Accidental Witch by Jessica Penot
Age Group: Adult
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Phaedra Michaels is a small town psychologist who is beginning to lose hope. Two of her patients at the local hospital in Dismal, Alabama have just killed themselves, she’s still reeling from her divorce and what turned out to be a disastrous marriage, and her father has died, leaving her without any notion of who her real mother is.
Just as Phaedra decides to commit herself to a serious drinking problem and an eating disorder, or two, a mysterious spell book arrives in the mail. Feeling desperate, Phaedra uses it to cast spells to save her fading patients. Suddenly, good things start happening. Phaedra’s patients begin to get better and she even starts dating the sexy doctor from the hospital.
Phaedra is so happy she doesn't notice the small things that start to go wrong in Dismal, or the dark creatures slithering out of the shadows near her house. When Phaedra finally realizes her spells have attracted every card-carrying demon from hell, she has no choice but to accept help from a slightly nerdy, 500 year-old warlock with a penchant for wearing super hero T-shirts and a knack for getting under Phaedra’s skin. Now, if only she could get the hang of this witch thing, she might be able to save her town.
I was excited to read "Accidental Witch" by Jessica Penot because I always like a good witch story. The main character in this story's name is Phaedra, and she's a divorcée living in her small hometown, Dismal,
Phaedra came off as a very likable narrator to me. Her main mission in life was to help people, and that impulse only increased after she stumbled into witchcraft. But she's not some prissy Miss Do-Gooder. She lives off animal crackers and Coke, drinks heavy amounts of alcohol, and deals heavily in sarcasm. However, all that her faults did was make her more of a well-rounded character, and I greatly enjoyed her snark.
This story also has a lot of personal growth for Phaedra. She goes from a depressed woman, who had just split from her husband and lost her job in
(making her move back to small town Alabama),
to a super powerful witch, who's confident in herself inside and out. Through
the events in this book, Phaedra is finally at a place where she can take
charge of her own life and move on from her past failures and heartbreak. Yes,
she still has things to figure out toward the end of the book, but does anyone
ever have themselves completely figured out at any point of their lives?
As for the story itself, there were only a few things I ended up side-eyeing. Phaedra becomes an "Accidental Witch" after a spell book is randomly delivered to her door. There is no note or return address, but she seems okay with that like it's every day that magical items fall into her lap from nowhere. Instead of questioning where it came from, she just takes it in stride and goes as far as actually doing a spell from the book. I just would have thought there would be more hesitation from her, especially since magic has not existed in Phaedra's world until now.
Once she realizes her initial spell works, Phaedra just keeps casting and casting. This part of the book moved a little slow for me. As I said, I've read witch stories before and I know enough to know that magic always has consequences. However, it was awhile before we saw any of the negative outcomes from any of Phaedra's spells, and I would have just liked the action to start a little sooner in the story.
But once the action and negative side effects of spell casting came into play, then it was on. The book took a complete turn when a new character, Fred, was introduced. He was there to tell Phaedra that through her ignorance of the magical world, she made a big mistake, and they needed to fix it. With Fred's arrival, the story completely took off for me. I didn't want to go to work because I just wanted to keep reading to see how they were going to get out of the hole that had been dug.
Even with the slow start, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about witchcraft. The ending definitely pays off, and Phaedra is a pretty fun character to get to know.
I am a therapist and writer who lives in Alabama with my three corgis, children, husband, and other strange creatures. My short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies including CSM, Summer Gothic, Bound By Blood, and Outer Darkness. I have ghost story columns in theValley Planet and White Cat Magazine where I share my love for ghost stories that send shivers down your spine and keep you up at night.
I also share my passion for all things ghostly and haunted at my blog, ghost stories and haunted places. I am also the editor of Insatiable Magazine: The Magazine for Paranormal Desires. I am currently working on my next Haunted America Book for History Press, Haunted South Alabama.
Follow me at my blog to learn about the ghost stories I am chasing and collecting for this fascinating addition to Haunted America. I'm also workng on the next book in my Circe series. The demon is awake and waiting for my new heroine in the swamps of Southern Alabama.