In December I was very ill. The kind that hits you like a truck and then you lay in bed for days either wishing for good meds or looking at the interesting patterns on the ceiling after you take the good meds. When I was able to want to read I grabbed my Kindle and looked around the cheap/free reads section. All I had loaded on it was the scriptures, Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo. Not what you want to read with reduced brain capacity.
I like urban fantasy. I enjoy the mix of magic and city life. I enjoy having the lightness of topic that most of them present. I like the humor. So when I saw A Modern Witch by Debra Geary I took the offer of a free book. I like urban fantasy, it seemed like a good choice.
But the problem was, I read through it in short order and there were more. I guiltily bought several that weekend. Her books are on the Prime lending on Amazon, so each month I get one more. (Except for the month I got The Worst Hard Time.) But I never wanted to admit to loving them. They are urban fantasy, but there is a good dose of romance in them too, and that didn't sit well with my public persona.
But here goes, I, Katherine D. Ward, LOVE these books. They calm my soul and make me happy in ways other light reading just doesn't. Here's why:
1. They are happy books. No murders, no crime, no gritty urban life. There isn't really an antagonist. The conflict necessary to a book arises from the common issues of life. How often do you have an antagonist? I personally never have.
2. They have families. I have often pondered what I would write if I ever went into fiction. I've long thought about books with real families, not ones who send their children away so the writer doesn't have to deal with the details of a true family. Ms. Geary has kids completely integrated into her character's lives. They worry about colic and babysitting and what to do with a troublesome child.
3. They are all perfect parents. OK, I admit, this bugs me sometimes too, but having happy families around in fiction is so important, I will gladly put up with it. The incredible amount of patience displayed by the parents in these books puts any family you have ever heard of to shame. But it is nice to see that instead of the much more common list of horrible things parents do to their children.
4. They are well written. I have an obsessive mind. When I am not feeling well and read a lot I will often get a stack of books by a new author and plow through all of them. A few books in I could catalog the structure of each book, predict how each new one will go and list the verbal ticks and favorite phrases of the author. Reading the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich was particularly bad. Though there are so many of them I overdosed.
The structure of these novels feels less rigid to me because of the lack of a protagonist/antagonist struggle. There definitely is conflict in each novel, at least the ones I have read so far, based in the personal changes of the new witch introduced each novel and her attempts to find her place. In each successive book the previous witch somehow shares her growth with the new person to come in.
5. As I just implied, these books are about community. Each of us longs to be part of a community, to have that sitcom type life where people just drop in and visit all the time. Not very many of us have it. As an active member of the LDS church I have a stronger community than most and I am so grateful. These books feel familiar to me as they reflect the bonds I have and show how strengthening them can only strengthen me and my family.
6. OK, I admit it, the romance bits are nice too. Especially because there isn't much sex. I like sex, you don't get 6 kids without enjoying physical contact, but I don't like reading about it. Someone else's erotic scene feels like mechanics to me. Leaving it out is lovely.
7. They make me happy. Most books leave some kind of lingering feeling, the buzzing of new ideas trying to combine with old thoughts (At Home); the uncomfortable itchiness of death and evil ideas (sorry G.R.R. Martin, looking at you) or even the coziness of old friends (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter). When I read a Witch book by Debra Geary, I feel happy. Happy that another family is happy, even if they are fictional.
So go out and read them, give yourself time to have a sweet guilty pleasure. Only on Amazon right now though.
A Modern Witch. Debra Geary. Fireweed Publishing. 2011