Book Review – In Search of a Witch’s Soul by D. Lieber

A big thank you to RABT Book Tours and the author for the opportunity to read and review.

Publisher: Ink & Magick
Pages: 169
Characters: Anna, Jack, Jesse, Fjolnir
POV: 1st
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Historical

Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.

When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.

As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.

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I love stories set in the 1920s, especially if there is a touch of fantasy about them. I thought the author’s world building of a 1920s where witches have revealed themselves to the world was fabulous. It felt very real, and was easy to imagine, and I liked the description of a 1920s with a magical layer. I thought it was a nice touch having the prohibition being the prohibition of magic. I loved some of the language choices used too eg “…. melting like chocolate icing on a birthday cake. It seemed to paste the building into the gloomy neighborhood.”

I really felt for Jack, and how his love for Anna isn’t reciprocated because she is totally focused in a disturbing, almost addictive way, on using magic to relive her time with her lost love, and their mutual friend, Cyr. Jack is a decent man, and it’s obvious how much he loves Anna, and keeps doing so, despite being hurt over and over.

Jesse was an interesting character too, and kept me guessing as to his motivations. He is manipulative but that adds to the layers in his character.

Unfortunately, despite it being her story, Anna appealed to me the least of all the cast of this story. She is so fixated on Cyr whom she is convinced was her soul mate, that she doesn’t see what is in front of her until it is too late. She then swaps one addiction for another, and repeats her behaviour rather than learning from it. I found this very disappointing. For a detective, I thought she missed the obvious on several occasions but then it’s more difficult to work things out often, when emotionally involved.

I thought the Living Memory spell was an interesting one, especially with its consequences of one good dream also results in a bad memory. I liked the way the clues as to Anna’s current investigate were scattered through her Living Memory experiences.

I thought the premise of the story was intriguing. I figured out who the bad guy was about half way through the story but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it. He was a total piece of work, and I felt sorry for those who got tangled up in his web. As an aside, Anna’s reaction to the possible bisexuality of one of the characters felt realistic for the time although I doubt it would go down well with readers if this was a contemporary story. Ditto for the way one of the characters dismisses his own sexuality as a plot device, and part of his plan. I found that part of the story disappointing too.

I’d recommend this to readers who enjoy historical stories with supernatural elements and noir stores set in the 1920s. 4 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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