Witches Under Way is the second book of Debora Geary’s WitchLight Trilogy. Lizard and Elsie continue their journey through the WitchLight program which is meant to bring about changes in a witch’s life. In this segment of the two character’s arcs they are each led to a climatictic scene in which they face their fears and do something uncomfortable and, yet, deeply rewarding.
Nat pushes Elsie out of the nest at the Yoga studio, but Elsie uses the opportunity to find the playfulness and spontinuity that she lacked in her childhood. She has the community at Witch Central create a jar full of silly things to do, and she attempts those that she can, daring herself to be freer. Vero who is a retired, world-famous opera singer (as well as one of the pair that runs the WitchLight program) offers to teach Elsie to sing, and Elsie elicits the four year-old Aervyn to teach her to play.
Meanwhile, Lizard goes to college for the first time, and is invited into a grad-school seminar based upon her first assignment in her undergrad poetry class. Her journey culminates in her reciting at a poetry slam at the Starry Plough (I really should get over there again: it’s been years since I’ve had beer and listened to some music there). The maps she made for Lauren catch the eye of her rich dot-com client, Josh, who also wants to get to know her better. Lizard has a lot of barriers which need to come down, and this story carries her a bit further on that journey.
Witchcraft has a less central role in the trilogy (as opposed to Geary’s on-going A Modern Witch series). None of the major moments in this particular novel involve the supernatural talents that Geary’s witches possess. And, yet, it is worth noting that Geary genuinely gets what magic is about. As a tertiary character says to Lizard,
‘Words have power. And when you put them out there, it makes them real for other people, and maybe it changes the world a little.’ He shrugged. ‘Or maybe it changes you.’
Geary’s strength continues to be her protrayal of community. This book includes a wonderful water-fight at Witch Central in Berkeley as well as Elsie’s continued integration into a group of knitter’s at Caro’s yarn shop. Geary’s universe is one in which even the young, rich software developer seeks a home in a lively residential neighborhood full of families. Many of Geary’s main characters are isolated people who find a community and then blosom. In this trilogy, Elsie brings no one from her previous life (she does have painful encounter with her estranged mother), and Lizard comes with one prior interesting relationship (to a bus driver). Both of these characters are brought into the unexpected warmth and acceptance of new communities where they find approval and self-worth.