Book Review: Seven-Year Witch by Angela M. Sanders

Seven-Year Witch by Angela M. Sanders is the second Witch Way Librarian Mystery, where Josie Way is settling in as Wilfred, Oregon’s, new librarian and has just discovered she’s a witch—but will her fledgling powers be enough to save her from a spell of murder?

Josie Way is settling into life as librarian to the small town of Wilfred, Oregon, after the life-altering events that accompanied her initial move west from Washington, D.C. It wasn’t just adjusting to rural life after living so long in the nation’s capital that made for such a radical change for her. She was also coming into her magical abilities as a bibliomancer, abilities that came in handy when an assassin arrived in town putting her life in jeopardy.

Nowadays, Josie is perfectly happy to use her skills primarily to recommend the right book for library patrons. There’s not a lot of excitement in Wilfred, but she rather likes it that way—at least until the return of Sam Wilfred, the descendent of the town’s founders, whom she met and developed feelings for during the entire assassin fiasco. Alas for Josie, he comes back with a wife and baby in tow.

Josie tries her best to keep things purely platonic, choosing to focus on helping the people associated with the redevelopment of Wilfred’s burned-down mill into an eco-conscious retreat instead. While the town had originally been delighted that Ruff and Sita Waters stepped in to rehabilitate the property and hopefully attract tourist dollars to their out-of-the-way community, everyone is unsettled by the bickering that’s broken out amidst the development team. Rumors soon spread about the mill property being cursed, and Josie begins to wonder whether she ought to be involved in getting to the truth and potentially laying to rest any vengeful spirits interfering with progress. It is, after all, in her nature.

Sam was right that I had a strong sense of justice: I was a truth teller. Witches in my family had different qualities through which they funneled their magic. My mother had visions, and my sisters and grandmother were healers. My grandmother had a special way with plants. Like books talked to me, plants talked to Grandma.

Even as Josie is researching curses and local history with the help of her library and a legacy of letters from said Grandma, Sam’s glamorous artist wife, Fiona, vanishes after visiting the mill site one afternoon. While Fiona and Sam are in the middle of a less-than-amicable divorce, Sam is convinced that she would never leave their son behind. Things start looking really bad for Sam, however, when circumstantial evidence points to him being responsible for the disappearance of his wife. Josie doesn’t believe any of it, of course, but Josie isn’t the new interim sheriff, Meg Beattie. A no-nonsense woman who’d originally thought of hiring Sam to her department, Meg goes where the evidence leads her, and right now that means straight to Sam.

Josie is determined to both prove her friend’s innocence and get to the bottom of what’s going on with the mill. Her own investigations have led her to believe that not only does a curse linger over Wilfred but that something even stronger could be at work with the abandoned mill, once a site of so much grief. She’ll do whatever it takes to get to the truth, no matter how it imperils her.

Motion on the ground six feet or so to my right caught my eye. Green on green—a snake with diamonds running down its back. A rattler.

 

Blood iced in my veins. I stepped back, and the snake lifted its head and curled its body rapidly into a coil, its tail rising and rattling at a pace to match the earth’s tremor. Images whipped through my brain of lightning storms, screaming wind, and suffocating fire.

 

Staring into the snake’s eyes, I was frozen. Its tongue licked out, and its head drew back. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t even close my eyes against the strike I knew was coming.

This novel of suspense was a really lovely follow-up to the Witchy Way Librarian Mystery series debut, as Angela M. Sanders expands on the worldbuilding of Bait and Witch to not only explore the supernatural side of Wilfred but also its more mortal-if-still-quite-eccentric aspects. Josie’s continuing magical education is balanced out by all-too-realistic situations that are, by turns, humorous and danger-filled as she strives to fulfill her duties as truth-teller, librarian, and friend. This installment of the series definitely leans a little more on the paranormal than on the cozy side—which I absolutely loved!—but is still a solid treat for lovers of exciting traditional mysteries.

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