Key West Magic
by Ciar Cullen, paranormal (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-204-8


Key West Magic looks like the first book in a series of five related stories as we have five brothers who work for their mother getting sent off to various spook-related assignments. These brothers, needless to say, have psychic powers to deal with spooks.

Key West Magic is eldest son Vortrent Light's story. His assignment sends him to - duh - Key West where he has to get rid of four ghosts lingering around Molly Calloway's bed and breakfast. Our heroine Julie Calloway is a newcomer in town, having arrived from Baltimore to sort out any loose ends regarding Calloway House after the recent passing of her grandmother Molly. She doesn't want to stay, but you how things are in this kind of stories. Julie is astounded by how much money Molly had when she died (money that is now Julie's, of course, since she is the sole beneficiary in Molly's will). She is also puzzled by Molly's dealings with one "Light Fantastic, Ltd" which apparently specializes in "paranormal cleansing" and a cryptic statement in Molly's letter to her asking Julie to find some kind of necklace for "him". She can't find any necklace among Molly's possessions. Perhaps everything will be explained when Trent shows up in town and waltzes into her life.

Julie, a sensible woman with even a sensible job - lecturing about literature in a university - is not sure how to deal with the fact that she is now wealthy beyond her dreams, much less with the colorful characters that are her new neighbors during her stay in Key West. With a ghost, Emily, hovering around trying to find a way to get to the afterlife and a talking parrot, Julie is going to find that life is indeed going to even more interesting than before. Can she and Trent solve the mystery behind the mysterious necklace mentioned in Molly's letter and help Emily move on to the afterlife?

There are more to all I've described above in this story, including Julie's makeover thing. For a while I wonder how the author is going to fit all that and the kitchen sink into this story, but fortunately things pick up considerably as the story progresses. The various colorful elements of the plot come together coherently and nicely. Julie and Trent start off on the wrong foot in a manner that feels rather forced to me, but they soon evidence some pleasant chemistry when they begin working together. I wish the author has done a little bit more with the characters as Julie and Trent don't really go beyond rather one-dimensional Familiar Types With Issues characters, but I like these characters nonetheless.

The story is, to put it simply, fun. It is colorful without going overboard with the in-your-face wackiness and at the end of the day I've had fun. I like it.

Rating: 83


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