The Last Witch of Kalhoun Holler – Hmmm, maybe.

The Last Witch of Kalhoun Holler.
Marmalade and Magic.
By Michael Anderle.
My rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ out of five stars.

After Jemma Nox’s mother left, what was left of her family’s world fell apart. Jemma knew she and her dad needed a change, but really?

Jemma would follow her dad anywhere. She never would have guessed that anywhere included the likes of Kalhoun County.

Planted squarely in the heart of Appalachia, this new home feels like anything but.

Jemma is strong, adaptable, and smart. She’s not going to let a little culture shock scare her.

But this place is different, and not just because the hottest hangout is the hardware store parking lot. It’s something in the air, in the water, and all those somethings lead to Elloise Brickellwood.

Ms. Brickellwood, or Mama B to those who know her, is a fixture of Kalhoun County. But is she more than just a venerable town elder?

The strange, sometimes sinister events that gather around her are just coincidences, aren’t they?

Jemma finds herself caught in the orbit of the strange gravity of this woman. Soon, she’ll get more answers than she could ever want…

One can say a lot of things about Michael Anderle, like him unfortunately putting his name on a lot of crap written by wannabe authors, but he is a decent author when he writes himself and, although he mostly sticks to science fiction, fantasy and urban fantasy, he has produced books with a wide range of story types.

Not everything that he himself writes is good but that is, for me at least, mostly because the occasional poor/weird/crappy choice of stories.

This is a new series from Anderle and is actually written by Anderle and, again, it is again a bit different indeed from the stories from him that I have read before.

As the book blurb states, Jemma and her father has moved to some backwater town in Kalhoun County. I do like this setting. It is different from most urban fantasy books and I like the rather quaint setting. Maybe it should be labelled rural fantasy instead? The people in Kalhoun county is oftentimes as, shall we say original, as one would expect from such a setting.

Another thing I like with the story is that it is one of these stories where the main protagonist is introduced to the idea of magic actually being a real thing for the first time and it is not done in the usual got attacked by a vampire or saved by a werewolf or some other banzai style. Instead the story putters along rather slowly while Jemma is taken under the wings of the quaint but mysterious old lady that goes under the name of Ms. Brickelwood or Mama B.

Not surprisingly Jemma eventually learns that Mama B is indeed the last witch of Kalhoun Holler.

I also like that this book is different from a lot of urban fantasy in that it delves into the part of the witch lore where witches are herbalists, potion brewers, hex makers and occasional spell casters instead of just throwing fireballs and lightning around while talking smack every chance they get. On the hole the story in this book is much more down to earth than most urban fantasy novels nowadays.

The story is pretty much carried by Jemma and Mama B. The rest of the characters are, unfortunately, rather bland, including her father and the two friends she makes as the story progresses.

I was a bit concerned about Jemma at the beginning of the book since there was quite a bit of complaining and whining from Jemma. It did get better but still, Jemma spent a lot of the book in a bit of a funk and made some poor choices with rather predictable bad consequences.

The part of the story with Jemma’s mother having left her and her father and her father wallowing in grief and not wanting to let go was also a part that I could have been without. It didn’t really add anything positive to the story.

As I mentioned the story is not the most fast paced one but it is not slow enough to be boring either although it does sit just barely above that threshold as far as I am concerned. Anyway, it does build up to a bit of a magical confrontation towards the end and the outcome kind of sets the stage for further books in the series.

I think this series has promise but it very much depends on what road Anderle takes with the next book in the series. So I guess this one goes on the maybe shelf.

Oh, by the way. The name of the series is of course somewhat silly. I almost gave it a pass because of that weird name.

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