Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Witch Is Dead-Shirley Damsgaard

The Witch Is Dead
Shirley Damsgaard
Avon, Sept 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061147234

Tink, a fourteen year old medium, starts to have visions of the dead walking towards her in a wooded area. Psychic and practicing witch Ophelia Jensen, who hopes to adopt her, tries to help Tink understand her powers. Ophelia’s worries ratchet into high gear when they go to meet Great Aunt Dot at the airport only to see Mr. Buchanan assisting the nonagenarian witch who sees fairies. Tink gets an “icky” feeling and soon after Mr. Buchanan is murdered in his funeral home office.

Tink feels guilty because she failed to warn Mr. Buchanan. Hoping to get the teen’s mind off of her woes, Ophelia takes Tink camping, which ends up disastrously. Her puppy finds a skull and when Tink sees it she screams that she is being punished for not alerting Mr. Buchanan. Campers hear her lament and the townsfolk believe she knows something about the homicide. When Tink is kidnapped, Ophelia assumes the killer has her; Aunt Dot says Tink is alive because the fairies protect her. Ophelia investigates with the help of a sexy DEA agent; as they follow the clues, they solve a couple of crimes not involving Tink.

The characters in THE WITCH IS DEAD are endearing because they are fascinatingly eccentric. Aunt Dot steals the show with her obsessive compulsive need to solve a murder, which the nintyish witch sees as a grand adventure while her Dr. Watsons are mythological creatures invisible to everyone else. The plot moves forward at a rapid pace yet is colorfully descriptive so the reader can vividly picture the goings on. This amateur sleuth fantasy is one of the sub-genre’s best sagas.

Harriet Klausner