May 23 2013 2:00pm

First Look: Molly Harper’s A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses (May 28, 2013)

A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly HarperMolly Harper
A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses
Pocket / May 28, 2013 / $7.99 print, $7.59 digital

Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.

Complication One: The artifacts are lost somewhere in vampire Jane Jameson’s occult bookshop. Complication Two: Her new neighbor Jed Trudeau keeps turning up half-naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn’t need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially since Jed’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard. Can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?

A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses is Molly Harper’s latest trip to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky—home to vampires, werewolves and now witches, oh my! Well, maybe just one witch; Nola Leary has come all the way from the very small village of Kilcairy, Ireland, to find Gilbert Wainwright, former lover of her grandmother, although she really doesn’t want to think about that too much. The secret Nana Fee has been keeping all these years is that Gilbert Wainwright is Nola’s grandfather. While Mr. Wainwright might have left Ireland without knowing his passionate encounters with Fiona led to more than just happy memories, Fiona did entrusted him with the McGavock witches’ mystical treasures for safekeeping.

“Nana got rather worried about an increase in Kerrigan-related violence. She saw the he was trustworthy, that he was devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. So she took the objects out of the family vault and entrusted them to his care. She thought they would be safer with him.”

Both women winced, the corners of their mouths drawing back sharply. Jane said, “She probably should have rethought that. I don’t want to alarm you, but when I first got here, the shop looked like an episode of Extreme Horders: Book Edition.”

Centuries ago, these mystical treasure were used to bind the family’s rivals, the Kerrigans, from being able to use their magic for harm. The problem is the binding needs to be renewed every 100 years, and as the head of the family, since her grandmother’s death, it's up to Nola to travel to the United States to find out what happened to the treasures entrusted in the hands of the now deceased Gilbert Wainwright. She only has until the summer solstice to find the objects and rebind the Kerrigans or they will be free to mete out magical revenge upon the McGavocks. Yeah, no pressure.

“These objects, which they called the Elements, were scattered to the winds, given to strangers, sold to tinkers, that sort of thing. The matriarchs agreed that the family that found all four objects first would be able to bind the other branch.”

“Like magical Pokémon?” Andrea asked.

“If I wasn’t under an enormous amount of stress, I would find that funny,” I assured her.

Now Nola is searching frantically inside of Mr. Wainwright’s former bookstore, Specialty Books, hoping and praying that Mr. Wainwright hasn’t sold off her family’s magical treasures when she meets the new proprietor and real life vampire, Jane Jameson-Nightingale. With the help of her new vampire friends, all Nola has to do is go through decades worth of Mr. Wainwright’s unorganized stock of oddities and knickknacks, and try and find four rather unremarkable objects representing the four elements and with time running out, even their vampire speed might not be enough to get the job done.

“Until I was hired, the storeroom was like that village in Brigadoon. Wainwright would find something—a book or artifact—and shove it in here, and then a bookshelf would fall against the door, and he would lose track of it for a decade or so. I’m sorry. I wish I could remember more details of what I sorted through, but to be honest, the weeks after your grandfather’s death were a blur. I could have chucked Excalibur into the recycling bin, and I wouldn’t have noticed.”

Oh, yeah, no pressure at all.

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly Harper before its May 28 release:

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Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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