A Hidden Witch is the second in the series which begins with A Modern Witch which I raved about a couple of weeks ago. The main character in this second book is Elorie who has grown up in this universe’s other main community of witches in North America, a village in Nova Scotia called Fisher’s Cove. Unlike the prior novel’s main character Lauren, Elorie has grown up within the witch community, but with no powers of her own. She trains the young witchlings of her village, and she has created a successful life for herself: running a Bed and Breakfast with her husband and crafting jewelry from the sea glass she gleans from the local beaches. There was a time that she desperately wanted to have witch powers, but she has tried to put that desire behind her.
Elorie is a harder character to like than Lauren. Elorie is uncomfortable with change and is a bit more complicated and interesting than Lauren because her desires and interests are somewhat in conflict with her abilities. Through the course of the novel she learns that she does have magic powers, but they are powers that have not been previously discovered by her forebears because they inherent in the Internet. And that fact presents a problem because Elorie is a bit of a technophobe. Furthermore, it is not clear at all what if anything these new powers can do. Thus, there is more dramatic conflict at the core of this book than there was in the first.
The witch community depicted in this series remains absolutely delightful. The witches support each other in community, and that support extends beyond the families to the non-witches who live and work around the witches. These books have a vision of a magical community that is refreshingly free of any fear of non-witches or other witch communities. It struck me as I read these books just how strongly we in the Pagan community are indoctrinated into an unhealthy fear of non-Pagans and other Pagans outside of our individual traditions or even other Pagans within our traditions. Some fear is justified: people continue to lose their jobs and children because of their faith in this country, and we are not that far removed from the Satanic Panic of the Eighties. But we also exchange tales of internecine conflicts between Pagans, and attentively defend boundaries which once helped people be safe and grow but which may no longer be healthy. Stepping into the world of these first two of Geary’s books is to enter a world free of such fears and conflicts.
The core of these books appeal is the warm familial and intergenerational bonds between the characters. There is romance and (one presumes) some healthy sex lives happening around the group since there are two additional pregnancies begun in this second book. But neither of these elements are the focus of the novels. Instead, the focus is on the familial relationships between the characters. As in the previous book, A Hidden Witch presents a world where people love each other, and help each other learn, grow and heal.
Geary also seems to be handling well the inevitable inflation of powers that tend to occur in narrative fiction that includes superhuman powers. On the one hand, we want every story to be bigger and flashier than the last, but, on the other hand, if the powers become too outrageous, it becomes hard to create any kind of tension in the story since the characters should be so powerful as to be able to immediately solve any problem. Geary is maintaining a nice balance and resisting making her characters too powerful while introducing higher stakes. I would note that this second novel has two pregnancies to the first novel’s one, and three major magic circle castings to the first book’s one. The series seems to be heading towards a Singularity of unrelenting births and circle castings. I am looking forward to it.