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A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperTorch Mass Market  ISBN/ITEM#: 0060788194
Date: 27 June, 2006 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

There's lots of action in A Fistful of Charms but this is also a book of questions. Rachel is a white witch, an earth witch, but she can also do ley line magic and that's a very unique combination of talents. While dating Nick Sparagmos, Rachel ended up with two demon marks in order to save Nick who'd called up the demon in the first place. She's understandably upset to learn that Nick came back and left without trying to see her but even more upset that he took Jax, Jenks' oldest son with him. Jenks is still not talking to Rachel but she's determined to help him rescue Jax before he can freeze in the cold of a Michigan spring. The problem is that because of his pixie size, Jenks has the same problem with cold and Rachel must find a way to make him 'big' so he can survive to find Jax. Next, Rachel needs a way to "were" because if challenged again she could loose if she's in human form and the challenger is a wolf. She finds the spells she needs but they're in a demon spell book -- the spells don't use any evil ingredients or sacrifices but...

"I'd seen her make the curse. No one had died to make it. I was paying the price, not some poor animal or sacrificial person. Was it possible for a curse to be technically black but morally white? Did that make using it right..."
The use of these curses is good but the curse itself is evil and will leave a stain on Rachel's soul. There's a lot of discussion of choices and good versus evil and white versus black magic. Do the ends ever justify the means? Are there situations and causes that you'd jeopardize your soul in order to correct. There are many issues in this story that cause Rachel and her friends to evaluate their beliefs.
"There is black. There is white. Gray is a cowardly excuse to mix our wants with our needs. But I wasn't sure I could believe it anymore as I stood in a charm shop buying materials to twist a black curse. Just his once, I thought. Just this once, and never again."
It's not a preachy book. All the moral compass digressions are very germane to the plot and for some readers, I'm sure, will be unnoticed in the action and adventure of this personal run for Rachel and Jenks. Harrison just keeps getting better and better, Rachel Morgan and crew are fully realized and their environment while not that different from ours (except for the magic and magical beings being in the mix) is a good springboard for examining these larger issues.

Highly recommended.

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