBI to investigate is bewitching to boot, despite his skepticism, if you will excuse the pun. There is a real murder of a meddling witch in the course of the plot, but as this is set up to be a series, the love affair clearly will last past the mystery of who used dark magic to kill the mean witch and sifting through the many possible motives. A cozy does not exist without a cat-and-mouse love affair with bursts of intermittent reinforcement to keep us going, even if we know they will end up together. This is fun and light.
But then there was my other witchy read:
The Witch of Painted Sorrows, M.J.Rose
Absolutely darker and more nuanced than A Spell of Trouble. And very sexy. I don’t tend to read books with a lot of sex, which wouldn’t surprise any readers who have seen that I tend to post on classics, historical fiction, YA, and the challenges that work me out of these. And cozies, which focus more on the tension and the buildup than the actual affair. But it makes sense that a witch book would be sexy, as sex was one of the few ways that women could have any power, and I think men resented them this endemic source of power and sought to remove it by having any woman in power accused of witchcraft.
A woman, Sandrine, flees her unhappy marriage when her father dies unexpectedly to take refuge with her grandmother, a famous courtesan in Paris in the late 1800s. When she finds that her grandmother has moved out of the house the family has had for generations and takes up a separate residence, Sandrine becomes curious and returns to the house despite her grandmother’s warnings, getting drawn into a generations old family curse that she is ambivalent about breaking free from. Some of the curse involves having mind blowing sex and incredible talent at painting and a respectable career as a painter, so I am not sure who would really want to give that up after being trapped in marriage to a scheming man who essentially rapes her as their marital relations. Like, for real.
Of course I love All Souls, and that would be a sweet trilogy to devour during the month of October, too. It is a good season to get involved in such a series.
I started The Witches of Eastwick, as that is a TBR hanger, but I needed it on audio to get swept into Updike’s prose and I was being lazy about getting it. It was a hard style shift between that and The Fountainhead, which I was tackling at the time.
Comments/questions/shares are always appreciated!