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Light urban fantasy in an occult shop

By Linda Schoales, editor

Feb 25, 2009: At 8 chapters, “Curio Killed the Cat” is the beginning of an urban fantasy set in an occult shop. The staff, “a lazy hoodoo spellcaster, a feminist succubus, and snobbish Wiccan priest”, are worried about their jobs, their boss and their spells. Their boss, Madam Curio, has let the financial side of the business slide and the store is in trouble. The staff each try in their own unique way to help save the store.

Briar, the spellcaster, is lazy, waaay bored, has no service skills, and would rather try a new spell than actually work or be nice to customers. Lilith, the succubus, could use her demonic powers to have men eating out of her hand, but wants to be loved for her brains and her organizational skills. Liam looks down on Briar for bending, and sometimes violating, the “and it do no harm” rule of Wicca. Add to this unlikely mix a vague, mostly absent boss who drinks, and a goth boy with a crush and a penchant for bad poetry, and you have the potential for a modern comedy of errors.

The characters are fun, well-drawn and feel real. The bantering between them is typical of people who have to work together without liking it. Briar can’t stop herself from blurting out whatever sarcastic comment comes to mind and everyone is rolling their eyes at each other. Lilith tries to keep her head and her temper while trying to organize the store and come up with a way to increase the profit margin. The challenge, of course, will be combining their talents to save the store and their jobs.

The story is told in first person, starting with Briar’s point of view, and then switching between Lilith, Briar and Liam. The writing is solid and the premise sounds like it should make a good story, once it gets going. The pace so far is leisurely, with a lot of dialog and some subplots. So far, a relative of the boss has visited briefly, Lilith has attracted a persistent suitor, Briar actually got a client who is willing to spend money, and a bunch of demonstrators have started picketing the store. It’s not yet clear if any of these incidents will feed into the main plot of saving the store but they do add to the general chaos. There are some funny moments, such as when Lilith’s mother, also a succubus, calls her at home. There is also a section narrated by one of the teenaged picketers that is great. The humour is dry and pokes fun at people who don’t think.

So far “Curio Killed the Cat” is a solid beginning to an urban fantasy with an interesting cast of characters who are forced to work together. The pace is a bit slow but the characters have been introduced, the stage is set, and the story is progressing towards a rescue plan for the occult shop. If you like light urban fantasy I would recommend giving this one a try.

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