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Housewitch    by Katie Schickel order for
by Katie Schickel
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Katie Schickel's Housewitch is a mix of light fantasy and Gossip Girls for grown-ups, with a strong vein of hilarity. It opens on a witchy family with definite dysfunctional elements in 1945 Misery Shoal, Massachusetts (and each chapter heading has a nursery rhyme, many of which we learn later might actually be spells!)

Papa is inexplicably missing. Mama is a good witch as are eldest and youngest sisters Wilhemena and Aurora, but it's clear from the beginning that Freya has turned to the dark side. Her antics result in disaster and a sudden uprooting for the family after a mob comes after them.

Fast forward to 2015 and Monrovia, Massachusetts, an upscale seaside village ruled (seemingly benignly) by the Glamour Girls who sell their products to all and sundry. Allison Darling, a happily married mother of three, lives there. Though she would love to be accepted by the elite, her best friend is short, overweight, crass Judy who 'doesn't do manicures, macrobiotic colon cleanses, Pilates, or recipe swaps.'

Allison's need for acceptance comes from a dislocated upbringing in a series of foster families after her mother abandoned her at age seven. Allison has long suppressed her witchy talents since they got her into constant trouble with foster parents. But suddenly they start emerging again - and the Glamour Girls notice.

Allison is informed that her mother (Wilhemena) is dying. She rushes to her side and is told that her mother had enchanted her to keep her safe from the Dark Witch and that she must 'return to the Old Ways.' She looks for help from her aunt Aurora but doesn't get much. Then the Glamour Girls offer an invitation she doesn't want to refuse, and reel her in.

What follows is a romp of a magical adventure as Allison tries to work out the identity of the Dark Witch, recover her friendship with Judy (who's hurt by her stint as a Glamour Girl) and protect her family from all the harm heading their way. It's great fun, both as fantasy lite and a satire of suburban housewifery. Don't miss Housewitch!

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