Vande Velde, Vivian. Magic Can Be Murder. Harcourt Brace, 2000. IBN 0-15-202665-7. $17.00. 197 pp. A 4+ FI Reviewed by Lillian H. Heil Nola and her mother are witches; witches are feared, hated, and put into prison. When Nola’s mother starts hearing voices, her behavior convinces people she is using witchcraft. To avoid persecution, Nola and her mother are constantly on the move. Nola’s fear of discovery leads her to use water-spying spells to check on people who might be following them to accuse them of witchcraft. The plot thickens when she witnesses a murder, and it becomes positively slapstick when Nola returns to the scene to get rid of an incriminating bucket of water, still spying on a farmer who had called them witches. A sprained ankle and falling in love with the police commissioner add up to an amusing solution to the murder and an ending that will make the reader chuckle. Vande Velde has always dealt with witches and princesses in an unorthodox manner, but the comic touch to this tale is delightful. Her characters have depth, her humor is tongue in cheek, and the fast-moving plot keeps pace with the madcap events Nola brings on herself.
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