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A Magical Match By Juliet Blackwell: Review/Giveaway/Behind the Book Interview

IN THE May 26 ISSUE

FROM THE 2018 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFantasy & Fangs,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a review of Juliet Blackwell’s latest witchcraft mystery A Magical Match, along with a fun short behind the book interview with Juliet. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of A Magical Match, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

A Magical Match: A Witchcraft Mystery by Juliet Blackwell
Review by Cynthia Chow

Lily Ivory knew she was going to have her hands full when she agreed to have her vintage clothing shop sponsor a coven’s fund-raising Magical Match Tea. Haight-Ashbury’s Welcome coven prided itself on being inclusive and well, welcoming, so what initially began as a matching-outfits mother-daughter event soon evolved into an all-gender, mother-figure brunch. They’ve barely mapped out the invite list when Tristan Dupree, a man Lily hasn’t seen since she was a teenager, barges into her Aunt Cora’s Closet shop demanding that Lily return the item she stole. Since their only previous meeting coincided with the last time Lily encountered her father – an event shrouded in magic and left her with only remnants of memories – Lily can’t swear either way if she did indeed take Tristan’s belongings. Lily’s stalwart fiancé Sailor gallantly protects her from Tristan’s accusations, but their public confrontation leads police back to Sailor when Tristan is soon found dead. It certainly doesn’t help that witnesses spotted a very casual, and obviously bloody, Sailor leaving Tristan’s hotel just before the murder.

mystery book coverSailor may be hiding some secrets, but Lily knows that he could never kill another in cold blood. There’s definitely some magical interference going on, as multiple sightings place Sailor in places he claimed to never have been. Keeping Lily distracted is a caravan of witches on their way to attend Lily’s hand-fasting with her betrothed, as they seem to be taking a long, rather meandering, route towards San Francisco. Lily is more than a little anxious about their arrival, as they include not just her adored grandmother, but Lily’s estranged mother. Lily’s mother was the reason the young budding witch was forced to traumatically flee home, and Lily is uncertain how forgiving she can be in their reunion.

As dire as the events may seem, this amazing ninth in the series continues to maintain its highly entertaining, warm-hearted approach to witchcraft and its practitioners. Even more impressive is how the author has built a long thread of mystery throughout the novels, one tied together by a prophecy that has Lily as its focus. Her mentor, the mysteriously enthralling Adian Rhodes, warns that having a love partner will only make her more vulnerable, but Lily is finding that building closer allies may actually strengthen her. Taking on a rebellious young witch as her own apprentice brings in an added viewpoint, not to mention further insight into to the wounded young woman Lily was once herself. No small amount of humor stems from Lily’s changeling familiar, a hobgoblin-pot-bellied-pig who continues to search for his mother while accidentally partaking in a little non-medicinal herbals.

This is one of the most charming paranormal cozy mysteries being written today, successfully mixing magical lore with sympathetic and relatable characters. I can’t wait for the next adventures of these beloved witches of Haight-Ashbury.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Behind the Book interview with Juliet Blackwell:

KRL: I love how your series blends together mystery elements with a strong fantasy mythology. Did ever plan on writing a strict fantasy novel? Which parts are the most fun to write, the paranormal or the mystery?

Juliet: Oh, what a good question! I came to paranormal storylines by way of mystery – my first series was a more traditional cozy, dealing with art forgery (no ghosts or magic at all!), but I studied anthropology for many years, so I have a background in folklore and adore studying different sorts of belief systems, so when my editor asked me whether I’d ever considered writing a paranormal mystery I immediately replied: “Yes! How about a witch?” At the time there were plenty of vampire and zombie novels, but the good old-fashioned witch was harder to find. I really enjoy researching and writing about botanicals, and spells, and folklore from all over the world.

mystery author

Juliet Blackwell

KRL: Where did you ever come up with the idea of a shape-changing pig/hobgoblin familiar?

Juliet: I wanted Lily – my main character, a witch who feels very alone – to have a familiar she could talk to, share experiences with, and rely on for rarified knowledge about the magical world. The traditional familiar is a black cat, of course, and I love black cats! But as I was researching, I found that in the old days, many witches had all sorts of familiars, such as dogs, wolves, frogs and pigs. Pigs were especially useful for witches who did botanical and root work, since they “root” around in the earth and uncover things. Familiars were sometimes accused of shapeshifting, so I imagined a pig becoming a critter who could talk, and somehow Oscar took on a life of his own…almost magically, really, now that I think of it.

KRL: The relationship between Sailor and Lily is as complicated as it is romantic. Did you always plan on taking this path towards their relationship? Was he always The One?

Juliet: No. For better or worse, I’m not the kind of author who maps everything out ahead of time. Sailor presented on the page, and the sparks just flew – much as can happen in real life, actually. Lily and Sailor sort of figured out their own relationship and continue to do so. I’m really never sure what those two will be getting up to next.

KRL: How did you develop such an appreciation for fashion?

Juliet: I’ve always loved old things, whether antiques or houses or ruins. I like the sense of history, and the evidence of craftsmanship that we might not see much anymore. I’m no expert in vintage clothing, but I love researching how fashion progresses in relation to ever-changing social mores, as well as technical advances in the textile and sewing industries.

KRL: What inspired you to write about witchcraft? Did you have a favorite witch novel, television show, or movie?

Juliet: Well, I grew up on reruns of Bewitched, and graduated to Charmed, and one of my favorite movies is Practical Magic. But in actuality, most of my love of witchcraft came from my anthropological studies; throughout history and in most cultures around the world, “healer” was synonymous with “witch” (hence, “witch doctor”). I love that traditional views of health don’t separate mental from physical and spiritual health, but instead see humans as a whole. And even though there are plenty of male practitioners, the very concept of “witch”, whether it inspires fear or respect, or both, is (and always has been) a powerful label for women, especially.

KRL: What inspired the idea for your newest book?

Juliet: A Magical Match was inspired by a very old photograph of my mother with my two older sisters, in which they were all in matching dresses (which my mother had sewn – I wasn’t around yet, so didn’t get in on the gig). My sister suggested that it would be fun to have a “matching” party at Lily’s vintage clothing store, Aunt Cora’s Closet, and I’ve always been fascinated by doppelgängers. It went on from there!

To enter to win a copy of A Magical Match, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “match,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 2, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also watch for our new mystery podcast coming up very soon!

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie PriceNo Gravatar May 26, 2018 at 7:38am

This is a great series! The cover of this one cracks me up! Thank you for the giveaway.

Reply

2 Debbie PriceNo Gravatar May 26, 2018 at 7:39am

I forgot to include my email!
debprice60@gmail.com

Reply

3 Paula AdamsNo Gravatar
Twitter: @qnofdnile
May 27, 2018 at 9:46am

Cute cover. Thank you for this chance. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

Reply

4 Patricia SmithNo Gravatar
Twitter: @Pgtsmith
May 27, 2018 at 7:33pm

Love all your books can’t wait to read this one

Reply

5 Penny HarperNo Gravatar
Twitter: @Scoobyspenny10
May 27, 2018 at 7:33pm

The cover is so freaking cute. I haven’t read your books yet. I’m always looking for new authors and great book covers to try.

Reply

6 Margaret RushtonNo Gravatar
Twitter: @cupcake5858
May 29, 2018 at 4:54pm

Great interview. I love witchcraft mysteries. Can’t wait to read this one.
scarletbegonia5858(at)gmail(dot)com

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7 DonamaeNo Gravatar
Twitter: @donamaekutska
May 29, 2018 at 6:19pm

The book sounds so interesting, I can’t wait to read it. The cover is really neat with the matching skirts. I liked bewitched too. Oscar is perfect as the familiar. Donamaekutska7@gmail.com

Reply

8 Dianne CaseyNo Gravatar May 31, 2018 at 5:50pm

Another great series! Looking forward to reading “A Magical Match”.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot(com)

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9 LorieNo Gravatar
Twitter: @mysteryrat
June 11, 2018 at 10:41am

We have a winner!

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