Equal parts amateur whodunit, supernatural fantasy, and quirky romance, The Trouble with Magic -- the first installment of Madelyn Alt's Bewitching Mystery saga -- features Maggie O'Neill, a woman at a crossroads of what has thus far been an uneventful life.
Single, almost 30, and recently terminated from a lousy collections job, Maggie's life in small-town Indiana is at a standstill -- until she fatefully meets Felicity Dow, the owner of an upscale antiques and fine-gifts shop. The two women hit it off immediately, and Maggie is hired on as Felicity's assistant. Felicity -- who happens to be a witch and the head of a group that investigates paranormal encounters in and around northeastern Indiana -- introduces Maggie to an exciting, consciousness-expanding world that includes Wiccanism, spirits, and ghosts; but before Maggie can even finish a full day of work, the estranged sister of her new boss is found murdered in her home, and the good-hearted witch is tagged as the prime suspect. With rumors running rampant and circumstantial evidence piling up, Maggie must somehow find the real killer before Felicity is figuratively burned alive at the stake.
Although fast-paced, lighthearted, and charmingly witty, Alt's The Trouble with Magic tackles some weighty topics (religious intolerance and persecution, the karmic Rule of Three, etc.) with both subtlety and style. This debut novel in the Bewitching Mystery saga is not only a page-turner of the highest order but also the beginning of what should be a highly entertaining paranormal-powered series. Paul Goat Allen