The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest by Scott A. Lerner
Series: Samuel Roberts Thriller (# 4)
Release Date: October 31, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
Source: book provided by Tribute Books for review
Samuel Roberts, a lawyer in Champaign, Illinois, has just moved to a new home to escape the memories of his old place—the stray body parts left by evil entities as well as traces of his relationship with Susan, who left him because he couldn’t stop risking both their lives trying to save the world. That leaves Sam free to fall in love again.
Sam falls hard, suspiciously hard, for Bridget Gillis, a beautiful fortune teller who also happens to be a witch and a member of a coven. The village that encompasses the coven was founded by Bridget’s great-great aunt, also named Bridget and a dead ringer for her descendant. The new relationship quickly gets complicated. It is two days before Halloween, and Bridget is about to be tried by her fellow witches for the crime of practicing dark magic involving the blood of children. The punishment is to be burned at the stake. Bridget needs an advocate, and Sam is the perfect man for the job.
Sam brings in Bob, who is suspicious of his best buddy’s sudden passion. The two of them have until the Witching Hour on Halloween to clear Bridget’s name and find out who is killing the local children. As they comb the area for clues, quiz the locals, and take a crash course in witchcraft and Wiccan customs, Sam and Bob can’t shake the question: is Bridget a good witch or a bad witch? The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest is the fourth Samuel Roberts Thriller.
Review: While I’ve enjoyed the earlier books in this series, Wiccan Witch felt a little flat. I had the whole thing figured out within a few chapters and that left me without my reader’s goal – that feeling of re-living a book for days after I’ve finished, remembering moments and lines, making them dear to my heart.
In this book, Sam came off as passive and obsequious. I can understand why he fell in love with Bridget (or at least thought he had), but the premise came off as false. I couldn’t buy it. It seemed as if he was in a cloud and couldn’t do anything except be in love, even though the whole premise was to defend Bridget. In previous books Sam was on top of things and sharp as a whip but here he seemed dull and slow. This may have been due to the circumstances within the story (which I can’t go into without doing a spoiler) but it just didn’t hold me.
Even Bob seemed less interesting in this book. He didn’t have his usual flair for the outrageous. In fact, the worst thing he did was wear the wrong t-shirt. He did have a few good lines but it didn’t seem that he was utilized as much in this book as in the previous chapters.
I do give one big nod – the names of secondary characters. One of the male witches is named Mage (get it? Mage?). My favorite was Agnes Moore for one of the elder witches. I’m not sure if it was meant as a nod to Agnes Moorehead (who played Endora on Bewitched) but I like to think it is.
While Wiccan Witch wasn’t necessarily a bad book, it just didn’t seem to have the feel of the previous books in the series so I have to give it one less star (rose) in the ratings.
“I am not a witch,” I said.
“No but you have premonitions. You may not recognize them or understand them but you do have them. They haunt your dreams and make you a beacon for magical forces. Come with me. I’d like to show you something.” She took my hand in hers and began to lead me out of the kitchen and down the hallway toward a staircase.
Her touch sent ripples of warmth through my body, and her scent grew stronger as we walked together. I took a deep whiff of sandalwood, anise, and cloves. I could actually feel the warmth emanating from her body.
We walked up the back stairs to the second level of the home. From there we walked down a hallway to the end, where a door opened up to reveal a smaller, narrower staircase. This led to a library. Oak bookshelves lined the walls, with an oil painting separating each shelf. The room smelled of old leather.
There was an antique tiger oak library table and four maroon leather club chairs around it. A wooden podium against one wall looked like it had come from a church. In addition there was a ladder on wheels that moved along a track. The ladder was necessary because books were shelved all the way to the top of the twelve-foot ceiling.
“Mr. Levi once offered me over a hundred thousand dollars for these books. Many have been in my family since the seventeenth century. They are beyond priceless. The collection includes the grimoire of my great-great aunt. Their pages reveal some of the greatest mysteries of magic. Mostly good magic.”
The paintings on the wall were all of stoic looking women in conservative attire. Although the pictures were well rendered, the models appeared lifeless. Only one image broke the mold. It was a picture of my hostess lying naked on her back, surrounded by lit candles. She was in the middle of a pentacle painted in red. The painting was erotic and out of place in this room. It reminded me of a heavy metal album cover. She wore the same silver necklace she was wearing this evening.
“I must say the painting of you is a lot different than the others,” I said. “I would have liked to see you model for it.” I blushed. I had spoken my thoughts aloud. She hadn’t invited me here to seduce me.
“That is not me,” she said. “Look at the date.”
I took a closer look at the canvas. The piece was signed by John William Waterhouse. The date was clearer than the signature: 1874. It was not possible, of course.
“That is my great-great aunt, Bridget Bishop. We do look alike.”
“The necklace is the same,” I said.
“It was hers.”
“Your aunt was lovely.”
Then Bridget did something totally unexpected. She kissed me gently on the lips. Passion rushed through me and I kissed her back. I was almost feverish with desire, and it scared me. It had been a long time since I had been with a woman romantically. Susan and I had broken up over a year ago. Yet what I felt now was more than desperation; it was a longing so intense that it completely overwhelmed me.
Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.