When you’ve gone your whole life feeling like you’re different, it wouldn’t seem that having your dear aunt Lucy spring the news that you’re a hereditary hedgewitch would be a good way to start fitting in. However, for Katie Lightfoot, the main character of my Magical Bakery Mysteries, that’s exactly how she began to learn where, and how, she belonged.
She’d tried to live a normal life in the usual ways – studying something she loved (baking), getting a job in that field (as an assistant manager in a bakery in Akron), working hard, falling in love, getting married … except that all came to a screeching halt when her fiancé dumped her. Her uncle Ben had just retired as the fire chief in Savannah, Georgia, and he and Lucy wanted to start a bakery. It took little urging for them to convince a bewildered and heartbroken Katie to leave her job in Ohio and join them.
In addition to starting the Honeybee Bakery with her aunt and uncle, Katie’s new start also meant learning about herbal magic, getting to know and love the ladies of the spellbook club – really an informal coven of witches with diverse magical specialties – and even the possibility of new love. She bought a little house, was adopted by a black Cairn terrier who turned out to be her familiar and settled into a life where she finally felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be.
Katie can’t wave her hand and make something appear out of the ether. She’s no Samantha Stephens. For the most part she’s simply better at listening to her intuition, has a high degree of empathy and loves to help people with her newfound knowledge of herb craft. In addition to what Aunt Lucy is teaching her, she is learning spells involving the phases of the moon, colors, flowers, tarot cards, and traditional Wiccan practices from her new friends.
However, she did inherit a few abilities like her Voice of Command and a special affinity for kitchen and garden magic. Mind you, these were talents her parents had never hinted at even though the tradition of hedgewitchery had been passed down through the women in her mother’s family for generations. Add that her father came from a long line of Shawnee medicine men, and Katie inherited a few other “powers” as well. For example, she’s a catalyst. That means when Katie is around things seem to happen. It’s one of the reasons she gets sucked into murder investigations.
One of her surprise mentors is Franklin Taite, who appears in Bewitched, Bothered and Biscotti. He is a witch hunter of sorts, but only interested in the dark arts. He reveals to Katie that she’s a lightwitch who also has a calling to battle dark magic. While she’s not sure what all that means, it does appear the murders she stumbles into have some kind of connection to the paranormal.
So why didn’t her parents tell her about her magical gifts? Fear, pure and simple. A neighbor had caught her grandmother casting a fertility spell in their back garden, it had caused a big stink in their little Ohio town, and there had even been a meeting of the town council. Katie’s mother had been terrified that her daughter would be ostracized, so she stopped practicing her own magic and insisted that Katie remain ignorant of her heritage. But Lucy felt compelled to tell her niece once Katie was old enough to make her own decisions. Now that Katie understands that she does belong and that in her “crowd” she is normal, even special, the relationship with her mother has been strained.
In Charms and Chocolate Chips, the third book in the series which came out on November 5th of this year, Katie helps the police find who murdered Autumn Boles, the head of a conservation nonprofit Katie volunteers with. Smack dab in the middle of trying to get to the bottom of things, Mary Jane Lightfoot shows up to reconcile with her daughter. Katie has to come to terms with blaming her mother for letting her feel like an outsider for so long while learning more about her own gifts – and tracking a killer with a thing for origami.