The Warding of Willowmere (Willowmere Chronicles, Book 2)

by Alison Baird
ISBN: 014301529X

Post Your Opinion
A Review of: The Warding of Willowmere
by M. Wayne Cunningham

"Why should a witch be phoning a nun?" That's one of the many questions Willowmere teenager, Claire Norton, must find an answer to as she tip-toes through a minefield of mind games between Wiccans, witches, warlocks, and daimons, good and bad, in Alison Baird's second volume in the Willowmere Chronicles. Claire's tight wire act is as suspenseful as any you'll find. For the Claire Norton you see really isn't Claire Norton, or at least not just Claire Norton. She's also a revenant, a reincarnation of a 17th century Scottish lass, Alice Ramsay, and before that of Flower-in-a-drought, a maiden in the ancient hinterlands of Africa. In Scotland she was falsely persecuted and killed for being a witch; in Africa she challenged a shaman, Mamba, and his rogue daimon ally, Phobetor. She was helped by her Familiar, Leo, whose ability to shift-shape into animal, large and small, she had picked up as well.
Claire and Leo are now in more modern times but facing the same adversaries from the past, the same evil wolves in sheep's clothing, still up to their age-old efforts to enslave all of humanity. For good measure Baird incorporates the stories of the 18th century French Beast of Gevaudan and the 1898 Kenyan killer lions and alludes to Ogopogo and the sasquatch to add authenticity to the narrative. But whatever guise evil chooses to shroud itself in, Claire knows prophetically that even as she lives the life of an ordinary school girl with gossiping chums and a mother who has mysteriously disappeared, she must battle her former enemies and their witchcraft, potions and spells. She finds allies (although sometimes through circuitous routes) in her older friend Dr. Myra Moore and the doctor's menagerie of pets; in Leo, of course; in a great horned Owl; in an African gray parrot; and in a peregrine falcon that hovers nearby. She gains solace from the scribblings of Al Ramsey, Dr. Moore's uncle and a probable revenant too. And she escapes when she can to the warm memories of her former lover, William Macfarlane. There's the love of her current father despite his over protectiveness, as she sees it, and edging into her life is a new-found flame, Brian Andrews, potentially able to make her forget William.
Opposing her are the Van Burens, uncle and nephew reincarnates of Mamba and Phobetor, their assorted rogue daimons from captured crows to attack dogs, and a wannabe witch, a schoolmate named Josie who finds she has more than she can handle when she falsely confesses to being the revenant of Alice Ramsay and the Van Burens sic their killer dogs on her.
Baird has done a masterful job of mixing and matching story elements-Claire and her supernatural foes juxtaposed with Claire and her tussles with her human nemesis, Josie. The background characters and Claire's tiffs with her dad are realistically rendered. And there's white-knuckle tension when Claire, in the shape of a crow, narrowly escapes being shot by the elder Van Buren. The ending of the book is neat and tidy but there are teasers for the next book too: more dangers to come, a mother to find, a father to be told about past lives and a puzzle to be solved about a peregrine falcon.
You'll need to read the book to find out why a witch phones a nun, but the read will be well worth it.

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us