If I Die Before I Wake by Liz McMullenWitches, spirits and friends

The world of paranormal novels is usually populated by shape-shifters and vampires add to that an occasional fae. So it is quite welcome to see another lesbian novel focused on witches and spirits after Lesley Davis’ Calluna series, Joanna MacOwl’s Fern Witches and the recent addition to this niche of paranormal writing, Yvonne Heidt’s Sisters of spirits.

If I Die Before I Wake revolves around Charlotte Dempsey. Charlie as she prefers to be called has recently lost her beloved grandmother. Much to the chagrin of her evil twin, she is the one to inherit the family heirloom, a necklace with the tree of life which has once upon a time travelled from Ireland to the New World.

And soon her comfortable life as an elementary teacher is haunted by a dark spirit and additionally, she meets a mysterious spirit child.

What to do when you never realized your own powers? Enter her bevy of friends, Rachel, her former lover, Valkyrie, Rachel’s wife, and a powerful witch and her business partner and fellow witch, Faith. A at times powerful fight starts with one rather grizzly scene and sweet Faith turns out to be much more than a friend and more than just an ally. Enough!

Charlie and her friends are not larger than life heroines, but women you might meet every day. They are likeable and stand together when Charlie is in need of help even when it turns out to be dangerous.

The story abounds with many unexpected twists and turns, but it takes quite a long time to culminate. One would have liked a deeper glimpse into the mysterious powers of the necklace or an exploration of the emerging powers of Charlie.

This is a debut novel for those who like modern-day stories with witches, spirits – good and evil – a touch of Irish tales and a good measure of friends banding together to ward off evil.