Literary witch finds true love while foiling Satan-worshipping wannabes.
Holly, a successful historical-novelist, is a Spellbinder—a witch with a special talent: A drop of her blood can increase the potency of a magic spell. She is a crucial player in the New York Circle, presided over by Magistrate Elias, a U.S. District Judge in civilian life. Through Elias’s clerk and girlfriend, Susannah, Holly meets Evan Lachlan, a U.S. Marshall. Holly is drawn to Evan’s hunky allure and Irishness, despite his uniquely Catholic brand of alcoholic family toxicity. The two plight their troth after Lachlan learns of the powers held by Holly and Elias. Holly’s Circle practices a beneficent witchcraft with lots of herbs and colored stones, but they’re always on call to squelch cults of Satan-worship. Demonology devotee Denise is Elias’s bane. He’s prepared to shut her down permanently. When Holly’s avuncular gay mentors, Alec and Nick, sell Nick’s mystery bookshop, they don’t suspect that the new owner, Noel, is a Satanist. But Denise, a New Orleans transplant who specializes in voudon and strives to edge Holly and Anne Rice off bestseller lists, finds that Noel’s shop stocks the necessary gris-gris to thwart Elias and Holly and ensnare Evan. At a Black Mass, Noel murders Scott, the son of prominent evangelist Reverend Fleming. During a melee on the courthouse steps, Evan slugs Fleming to get him out of harm’s way, and loses his job. When Holly discovers him in full binge mode, the two separate for a year. Susannah’s murder reunites the couple. Denise knows Noel’s thugs kidnapped Susannah, another blonde, by mistake: Denise, who witnessed Scott’s murder, is Noel’s real target. The Circle divines the truth, but Noel’s plotting a mega-spell that only Holly’s blood can cinch. Redundant dialogue, extended erudite chatter, digressions and flashbacks make for an overlong read. Some interesting witchcraft arcana, though, and enough suspense to keep readers skimming, perhaps skipping, to the end.
Less than spellbinding.