by Lorie Lewis Ham
& Debbie Viguié
This week we have a review of mystery/fantasy novel The Last Grave by Debbie Viguié, a special guest post from Debbie about the mix of Christianity and magic in her series, and a chance to win a copy of the book-details at the end of this post.
The Last Grave: A Witch Hunt Novel by Debbie Viguié
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
Homicide detective Samantha Ryan has just started a new life in San Francisco. Her hope is to forget the horrors of her past. As a child, she was part of a coven that was destroyed because of their lust for power. She also wants to leave magic behind completely, but she soon realizes that isn’t so easy.
Her latest case, the murder of a local historian named Winona Lightfoot, at first seems like a much needed distraction, but the fact that her body is petrified leaves Samantha with an eerie feeling that something not quite normal is going on here. Her investigation takes her to Santa Cruz where she finds that Winona’s daughter is magical as well, and that a coven may be involved in Winona’s death. Earthquakes also start to rock the Bay area–not that unusual at first glance, but Samantha has a premonition that there’s more too them than meets the eye, and that something very evil is coming! There also seem to be some strange time shifts, or else she is losing her mind. Samantha is forced to call upon her magic to find the truth and save the day.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Samantha is also dealing with a forbidden love, fear that magic will harm those around her, fear that if her new friends and partner find out what she is they won’t like her, and fear of letting the magic take control.
While there seem to be a lot of magic related mysteries these days, this one has a new twist that I found very interesting–Samantha is also a Christian and this makes her struggles with being a witch even more complicated. And Samantha isn’t just a witch, she’s a witch hunter–also an interesting twist.
I loved this book! If like me, you enjoy the combination of mystery and the supernatural, this is the book for you. There’s plenty of mystery and magic, Samantha is a complex and interesting character, I enjoyed the San Francisco and Santa Cruz settings, and it was filled with the twists and turns that make for a great mystery!
This is the second book in the series and I plan to go back and read the first and I can’t wait for the next one due out in 2014, as we were left with a bit of a cliffhanger!
Samantha and The Last Grave
By Debbie Viguié
I love writing stories that people can really sink their teeth into. With the Witch Hunt series I’ve spent a lot of time making Samantha as believable a character as possible in a world full of unbelievable evil. In the first book of the series Samantha is a former witch who has been forced to return to those roots as an undercover cop trying to stop a coven of witches from doing unspeakable evil. In the second book she has left her home behind for the chance at a fresh start, hoping to put the magic behind her again. Only, it’s not as easy as she would like. What makes it harder is that Samantha is a Christian and her constant battle with her temptation to use magic is running afoul of her faith.
It was important for me to make Samantha a Christian for a couple of reasons. First, I’m often disappointed at the lack of realistic Christian characters in fiction, people with depth and struggles of their own who still have true, genuine faith. It made sense to me that Samantha, someone with such a horrific childhood who is so desperately running from the dark, would try to find something new to cling to and believe in when she was young and escaped the coven she was raised in. It was important to me to set the first book in Salem, home of the infamous Witch Trials, and making Samantha reach for Christianity was an obvious choice, especially given the history of that area and the antagonism between witchcraft and Christianity. It was the most intense way she could reject her roots and her old self.
That rejection, though, has come at a price and there are huge gaps in Samantha’s memories of her childhood. These gaps have actually caused her a number of problems and in this second book of the trilogy she’s forced to recover more and more of the memories she’d rather leave locked away.
The other reason it was important to me to make Samantha a Christian was because I believe that too often people who come to Christianity shun parts of their own past or personality that they shouldn’t. I have known several people who have various gifts or talents that they used in a way that they perceived to be negative in the past. After becoming Christians, they refused to use those gifts or talents even for good, thinking that they were forever tainted. This is a great tragedy, in my opinion. The talents people have been given are a blessing and just because you once used it for something negative doesn’t mean you should rob the world of the good you can do with that skill.
This is exactly what Samantha is going through. In the world of Witch Hunt, the ability to use magic is genetic, a talent one could say. The magic and the ability to use it is not a bad thing. Some characters even use it for good. However, because of her own horrific past, Samantha is unable to view magic as anything but evil. Thus she has been denying part of who she is and refusing to use all the skills and gifts God created her with. The character will never be able to find true peace and access her full power until she can forgive herself for her past and come to terms with the fact that the magic isn’t good or bad, it’s how you use it that means something. The day that Samantha can learn to fully embrace her ability to do magic and realize that it doesn’t mean she has to forsake her Christian faith will be the day that she finds true healing and becomes unstoppable. If she can’t come to that realization, however, then she is doomed to failure and death.
To enter to win a copy of The Last Grave, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Grave”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 4, 2013. U.S. residents only.