Spells at the Crossroads By Barbara Ashford

Nov 22, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Fantasy & Fangs, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrance V. Mc Arthur

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Spells at the Crossroads, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL.

The theatre can be a magical place, where amazing things happen, taking the audience to another time and place. Barbara Ashford recognized this, and created a pair of not-quite-urban fantasies, Spellcast and Spellcrossed. These have been republished in a single volume, Spells at the Crossroads. Maggie Graham, frustrated with her life, finds herself off in small-town Vermont, auditioning for a summer stock company. There’s something odd about the place…and the people…and the director, and that’s where the magic comes in, a magic that seems to find the missing pieces of a person’s character, casting them in parts that help them become the person they should be.Spells at the Crossroads

These stories are not what you would expect from a paranormal mystery or an urban-fantasy action tale. There are no vampires/werewolves/zombies, no violent battles, no gore, and no zeppelin airships. Instead, there’s musical theatre.

Each chapter is titled after a show tune. Over two seasons, the company at The Crossroads tackles productions of Brigadoon, Carousel, Annie, The Secret Garden, Into the Woods, and an original musical about Celtic legends, plus allusions to a staging of The Fantasticks that happens between the two books, when Maggie becomes the new director of the theatre. There’s a lot of insight into the music, themes, and conflicts in the scripts, and the challenges of acting and directing. There is tension, attraction, and emotion between Maggie and Rowan, the director. Is it fate, karma, blood, or a curse that brought her to the Green Mountain State – or was it All of the Above?

The town and the theatre staff have some odd couples, from same-sex partners to a Chinese/Swiss pair running a restaurant called the Mandarin Chalet. There is a strong strain of off-kilter humor running through the books, and they just don’t fit the typical fantasy novel mold. At times, it seems like a Harlequin romance written by elves.
If you like gentle fantasy, cozy mysteries, and screwball romance, and a backstage look at show business, these stories will fly you into your happy space, but it will be a different trip than you have ever had before.

Break a leg!

To enter to win a copy of Spells at the Crossraods, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Crossroads,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 29, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Check out more fantasy book reviews in our fantasy and fangs section.

Use this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


  1. As a performing artist who is also a life long lover of all things SF & F, SPELLS AT THE CROSSROADS sounds wonderful, an ideal book for me! Would love to please win a copy.

    Thanks so much!
    Amy in NYC

  2. I don’t see many mysteries set in the Green Mountain State, so this will be a treat. Theatre, music, and mystery – sounds like a great combination.

  3. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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