Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers


Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters who bring magic into our lives.

Midnight Enchantments: Tim Powers
By Cerridwen Iris Shea

Remember Compuserve Forums? That’s how long it’s been since the first time I read a Tim Powers novel. I was on a readers’ forum in Compuserve, and I wanted an interesting book, something unlike anything I’d ever read before. One of the other forum members, knowing I read tarot cards, suggested Tim Powers’s novel LAST CALL, where one of the major plot actions is high stakes poker using tarot.

I loved the way Celtic mythology of the Fisher King wove within the urban fantasy context set, in all places, Vegas. I love the way tarot wove through it. I couldn’t put it down — I read it straight through. The magic within the book had its own momentum. You couldn’t see how Scott could win against these odds, and yet couldn’t bear him to lose.

It’s one of those books I’ve been afraid to re-read in the intervening years, afraid I won’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. The breathless joy with which it captured me might never be recreated. But I know it’s in a box downstairs, waiting to be unpacked in the new house, and I know, when I finally unpack it, I’ll re-read it.

Quite a few years passed before I read the other books in the trilogy, EXPIRATION DATE and EARTHQUAKE WEATHER. I enjoyed them, but none of the others packed the punch to me of LAST CALL.

I’ve read many of his other novels through the years. THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, with a premise of Byron and Shelley dealing with vampires, and THE DRAWING OF THE DARK, about a struggle between Muslim and Christian magicians were my favorites. DECLARE, on the other hand, just annoyed me. I felt like he was hitting me over the head with a religious two by four, and I didn’t like it. And then I felt guilty about the reaction, because I’d always held his work in such high esteem.

You can learn more about LAST CALL and Tim Powers’s other work here.

–Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn Worldwide for sixteen years. She writes the Merry’s Dalliance Pirate Fantasies, and teaches workshops all over the world. This is her busy season. Visit her website: www.cerridwenscottage.com

Midnight Enchantments: Lily Ivory


Midnight Enchantments is a series featuring essays on the genre, books, and characters we love in paranormal fiction/urban fantasy, et al.

Midnight Enchantments: Lily Ivory
by Cerridwen Iris Shea

Lily Ivory, hereditary witch, the is primary protagonist in Juliet Blackwell’s delightful Witchcraft mysteries: SECONDHAND SPIRITS, A CAST OFF COVEN, HEXES AND HEMLINES, and the upcoming IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE (scheduled for July 2012).

Lily’s spent a good deal of her life on the move. Now, that she’s settled in San Francisco, running a vintage clothing store, she finds that she WANTS to put down roots. She WANTS to have friends. It’s not always easy to make friends when you’re used to being on your own, and it’s not always easy to find your place in a diverse magical community, which San Francisco supports. But Lily is a woman of intelligence, ingenuity, AND magic, and she learns from her mistakes.

She’s also got Oscar, the familiar given to her by the sexy, mysterious Aidan, a powerful local witch. She grows fond of the odd little fellow, who morphs into a pig around civilians, adds power to her spells, and, oh yeah, spies on her for Aidan.

Lily’s magic is hereditary. She was also trained, by her grandmother, and there’s some sort of secret about her father connected to magic, tidbits of which are revealed in each book. She’s got the family grimoire, and is trained in its use. You couldn’t find the spells she uses in a book at Barnes & Noble — and wouldn’t want to. Her spells are for the well-trained practitioner. And yet, she also knows how to align her magic with others in the community: her friend Bronwyn, who’s Wiccan, and Bronwyn’s coven; Aidan, upon occasion; the voudoun priest Herve LeMansac. She’s not a “my way is the only way” kind of witch, nor is she a “if we all envision white light, the nasties go away.” She’s practical (most of the time) and knows how to marshal resources.

Her love life is a bit of a tangle, but that adds spice to the books. She’s not limited by a relationship yet — there are still several interesting possibilities.

One of the things I truly love about the series is the care and detail spent dealing with Lily’s time in her shop. She doesn’t let magic take over her life; magic ENHANCES her life. It truly gives her joy to find a beautiful piece of vintage clothing with a history, and find the right person to give it a new home. She’s good at her job and loves it. How often do we read books where characters seem to have jobs, but we never actually see them work? Since work is such a huge part of most of our daily lives, it influences our characters. To see how Lily’s job reflects and enhances her character is a wonderful thing.

Lily is one of my favorite characters in modern paranormal fiction. She’s the kind of woman I want as my friend, and the kind of witch I want watching my back.

You can find out more about Lily on Juliet Blackwell’s website.

Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn’s calendars and almanacs for sixteen years. She also writes the Merry’s Dalliance fantasy pirate adventures. She teaches tarot workshops, and is thrilled to finally have her own herb garden and still room. Find her on the web at www.cerridwenscottage.com. This is her busy season.