Slow everything else too. Ore's hardcover debut, a Southern- fried tale of contemporary magic, begins in California, where Maude is feigning madness in order to claim welfare benefits. But her family are witches, and soon she receives a call from Bracken County, Va., where grandmother Partridge lies dying. Maude is drawn into a battle between Partridge and the rest of the family--ancient aunt Betty and her husband, Luke, cousin Terry and her ambitious, gun-nut husband, John, who shoots a young black boy and steals his soul. Maude's boyfriend, Doug, arrives and, attracted by the idea of magic, begins to side with John. What Doug doesn't understand is that magic emanates from powerful ``entities'' indifferent to human needs; science works for anyone, but you must be born to magic. Maude's talent is an ability to slow time, but in using it she risks Betty gaining control over her. Long-winded narrative chat delivered in a juiceless monotone, with concepts not fully thought out. Intriguing sometimes, but uninvolving.