Title: A Spell To Die For (Sonoma Witches Book Three)

Publisher: Eton Field

Author: Gretchen Galway

Pages: 332pp

Price: $14.99 (paperback) / $3.99 (ebook)

Alma Bellrose is a hereditary witch. A member of one of the oldest and most prestigious (and infamous) families in the Witch community, she is also an exile and a disgrace. Kicked out of the Protectorate for her inability to kill on command, she now lives quietly in tiny Silverpool, California — or, she tries to live quietly. Against her will, she keeps getting pulled into Protectorate business. And then a demon shows up in town. And her father announces that he is getting married. And an old “friend” makes an unwelcome appearance. And when there is a murder in the middle of the wedding, Alma finds an unexpected connection to the demon haunting Silverpool ….

Galway’s Sonoma Witches series is one that I look forward to reading with every new book.* Alma is a fantastic character: she is a moral compass in a sometimes amoral, or even immoral, world. It may cost her dearly, and she may take a while to figure out what it is, but she will always do the right thing.

In the hands of another writer, that could make Alma insufferable and uptight, but Galway keeps her wonderfully grounded and humble. Alma is all too aware of her own flaws and frailties, and of the preciousness of life, whether human, fae, witch, or something else completely different.

I really like Alma’s supporting cast, too: her best friend and budding witch, Birdie; Darius, her former partner at the Protectorate; Jen, who runs the local hardware store; Willy, the old-fashioned gnome who lives in a tree behind Alma’s house; and Raynor, the director of the local Protectorate office, who may just be an ally and friend to Alma when she needs one the most.

The mystery that Alma is saddled with solving is engaging, and the solution is clever; but what really drives the story is how that death threatens the whole of Silverpool and all of its quirky, unusual residents. Alma’s despair at the possibility that Silverpool will be destroyed by the Protectorate (in a misguided attempt to defend the world as a whole) is palpable, and one shared by the reader. Silverpool is a wonderful little town. I would love to live there myself. Maybe I could run the bookstore with Birdie.

Highly recommended to urban fantasy and paranormal mystery fans, as well as fans of Girl on the Ghost Train by Jools Sinclair, Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus by Lydia Sherrer, the Driftwood Mystery series by A.L. Tyler, and A Witchcraft Mystery series by Juliet Blackwell.

*As of this writing, Sonoma Witches features three books: Dead Witch on a BridgeHex at a House Party, and A Spell to Die For. The books have to be read in order.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published works can be found there.]