Witch in the House, by Jenna McKnight

7 May
Reader beware: I got this book at a blogger giveaway (at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, where it was originally published)

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Witch in the House, by Jenna McKnight

This is the first book by Ms McKnight that I’ve read, and I was rather pleasantly surprised by the humor in it. Still, I don’t think I’m quite the audience for romantic comedies (I’m a bit of a curmudgeon—really, I am—and romantic comedies often leave me cold). And yet, this novel made me smile repeatedly.

Witch in the House is the first in the Witches of West Bluff series, with two more books planned so far (I couldn’t find either release dates nor titles for them, though).

Here’s the back cover blurb:

It was a match made by magic…

Jade Delarue casts a love spell that brings a gorgeous man to her door, but private detective Mason Kincaid isn’t looking for love. He’s here at Mystic Manor on official business, and not even the blizzard raging outside her house—or her spellbinding beauty—can distract him.

Then Jade realizes the mistake she’s made in her spell, and now she wants Mason gone. Mason, however, is just beginning to realize that Jade may be the woman he’s been waiting for. But convincing her means coming up with a little magic of his own…

I hate blurbs—there are never accurate. Since the book begins with Mason being jilted, in church, in front of a full Bridezilla production, I couldn’t quite understand how we are supposed to believe he was waiting for Jade (or any other woman).  Ah well, by now most readers should know not to trust the blurbs. Poor authors, though.

The set up, without too many spoilers, is this: Jade and her two best friends, Annie and Courtney, are in legal limbo because their three husbands got in a car six years prior to the beginning of the novel, right after an ice storm, and vanished into thin air. Mason and Anthony (his partner and best friend) are PIs, hired to find evidence of foul play by the insurance company which will have to pay three rather stiff policies upon the issuance of death certificates for the three missing men. And if that were not enough for hijinks to ensue, it so happens that Jade cast a spell on behalf of a man in love with Mason’s fiancé which results in his being jilted.

During the first chapter or so of the novel, I felt that Mason was simply comfortable in the relationship, and couldn’t be bothered to figure out whether or not it worked—either for himself or her—so he just gave in to whatever his no-show-bride asked of him. Not the best light in which to introduce your hero, methinks. Yet I like Mason, very much, because he redeems himself in a hurry.

First of all, he doesn’t take himself so seriously he cannot see the humor in the entire fiasco. Some of his reflections about his behaviour, his reactions to Brenda (the ex-fiancé), to Lyle (who got Brenda pregnant), to Jade, to witchcraft and to life in very conservative West Bluff, are funny as hell and sharp at the same time. Over the top at times, but still very funny.

It was interesting to see the contrast between the normalcy of Mason and Anthony, and the over the top weirdness-as-normalcy of Jade and Annie. There are pentagrams, runes, charms, spells, herbs, and candles—with different specific purposes and goals—sprinkled all over the pages, and most of the characters take magic and witchcraft very seriously. Those who have been helped by Jade’s spells and potions, as well as those who are horrified by the very idea of witchcraft in their midst.

My problem with the novel, and this is completely a personal taste issue, was that I couldn’t relate to the characters. It’s not the writing, which is both competent and funny. It’s not even the characterization, which is good, honestly. I guess I need more angst and more intensity, even with humor (black or otherwise), because in the end I wasn’t even curious to see what happens with Annie, Courtney, the missing men, or anything else.

7 out of 10

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