I won a Kindle copy of Debora Geary’s “A Modern Witch” on Library Thing about two weeks ago, received it last week and started reading it right away. The story revolves around Lauren, a 28-year old Realtor from Chicago with an uncanny ability to fit her clients into their ideal home. One night, while stuffing her virtual shopping cart full of ice-cream (one can’t live on an ancient can of clam chowder, after all), she is yanked into a virtual chat for witches. The chat program was magically designed to fetch witches from around the net and hurtle them into the chat room to meet with other witches. While I did have ethical issues with this plot aspect, I quickly reminded myself that it’s fiction, so stop getting so hung up on one little detail. After all, I enjoyed Alice In Wonderland immensely despite the fact that, in the real world, caterpillars do not smoke hookah pipes, so surely I could get past the fact that these witches basically hijacked Lauren’s computer, especially since their intentions were quite pure.
What those good-intentioned witches didn’t count on was yanking in a woman who had no idea she was a witch. As Moira, the maternal aunt figure of the story, is fond of saying, an untrained witch is a dangerous witch. The rest of the story follows Lauren’s journey as she discovers her own unique powers, bonds with her new surrogate family, and watches her best friend fall in love. The story is sweet, the writing is solid, and the characters are very likable. They’re all so kindhearted, generous and welcoming to Lauren, who manages to embrace her new life with a sense of acceptance that I would never be able to muster if someone came along, told me I had magical powers (that part would be awesome), then basically told me I had to put everything on hold to learn how to control them.
This is a great story for someone looking for some light beach side fantasy reading. Personally, I prefer books with just a little more conflict, complete with a villain that gets my blood pressure up every time he or she enters a scene. This is something I only just discovered. I used to think “I’d love to read a book without a bad guy just once, a nice book where everyone is relatively happy the whole time and nothing bad happens. A book that keeps my pulse rate at an even number. A Modern Witch was completely devoid of a villain, and I just realized that I really missed the conflict and the climatic moment when good triumphs over evil. This is in no way a negative reflection on the author, she gave me exactly what I thought I wanted. It just turns out that I am a fickle person.
For those who are looking for a sweet, villainless story, Geary certainly delivers in style. I really enjoyed the chatroom-style scenes, where pure dialogue showed the strength of the familial bond between Nell, Moira, Sophie and Jamie. I also loved the way Geary’s characters talk about their magic, and the advice they give each other. I think the techniques Lauren learns to shield herself and develop her powers would actually be great for all of us non-magical people to try once in a while- it definitely gave me some ideas for putting myself in a more relaxed state before bedtime! If Geary wrote a book on meditation, I would definitely snatch it up, especially since I’ve yet to find a technique that actually works for me.
A Modern Witch retails for $3.99 on Amazon and Smashwords.