The ever unpredictable, loopy Grant, who specializes in midworlds (Tex and Molly in the Afterlife, 1996, etc.), takes us--with little allure--into a frigid and tree-filled New England 'burb near Mount Wabenaki, where witches stir their brews. A husbandless young wiccan, Pippa Rede, works in the Rose Petal and Thorn flower shop supporting herself and her adorably sensible nine-year-old daughter, the elfin Winterbelle. Pippa is often distraught, but the sweet Winterbelle helps soothe her buffetings. Then the local Herald begins printing attacks on satanism, pointing to Pippa. It's all very unfair--she is, after all, only a friendly, contemporary young witch trying to make it on her own, for heaven's sake. At school Winterbelle seems to outwit meddling psychologist Carol Aaby, who nonetheless comes that night to the Rede home with the Department of Family Services and removes Winterbelle from the house of witchcraft. Things get worse as Pippa is fired from the Rose Petal and Thorn for being scary to Christians during the shop's big Christmas season. Will the editor of the Herald consider helping her? Will lawyer Arthur Torvid, fuming about Constitutional rights, come to her aid? Not bloody likely when psychologist Aaby calls Pippa the Devil's pawn and the Herald prints an alarmist letter about ""ritual abuse."" Pippa finally gets help from an unexpected source: Spear, a Native American law-school dropout, has developed a special personal interest in people who are doing something that doesn't make sense to anybody else--such as wiccans--and he proves more than a match for Pippa's many enemies. The bad guys are one-dimensional, the conflict hopelessly banal. Here, sentimentality flattens all interest.