*I received free copies of this novella and novel via Kevin Potter’s Magic Through the Ages event on Facebook*
A Study in Mischief blurb:
Wizards are born, witches are made, and they mix about as well as oil and water. So when an introverted wizard and a troublemaking witch cross paths, what could possibly go wrong?
Lily Singer is a conscientious librarian who just wants to practice her wizardry and be left alone. Sebastian Blackwell is a ne’er-do-well witch for hire who enjoys getting under peoples’ skin but always gets the job done in the end. When circumstance forces them to band together against a common enemy, there’s no telling how the dice will fall.
This meeting of opposites–and the mischief that follows–is a roller coaster of laughs and life lessons. The only question left is, what’s a girl to do when she finds out her arch rival isn’t so bad after all?
Saving the world is such a bother when it makes you late for tea. By day, book-loving wizard Lily Singer manages library archives. By night? She sleeps, of course. In between, she studies magic and tries to keep her witch friend Sebastian out of trouble. Much to her displeasure, he finds it anyway and drags her along with him. From unmaking ancient curses to rescuing a town lost in time, Lily and Sebastian fight to avert magical mayhem. Meanwhile, Lily’s mysterious past begins to unfold—a past hidden from her by those she trusts most. Will she be able to discover the truth despite them?
I don’t know if I’ve explained yet my ‘real book’ vs ebook stance, but now seems like the perfect time (bear with me review-fans…there IS a point!). I live in a house with very little storage space, into which I have already squeezed 8 bookcases (6 for me and 2 for the children) at the expense of unnecessary frivolities like clothes and toy storage. Therefore, whilst I still love the feel and smell of both old and new ‘real’ books, I do 90% of my reading these days on my battered old first gen Kindle. It just makes logistical sense. I only buy hard copies of books that I consider ‘keepers’: ones that I know I will reread more than once.
All this to say that having received these books on e-format for free as part of a Facebook launch party for Kevin Potter’s The Fall of an Overlord, I have immediately added them to my personal hard-copy purchase list, and intend to buy the whole series, along with anything else Lydia Sherrer chooses to write. The Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus series definitely qualify for my ‘keepers’ pile!
The main reason is, of course, personal preference. I have a penchant for fantasy, but also a soft spot for well-written humour. The kind of bantery, light-hearted tone that you find in various formats with authors such as Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and Elizabeth Peters. Not necessarily laugh-out-loud humour, but a kind of wry sideways slant that shows you the author, characters and story aren’t taking themselves too seriously. This series has that tone to perfection.
Being the resident expert on magic, she’d taken a front seat to the spectacularly boring stream of absolutely nothing.
– Lily’s study of CCTV security footage in A Study in Mischief, Lydia Sherrer
He was a man of action, not scribbly things.
– Sebastian, A Study in Mischief, Lydia Sherrer
The characters are instantly likeable: imperfect but good-humoured about it, and with a familiar chemistry to fans of working couples such as Elizabeth Peter’s Peabody and Emerson. It’s a nice touch to have the labels of witch and wizard denoting the character’s access route to their magic, rather than any sort of gender role: wizards (Lily) have innate, genetic magical abilities, whereas witches (Sebastian) have to purchase their abilities via trades and favours. I am particularly excited to learn more about this system of trading and how the fae/demons etc fit into this reality.
The novella, A Study in Mischief, has a fun structure of the story of how the friends meet told in flashback format by the characters in turn, so we get their alternating points of view, and thereby a good insight into each character with plenty of showing rather than telling. I would recommend reading it AFTER Beginnings rather than before like I did, as there are character and plot developments contained that have not yet occured in the first novel (e.g. Sir Kipling the cat’s development into a more central character).
Beginnings consists of two separate adventures, one a short story about banishing a ghost and breaking a curse, and the other a slightly longer, two-part tale about the theft of a magical artefact and a dangerous loop in time. Both narratives introduce the characters, showcase their different styles and temperaments, and whilst the individual plotlines are neatly wrapped, the reader is given some nudges towards wider mysteries (around Lily and Sebastian’s pasts and family histories) that will evidently form part of a larger plot arc throughout the series.
I am excited to see how these characters evolve, and follow their further magical adventures, and can wholeheartedly recommend these books to other fans of magic, wit and adventure. Oh, and also fans of books, cats and more books!
Despite herself, the prospect of an unknown, malignant spell – and new books to explore – was too tempting to delay.
– Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus: Beginnings, Lydia Sherrer
At the time of writing, Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus: A Study in Mischief is free to download on Amazon, so get your copy here and let me know if you agree with me!