The story picks up a few months after the first book. Ophelia Jensen has accepted her talents and begun training with her grandmother to learn the right way to use her gifts. It's in this second story that Ophelia received a set of runes, passed down from her great grandmother, that will become a major tool for her magick throughout the rest of the series. She's still hesitant, and occasionally impatient and flippant, about her abilities out of fear and ignorance. She'll eventually grow out of that as she fully embraces her magick.
This time around Ophelia must find out how the death of a kind local man is tied to the new corporate pig farm that just moved to Summerset, angering most of the farmers in the area (including Abby), and possibly the murder of her best friend Brian five years previously. It was his murder and her inability to prevent it that caused Ophelia to turn her back on her gifts. The pace of the story flows well, and though the who in the whodunit was fairly easy to figure out, the depth of their insanity was unexpected. My only quibble with it was the tired trope of modern witch hunters having direct ancestral ties to someone involved in the Salem Witch Trials. There are enough present-day paranoid (and sociopathic) people who fear witches without the need to dredge up Salem for an antagonist.
One of the things I like about this series is the author's respect for her protagonists. Abby is the strong, loving grandma we all know and love dearly but know better than to cross. Ophelia is intelligent and growing into her strength after years of hiding from the world. She doesn't generally wander off looking for trouble. It finds her and she uses her head (and her magick) to get out of sticky situations. A ditzy protagonist will turn me off a series every time, no matter how educated the person is supposed to be. Damsgaard also handles the magick with utmost respect, both with Abby's vast wealth of knowledge and Ophelia's realistic growing pains.
Three pistols for an interesting mystery, even if it was not a surprise. Four flying brooms for realistic representation of elemental magick and rune divination. And Abby. She's more than worth the price of the book all on her own.
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