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Witch Way to the Mall
Edited by Esther Friesner
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Carolyn Frank
Baen Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439132746
Date: 26 May 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Everyone knows that witches have always lived deep in the woods or at the extreme edges of small towns, although more modern day witches have migrated to the major cities. In America as suburbia has grown to be the dominant place to reside and work, witches have been slow to follow. Finally witches have moved to where most of us live and shop, and you can now find the answer to Witch Way to the Mall.

In “Birdwitching” by Harry Turtledove, the annual Yule bird count becomes an escalating contest between two suburban witches from neighboring towns. As the object of the one day bird count is to maximize the number of different bird species identified living in your geographical space, it is not exactly ethical to introduce species from out of the area to be identified by the local birders. But when people, especially witches, get fired up, ethics just seem to fly away.

In “Tacos for Tezcatlipoca” by Kevin Andrew Murphy, Bryce Pierponte stumbles upon a taxidermy project run wild at a suburban estate sale. He successfully bargains for the object, labeled manticore cub, takes it home, names it Matabor, and inadvertently brings it to life. With the assistance of Matabor's old master's formulary, Bryce starts on his new career as a magician. But his liberal substitutions on the ingredients for his first spells end up sending him off in a radically different direction.

In “Twice a Year” by Esther Friesner, Lois is an immortal witch tied to her designated area by the New World Witchy Council. Over the centuries she has transformed her marshy piece of New England seacoast into a thriving suburban town. Her only folly was her marriage two centuries ago to a man who stole some of her magical capabilities. He now returns twice a year in endless attempts to take over her town. Although working as dental hygienist may not appear as a typical trade for a witch, some of the skills can come in handy.

In “There is no I in Coven” by Jody Lynn Nye, Ceridwyn watches her children play the magical sport of Pentackle. Ceridwyn is the witch version of a soccer mom, and one who formerly excelled at the sport herself. Although nine year old Angelica and twelve year old Heimdall spend their time at home mildly magically feuding, they are on the same Pentackle team for their school. In order for their team to win they need to learn the concept of teamwork, which is the same in a mundane or in a spell casting sport.

In these 21 tales of various types of witches and magicians based in American suburbia, the reader finds all of the touchstones of this subculture: Taco Bell and KFC, John Deere lawn-mowers and Weber grills, grassy lawns and softball playing fields. And as added attractions, some of the more thoughtful and colorful magical skills and abilities. Many of these stories will make you smile, some will provoke laughter, but all bring entertainment and enjoyment, even if you are not headed to the mall.

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