Students are spooked at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, and Lily is called in to search for possible paranormal activity. In return she’s been promised a trunkful of Victorian-era clothes recently discovered in a school storage closet.
But Lily finds something else: the body of a wealthy patron of the school. In between running the store and seeing her new boyfriend, Max—a “mythbuster” who is uncomfortable with her witchcraft—she uses her sleuthing skills to try to solve the murder. Soon Lily senses something from the school’s vintage clothes, but it’s not the smell of mothballs—it’s the unmistakable aura of evil intent.
Lily banished La Llorona and life at Aunt Cora’s Closet has returned to normal. But Maya’s art school is haunted and Lily agrees to check it out in exchange for some antique dresses. She soon learns there is more than ghosts haunting the school and Lily is, once again, determined to banish dark spirits.
I always enjoy A Cast-off Coven because of the art school setting. Blackwell’s descriptions have me enthralled with the school and I wish the place was real! The building is gorgeous and historic, plus I like how the students are free to move around the campus and interact with a variety of mediums. The mystery is interesting as Lily must deal with a suicidal ghost and a lusty demon which takes her outside of her witchy brewing comforts. I love the dancing dresses inspired by Lily’s sex magic and the mysterious closet full of clothing. And I am a sucker for the creepy music box. I did craved more on the history of the clothes and the women who owned them. I’m a historian so I know that you rarely find those details in real life, but this is a cozy mystery. I want to know more!
Readers are also introduced to a number of new interesting characters. There are a handful of artists but I quickly tired of the broody students and teachers. I did, however, enjoy Luc who is the gorgeous sculpture instructor and also happens to be the brother of hunky Max Carmichael, Lily’s crush. Her association with Luc causes some hard feelings between Lily and Max. We finally meet Sailor, a moody reluctant psychic who is my favorite character of the series! He is in debt to Aidan and is loaned out to help Lily in the battle. Plus we get to spend time with the Maya, Bronwyn, and Herve from Secondhand Spirits.
The main men have not improved since Secondhand Spirits. In fact they have only gotten worse. Aidan is still annoyingly mysterious and demanding. It’s just hard for me to like a guy who tries to control everyone he meets. And I was sick of Max by the end of the book. He gets all aggressive and demanding with Lily after learning she was at the art school the night of the murder. He’s territorial when any other man is around her. He beats up Sailor but won’t say why. Lily has to find out about his past from other people and then has to push Max to open up at the end of the book. Plus, he refuses to accept Lily’s witchiness despite witnessing her bind the demon. I’m ok with the sexual tension between the two of them but it just seems like a failed relationship from the beginning. They do not have enough in common to keep them together.
I still enjoyed A Cast-off Coven and recommend it for paranormal cozy-mystery readers not wanting a fun steamy romance. I enjoyed it! Let me know what you think!