Review by: Toni V. Sweeney
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team
This collection of four short stories is a prequel to the series The Magical World of Zoraida Grey.
In the first story, Zoraida is ten-years-old and living in Bear Hollow, Arkansas, with her Granny who is rumored—rightly—to be a witch. It introduces Zoraida, her granny and some of Granny’s friends, as well as Zoraida’s close chums, Zhu and Aloysius Bartholomew Allen, “Al” for short, or “The Three Musketeers” as they call themselves. Bear Hollow and its other citizens are introduced as well as their families and their trials and worries.
Though there is a doctor in Bear Hollow, Granny does a thriving business with her herbs and potions. Zoraida considers herself “Granny’s sales force in Bear Hollow. I deliver lotions and potions and spells and what-not all the time like a magical Avon lady.”
The first adventure takes place when Zoraida, being the adventurous sort and not prone to think of danger, stumbles upon something dark and threatening one night and learns of the Native American legend of skinwalkers and the terrible price one pays upon becoming one.
The other stories chronicle a misadventure in dealing with Tarot; Zoraida fights a ghost and possibly what might be the devil; while the last one introduces the clan Logan, and is a tale of love and death and a foreshadowing of things to come.
In spite of the stories in which Zoraida is the main character being written in that irritating First Person Present form, the stories are well-written, both grammatically and structurally, and couched in an engaging narrative tone. They are entertaining as well as providing some deep-delving background characterization. The inhabitants of Bear Hollow are realistically endearing, especially in the dialogues between Zoraida and Al, sometimes disbeliever and would-be beau, and her friend Zhu.
This collection is an excellent introduction to the series for new readers; for those already in the know, it’s a chance to see the heroine in the time before the series begins, as well as being the set-up for the stories to come.