A feisty Essex woman inherits a witch museum and is pulled into a hunt for the remains of an accused witch.
The Great Essex Witch Museum is a bit ramshackle and a lot hokey. So when Rosie Strange inherits it from her grandfather Septimus, she immediately decides to sell it and continue on with her perfectly contented existence as a Benefit Fraud investigator and a lover of a good hair products. But when she makes her first visit to the museum and meets the curator, Sam Stone, she is intrigued not only by him, but by the history of witchcraft in Essex, where more alleged witches were hung than anywhere else in England or America. On Rosie’s first day as the new museum owner, she and Sam are approached by a local professor who asks them to find the remains of one of Essex’s most famous accused witches. More than 400 years after the death of Ursula Cadence, a little boy has turned up apparently inhabited by the spirit of Cadence’s young son, who is asking for his mother. In order to save the boy, Sam and Rosie work to track down Ursula’s skeleton. While Moore (Witch Hunt, 2012, etc.) keeps the pace quick and the quips rolling, the novel struggles with an inconsistency of tone. It’s one thing to blend horror with rom-com, but it’s another to have Rosie watch a horrific video of a possessed child and then immediately have a flirty moment with Sam, “leaving [her] hot and breathy and lonesome.” Overall, though, Rosie is an unpretentious protagonist who is fun to root for as she suffers no fools.
If Moore can find her footing then the future adventures of the Great Essex Witch Museum should make for prime guilty-pleasure reading.