Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld Series #3)

Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld Series #3)

4.3 332
by Kelley Armstrong

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From Canada's new queen of suspense, another hugely entertaining supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Prepare to be enchanted . . .

Forget the cackling green hag in The Wizard of Oz, forget Samantha from Bewitched. Real witches are nothing, NOTHING like this. For years real witches have hidden their powers, afraid of…  See more details below


From Canada's new queen of suspense, another hugely entertaining supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Prepare to be enchanted . . .

Forget the cackling green hag in The Wizard of Oz, forget Samantha from Bewitched. Real witches are nothing, NOTHING like this. For years real witches have hidden their powers, afraid of being persecuted. They have integrated so well into the community, you could have a witch living right next door and never know about it. Take Paige, for instance, whom we first met in Kelley Armstrong's novel Stolen. Just an ordinary twenty-something who runs her own website design company, worries about her weight and wonders if she'll ever find a boyfriend. Okay, so she's leader of the American Coven and guardian of Savannah, the teenage daughter of a black witch. Really, life is ordinary. But then a telekinetic half-demon, Leah O'Donnell, shows up to fight for custody of Savannah. And although Paige is ready for her, she's not quite so prepared for the team of supernaturals that Leah brings with her, including a powerful sorcerer who claims to be Savannah's father.

When all hell breaks loose -- literally -- and Paige is accused of witchcraft, Satanism and murder, the Coven, fearing exposure, abandons her. Cut off from her friends, Paige is forced against her better judgment to accept the help of a young sorcerer lawyer. And she quickly comes to realize that keeping Savannah could mean losing everything else.

Breathtakingly thrilling, hip and funny, this new novel is another page-turning triumph from an author who is going from strength to strength.

"I had a feeding frenzy on myfront lawn, an unconscious paranormal investigator on my stairs, and, somewhere out there, an entire Cabal special projects team devoted to ruining my life." -- from Dime Store Magic

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Armstrong's successful Women of the Otherworld series continues with yet another captivating female lead who just happens to be the leader of the American Coven and guardian of a witch's daughter. As always, Armstrong's combination of cutting wit and unconventional characters are a refreshing addition to the horror genre. Luckily, Laural Merlington is well versed in Armstrong's style of writing and breathes freshness into this story. Her reading is entertaining and uncomplicated, making this otherworldly tale believable. Merlington offers a variety of different tones and voices, changing things at every twist and turn to keep listeners engaged. Much like protagonists in Armstrong's series, Merlington is a strong, engaging individual sure to keep her audience enthralled. A Spectra paperback (Reviews, Mar. 29, 2004). (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Much like protagonists in Armstrong's series, [narrator Laural] Merlington is a strong, engaging individual sure to keep her audience enthralled." —Publishers Weekly Audio Review

Product Details

Little, Brown Book Group Limited
Publication date:
Women of the Otherworld Series, #3
Product dimensions:
4.37(w) x 7.13(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

I was in trouble with the elders. Again.

I'd been a trial to them all my life and now, at twenty-three—no longer a precocious child or a rebellious youth—they were running out of excuses for me.

"Something must be done about Savannah." The speaker phone added a not-inappropriate whine to Victoria Alden's voice.

"Uh-huh." My fingers flew across the keyboard, hammering out the next line of code.

"I hear typing," Victoria said. "Are you typing, Paige?"

"Deadline," I said. "Enhancements to the Springfield Legal Services Web site. Due in two days. And counting. Look, can we discuss this later? I'll be at the Coven meeting next week, and—"

"Next week? I don't think you're taking this seriously, Paige. Pick up the telephone, stop working, and talk to me. Where did you ever learn such manners? Not from your mother, rest her soul."

I lifted the receiver, gripped it between my shoulder and ear and tried to type quietly.

"It's about Savannah," Victoria said.

Wasn't it always? One of the few perks of having custody of thirteen-year-old Savannah Levine was that my rebellions paled in comparison.

"What's she done now?" I asked. I flipped to my file list of JavaScript functions. I was sure I'd written a function for this last year. Damned if I could find it now.

"Well, I was talking to Grace last night and she expressed concern over something Savannah told Brittany. Now, Grace admits Brittany may have misunderstood the details, which I can certainly see. We don't expose Coven neophytes to this sort of thing, so I'd be shocked if Brittany did understand what Savannah was talking about. It seems—" Victoria paused and inhaled sharply, as if it pained her to go on. "It seems Brittany is having trouble with a few girls at school and Savannah offered to . . . to help her make a potion that would result in these girls being unable to attend the school dance."

"Uh-huh." Ah, there was that function. A few hours of coding saved. "Then what?"

"What do you mean, 'then what'? Savannah offered to show Brittany how to make these girls sick!"

"She's thirteen. At her age, I would have liked to make a lot of people sick."

"But you didn't, did you?"

"Only because I didn't know the spells. Which was probably a good thing or there'd have been some serious epidemics going on."

"See?" Victoria said. "This is exactly what I've been talking about. This attitude of yours—"

"I thought we were talking about Savannah's attitude."

"That's it exactly. I'm trying to bring a serious matter to your attention and you brush it off with quips. This flippant attitude will never make you Coven Leader."

I stifled the urge to remind her that, as of my mother's death, I was Coven Leader. If I did, she'd "remind" me that I was Leader in name only, and this discussion would turn from irritating to ugly in a heartbeat.

"Savannah is my responsibility," I said. "You Elders have made that very clear."

"For good reason."

"Because her mother practiced dark magic. Oooh. Scary. Well, you know what? The only scary thing about Savannah is how fast she's outgrowing her clothes. She's a kid. A normal, rebellious teenager. Not a black witch. She told Brit she could make her a potion. Big deal. Ten to one she can't even do it. She was either showing off or trying to shock us. That's what adolescents do."

"You're defending her."

"Of course I'm defending her. No one else will. The poor kid went through hell last summer. Before my mother died, she asked me to take care of Savannah—"

"Or so that woman told you."

"That woman is a friend of mine. You don't think my mother would have asked me to take Savannah? Of course she would. That's our job. To protect our sisters."

"Not at the risk of endangering ourselves."

"Since when is it more important—"

"I don't have time to argue with you, Paige. Talk to Savannah or I will."


I slammed down the phone and stalked from my office, muttering everything I wished I'd said to Victoria. I knew when to hold my tongue, though sometimes knowing and doing were very different things. My mother was the political one. She'd spend years working to effect one small change to Coven Law, soothing every rumpled feather and arguing her point with a smile.

Now she was gone. Murdered nine months ago. Nine months, three weeks, and two days. My mind performed the calculation unbidden, springing open the stoppered well of grief. I slammed it shut. She wouldn't have wanted that.

I was brought into this world for one reason. At fifty-two, after a life too busy for children, my mother looked around the Coven and saw no worthy successor, so she found a suitable "genetic donor" and, using magic, conceived me. A daughter born and raised to lead the Coven. Now that she was gone, I had to honor her memory by fulfilling that purpose. And I would, whether the Elders wanted it or not.

I abandoned my computer. Victoria's call had chased all interest in programming from my brain. When I got like this, I needed to do something that reminded me of who I was, and what I wanted to accomplish. That meant practicing my spells—not Coven-sanctioned spells, but the magic they forbade.

In my bedroom, I pulled back the area rug, unlocked the crawl space hatch, and tugged out a knapsack. Then, bending down and reaching farther into the hole, I undid a secret latch, opened a second compartment, and pulled out two books. My secret grimoires. After putting the books into my bag, I headed for the back door.

I was slipping on my sandals when the front doorknob turned. I checked my watch. Three p.m. Savannah didn't get out of school until three forty-five, which is why I figured I had nearly an hour to practice before making her after-school snack. Yes, Savannah was too old for the milk-and-cookies routine, but I did it every day without fail. Let's be honest, at twenty-three I was ill equipped to parent a teenager. Being home for her after school was one thing I could manage.

"What happened?" I asked, hurrying into the hall. "Is everything okay?"

Savannah backpedaled, as if fearing I might do something rash, like hug her. "Teacher's meeting today. Early dismissal. Remember?"

"Did you tell me?"

She rubbed her nose, trying to decide whether she could get away with a lie. "I forgot. But I would have called if I had a cell phone."

"You'll get a cell phone when you can pay for the airtime."

"But I'm too young to get a job!"

"Then you're too young for a cell phone."

Old argument. We knew our lines, and never wavered from them. That was one advantage to being a mere decade older than Savannah—I remembered pulling the same crap with my mom, so I knew how to handle it. Maintain the routine. Give no sign of wearing down. Eventually she'd give up . . . not that I ever did.

Savannah peered over my shoulder to look down at my backpack, a feat she could easily manage, being two inches taller than my five feet two. Two inches taller and about thirty pounds lighter. I could have explained the weight difference by pointing out that Savannah was very slender, but to be truthful, I was about fifteen pounds over what most women's magazines listed as the ideal weight for my height.

Savannah, by contrast, was very tall for her age: tall, thin, and coltish, all awkward angles and jutting limbs. I told her she'd grow into her body, as she'd grow into her oversized blue eyes. She didn't believe me. Like she didn't believe me when I'd advised her that cutting off her waist-length black hair would be a mistake. Now she had a straight, wispy bob that only made the angles of her face even more prominent. Naturally, she blamed me, because I didn't forbid her to cut her hair, instead of just cautioning against it.

"Heading out for spell practice?" she said, pointing at my knapsack. "What are you working on?"

"Making you a snack. White milk or chocolate?"

Dramatic sigh. "Come on, Paige. I know what kind of stuff you practice. I don't blame you. Those Coven spells are for five-year-olds."

"Five-year-olds don't cast spells."

"Neither does the Coven. Not real spells. Oh, come on. We can work together. Maybe I can get that wind spell working for you."

I turned to look at her.

"You wrote in your journal that you were having trouble with it," she said. "Sounds like a cool spell. My mom never had anything like that. Tell you what—you teach me that one and I'll show you some real magic."

"You read my journal?"

"Just the spell practice journal. Not your personal one."

"How do you know I have a personal one?"

"Do you? Hey, you know what happened at school today? Mr. Ellis told me he's sending two of my paintings to get framed. They're going to hang them at graduation next week."

Savannah headed for the kitchen, still talking. Should I pursue the journal comment? I considered, then rejected it. Instead I hefted my knapsack and headed to my room to return the bag to its hiding spot.

If Savannah did read my personal journal, at least it meant she was taking an interest in me. Which was good. Unless she was snooping in hopes of finding something she could use to blackmail me into buying her a cell phone. Which wouldn't be so good. What exactly did I have in my journal, anyway. . .?

While I was locking away my bag, the doorbell rang. Savannah shouted "Got it" and thundered into the hallway, making enough noise for someone three times her size. When I walked into the living room a few minutes later, she was standing in the hall doorway, lifting a letter to the light and squinting at it.

"Testing your psychic abilities?" I said. "A letter opener works much faster."

She jumped and jerked the letter down, hesitated, then held it out.

"Ah, for me. In that case, I'd advise steaming it open." I took the letter. "Registered mail? That bumps it up from simple mail fraud to mail fraud plus forgery. I hope you're not using that skill to sign my name to any notes at school."

"As if," she said, heading back toward the kitchen. "What would be the good of skipping school in this town? No mall, no Starbucks, not even a Mickey D's."

"You could hang around outside the hardware store with the rest of the kids."

She snorted and disappeared into the kitchen.

The envelope was standard letter-sized, no unusual markings, just my name and address handwritten in clean, exact strokes and a return address preprinted in the upper left corner. The sender? A California law firm.

I tore it open. My eyes went straight to the first line, which requested—no, demanded—my presence at a meeting tomorrow morning. The first thing I thought was: "Oh, shit." I suppose that's the normal reaction for anyone receiving an unexpected legal summons.

I assumed it had something to do with my business. I created and managed company Web sites for women tired of male Web designers who thought they'd want nothing more technically challenging than floral wallpaper. When it comes to the Internet, the issue of copyright is as murky and convoluted as a celebrity prenup so, seeing a letter filled with legal jargon, I assumed I'd done something like design a Flash sequence that inadvertently bore some passing similarity to one on a Web site in Zaire.

Then I read the next line.

"The purpose of this meeting is to discuss our client's petition for custody of the juvenile, Savannah Levine . . ."

I closed my eyes and inhaled. Okay, I'd known this could happen. Savannah's only living relative was one of the Coven Elders, but I always assumed Savannah's mother might have had friends who would be wondering what became of Eve and her young daughter. When they discovered that a great-aunt had taken custody of Savannah and handed her over to me, they'd want answers. And they might want Savannah.

Naturally, I'd fight. The problem was that Savannah's aunt Margaret was the weakest of the three Elders, and if Victoria insisted Margaret relinquish custody, she would. The Elders hated trouble; they broke into collective hives at the mere prospect of drawing attention to the Coven. To secure their support, I'd need to persuade them that they'd face graver personal danger by giving up Savannah than by keeping her. With the Elders, it always came down to that: what was best for them, safest for them.

I scanned the rest of the letter, sifting through the legal jargon to find the petitioner's name. When I found it, my stomach dropped to my shoes. I couldn't believe it. No, strike that. I believed it only too well. Cursed myself for not seeing it coming.

Did I mention how my mother died? Last year, a small group of humans learned about the supernatural world and wanted to harness our powers, so they kidnapped a sampling of powerful supernaturals. One of those was Savannah's mother, Eve. Savannah had the misfortune to be home from school that day and was taken as well.

Eve, however, quickly proved more dangerous than her captors expected, so they killed her. As a replacement, they targeted my mother, the elderly leader of the Coven. My mother was taken, along with Elena Michaels, a werewolf. There they met another captive, a half-demon who would later kill my mother and blame Savannah—part of an intricate plot to take control of Savannah, and so gain access to a young, malleable, and extremely powerful neophyte witch.

That half-demon's name? Leah O'Donnell. The same name that now stared up at me from the custody petition.

Chapter Two

Home Security

Leah was a telekinetic half-demon of the highest order. A half-demon is the offspring of a male demon and a female human. Half-demons always look human, taking after their mother. What they inherit from their father depends on what kind of demon he is. For Leah, that power was telekinesis. That means she could move things with her mind. Only don't think sideshow spoon-bending. Think of a woman who can mentally hurl a steel desk into a wall—literally into a wall, with such force that the desk embeds itself in the plaster and obliterates anything in its path.

Not surprisingly, then, the first thing I did upon reading this letter was rush around securing the house. After fastening the door locks and pulling the blinds, I moved to less conventional security. At each door I cast a lock spell, which would hold them closed even if the dead bolts failed. Next I used perimeter spells at all the doors and windows. Think of perimeter spells as supernatural security systems. No one could enter the house without my knowing it.

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From the Publisher
"Much like protagonists in Armstrong's series, [narrator Laural] Merlington is a strong, engaging individual sure to keep her audience enthralled." —-Publishers Weekly Audio Review

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Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld Series #3) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 323 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Any time that one is facing a trial is not a good time, but when one is a witch, the trouble factor is cubed, as Paige Winterbourne soon learns. Facing a custody challenge for the neophyte witch, Savannah, whom she has cared for during the last year, she turns to her coven for support; however, the old biddies are less than helpful. Gambling on using a human lawyer to fight magical opponents should have been a good risk, but it turned out to be a deadly one for the human after he wins the first round. That is when Cortez appears, a very young sorcerer/ lawyer, looking to make a name for himself away from his Cabal. At first, Paige is reluctant to accept his help, but as her coven deserts her completely, the town makes her a pariah, and her enemies seem to hold all the good cards, she has no choice. When Savannah becomes a woman, officially, things go from bad to abysmal rapidly. As the dark side beckons, will Paige's love be strong enough to save Savannah from herself? ***** Without any doubt in my mind, I can say that Dime Store Magic is the best book in this series that has been excellent since Book I. Light humor makes the dramatic ending stand out in sharp contrast. Most laudable is the fact that each book in this series stands alone and complete, so that you can enter it at any point; and though are eager for the next book, readers are not left dangling in mid air. *****
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although the premise for this book had promise, the execution in the writing and character development left a lot to be desired. The book was slow, the "heroine" was anything but, and the relationships between the characters could use a lot of work. Paige was NEVER sure of anything throughout the entire book. Whiny, pathetic, and boring, I found myself rooting for Lea who seemed so much more interesting. At times times, I found myself fast forwarding the book (recorded book on tape) just to get through the boring sections, only to find out that I needed to just skip chapters instead of paragraphs. The scene? Yup, skipped that too. It was unwarranted and did not even need to be placed in the book. We're supposed to believe that supposed good girl Paige had a rump in the sack with the lawyer she just met??? Disgusting. I read "No humans involved" and loved the idea of the book and the characters, so I began at the beginning of Armstrong's collection of books. I have to say, Bitten was disappointing (no desire to even finish it) and now this. I don't know what it is, but Armstrong has a gift for creating unlikable female characters who seemingly can't get anything right and are so pathetic, I half wish she'd make the book stop by just killing off the character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont know what the peope who called this book the best in the series were thinking. Its such a slow story! After reading about elena, whos got more attitude and a much better personality in my opinion. It was hard to deal with paige being so dull and drab. Nothing spicy to this character at all. And her love interest is super boring. The author doesnt even tell us much detail of what he looks like. At least with clay you get a very nice visual, but not with this cortez guy (so boring i cant even remember his first name). Savannah makes me want to pull my hair out. The author writes about her little tantrums like shes a 7 year old instead of a teenager. The love scene is so vanilla in comparison to elena and clay. And you would think they would have been thrown in somewhere to help paige since her character can't seem to do much to help herself. Just a down right boring read!! Im so upset the third book didnt just keep on with elena and clay. I want my money back!!!! :-(
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Moving right along in the Women of the Otherworld series brings me to Dime Store Magic. This may be my favorite in the series thus far. There's Cabals and Covens, spells and sorcery, walking dead and ghostly spirits....pretty much everything supernatural you could want in a novel. This book has a change in main characters from the previous two. In Dime Store Magic, Paige and her young witch ward Savannah take center stage. These two witches team up with a very dashing and gallant young sorcerer lawyer named Lucas Cortez to try to fight a powerful Cabal bent on taking Savannah. There is lots of great action, a little light romance and plenty of spell casting. As always Kelley Armstrong's wit, humor and sharp dialogue make for a very fun read.
TabithaJean More than 1 year ago
Women of the Otherworld is one of my favorite series, Kelley Armstrong is by far one of my favorite authors! Coming in second to the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Kelley Armstrongs writing style is flawless. Her stories flow from start to end. I've read allot of the "newer" supernatural authors, Kelley Armstrong is probably one of the best. The entire series is GREAT! Dime Store Magic and No Humans Involved are probably my two favorite books in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book by Kelly. Read all in the series, I have they are all great.
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Openbooksociety_dot_com More than 1 year ago
Not Nearly Enough Clay!! Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi Beware of spoilers!! Paige Winterbourne is still reeling from the death of her mother, but has moved on the best she can. She had to in order to be able to care for 13 year old Savannah, whose mother was killed. Savannah is young, but is already a more powerful witch then even Paige in some areas. And, it’s Paige’s job as the coven leader to help her learn to harness and control her power. Once Paige finally feels that she and Savannah are finally getting in sync with one another, they are thrown a curve ball; Savannah’s father, a powerful sorcerer who is head of the powerful Nast Cabal (similar to a mob) sues for custody. Now it will take everything that Paige has to keep Savannah under her roof where she can be sure her magic is used for good. I really wanted to like this book, but I had pretty low expectations being as this was the first book in the Women of the Otherworld series that wasn’t focused on Clay and Elena, who I love. But I know that Kelley Armstrong is a great writer and figured that she would make me love Paige just as much. But I’m sad to say she didn’t I like Paige good enough, but I just couldn’t love her and didn’t even relate to her at all. In fact, I liked her love interest, Lucas, a lot more than I liked her. He has an interesting back-story with being the estranged son of the powerful Cortez Cabal (not to be confused with Savannah’s father’s Cabal) and being the heir even though he’s the youngest and the one that so heavily detests his father’s organization. I can’t wait to get a better look at all of this, which is bound to come out in future installments of the series. I found the pace of this book to be incredibly slow and was the main reason that I didn’t like it that much. It seemed to take forever for anything to happen. Even the relationship between Paige and Lucas took forever to happen even though you knew it was coming! This series started out so strong with Bitten, a book that I didn’t think I’d enjoy at all and one that I instantly fell in love with!! I lost a little momentum with the second installment, Stolen, but I think it was due to the lack of Clay and of course he wasn’t in this one and I think it is definitely the weakest so far in the series. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the intensity of the series picks back up soon!! I really hope the next Paige book, Industrial Magic, will be better now that her love life is already in place and that her relationship with Savannah is also secure. The storyline will hopefully be able to focus on more interesting things now. This review and more at openbooksociety dot com
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