The Witches of Dixie – Laura Stamps

The Witches of Dixie – Book One of the Witchery Series
Laura Stamps
Trytium Publishing, 2007
245 pages

I’m not 100% sure what to think of this book. I like it overall, but it’s not quite what I’m used to. Of course, sometimes it’s good to get shaken up!

While it’s described as a novel, it’s more a quartet of short stories. This adds a nice variety to the book overall, and makes for interesting reading. Each story centers on a female witch of one sort of another, set in various locations in the Southern U.S. Rather than all being young teenyboppers a la “The Craft”, the witches are a variety of ages and backgrounds. And they specialize in different forms of witchcraft, which makes for a nice introduction. And everyone has cats, described as appealing little furry creatures that made me smile and think of my own two kitties.

Stamps’ writing style is lovely. She has a wonderful voice, and a definite talent for description. Her third story, “Mirabella”, is particularly artfully crafted, and I enjoyed the imagery and sensory descriptions of people, places and things. Her dialogue is believable, and her stories are rich and have good progression from beginning, to middle, to satisfying (in that there’s definite solid closure) end.

There were a few downsides. While the characters were diverse in some ways, they may leave some readers without a method of associating themselves with the characters. For example, they’re all Wiccan, which may additionally give readers unfamiliar with Wicca the idea that all Wiccans are female (and that Wiccans only worship the Goddess, due to the lack of any form of male Divinity). Additionally, since all are successfully self-employed, most readers who are traditionally employed may have trouble relating. In fact, the stories are pretty idealistic; the author extols vegetarianism, organics and feral cat rescue to the point where it felt rather preachy at times.

Still, there are lessons here. There are spells and bits of lore wrapped in the tales, as well as other interesting bits of health-related information. The positive view of Wicca is good P.R., and while the delivery can be a bit much at times, it’s well-meant and makes things clear. I would recommend this especially for newer Wiccans, or people curious about Wicca, with the caveat that this is the author’s personal interpretation of Wicca, and that not every Wiccan may be vegetarian, focus solely on the Goddess, or see faeries as helpful sprites.

It’s a good teaching tool, an enjoyable read, and well-written overall, and I’d love to see later books in the series.

Four pawprints out of five.

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