… great fun, witchy mystery …
A chase across England after the bones of Ursula Cadence, a C16th witch, before the ghost of her son does something extreme.
Syd’s deft writing establishes the protagonist, Rosie Strange, as the new owner of the run down Essex Witch Museum whilst smoothly setting up the working (and love/hate) relationship between her and the museum curator, Sam Stone.
The relaxed breezy style and numerous Essex jokes belie the amount of research that obviously went into the novel’s background. These details add depth and thoughtfulness to an otherwise lightweight read. This isn’t a criticism but more of a comment on an interesting juxtaposition between the constant froth of Essex humour against the dark witchcraft subject matter. This contrast is further highlighted by the fact that in her acknowledgements Syd explains she has tried to get funding for a witchcraft museum – and still hopes one day to achieve this dream; and yet the novel’s by-line on the cover is “The only way is witchcraft” – a reference to the popular British reality soap, “The Only way is Essex” which full of love triangles, fake tans and hair extensions. There’s a lovely 5 minute Youtube clip of Syd Moore explaining the 1980s prejudice, comparison between witches and Essex girls, and her revisioning of them both here.
A thoroughly enjoyable holiday mystery and I am looking forward to the next in the Essex Witch Museum series.
Syd Moore lives in Essex. She has been a lecturer and a TV presenter before becoming a writer.
This is my fourteenth review in the British Books Challenge 2017. Come and join us at over at Chelley Toy’s site.
Cover design moment: Superb design by James Jones: clear, vibrant, stand out from shelf kind of work. Lovely to see that this Art Director of One World name checked on the back and mentioned by Syd Moore in her acknowledgements for the “gobsmacking Oh-my-god-I-love it so-much jacket design”. Bravo! A selection of his brilliant designs can be found on his Tumblr feed here.
Strange Magic by Syd Moore was published by Point Blank, an imprint of One World, on 4th May 2017. A sequel, Strange Sight, is due to be published in October 2017.