I'd like to thank Roxanne @ Bewitching Book Tours for giving me this opportunity to participate in the THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL Blog Tour. There is a GIVEAWAY at the end of the post. Be sure to thank Olivia!
THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL
by Olivia Boler
Journalist Memphis Zhang isn’t ashamed of her Wiccan upbringing—in fact, she’s proud to be one of a few Chinese American witches in San Francisco, and maybe the world. Unlike the well-meaning but basically powerless Wiccans in her disbanded coven, Memphis can see fairies, read auras, and cast spells that actually work—even though she concocts them with ingredients like Nutella and antiperspirant. Yet after a friend she tries to protect is brutally killed, Memphis, full of guilt, abandons magick to lead a “normal” life.
The appearance, however, of her dead friend’s attractive rock star brother—as well as a fairy in a subway tunnel—suggest that magick is not done with her. Reluctantly, Memphis finds herself dragged back into the world of urban magick, trying to stop a power-hungry witch from using the dangerous Flower Bowl Spell and killing the people Memphis loves—and maybe even Memphis herself.
Praise for THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL:
"Olivia Boler's The Flower Bowl Spell is a genre-bending ride with sexy rock stars, Californian witches, children with potentially otherworldly gifts, and the occasional fairy. But it is also a story of identity, of the sometimes warring facets that make and shape a human being. Beautifully written, witty, and brimming with both ordinary and fantastical life, The Flower Bowl Spell will charm readers everywhere." -- Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
About this Author:
Olivia Boler is the author of two novels, YEAR OF THE SMOKE GIRL and THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL. Poet Gary Snyder described SMOKE GIRL as a "dense weave in the cross-cultural multi-racial world of complex, educated hip contemporary coast-to-coast America...It is a fine first novel, rich in paradox and detail."
A freelance writer who received her master's degree in creative writing from UC Davis, Boler has published short stories in the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) anthology Cheers to Muses, the literary journal MARY, and The Lyon Review, among others. She lives in San Francisco with her family. To find out about her latest work, visit http://oliviaboler.com
The first time the veil lifted I was eight and very bored.
When I was a kid, my parents often left me in the care of Auntie Tess. Since she was a practicing Wiccan of the hippy-dippy variety, the kind that gives San Francisco its reputation for benign lunacy, they knew I’d be safe. I don’t remember a time when we weren’t together in someone’s backyard or a public space celebrating Sabbats major and minor. For these ladies—and sometimes gents—practicing magick was like prayer. Or wishful thinking. They’d do their rituals, but nothing supernatural actually ever happened—except, on occasion, the green light from the candles, which not everyone could actually see. They didn’t seem to expect real magick. They just liked to come together. Like a book club.
On the night in question, we’d gone to Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow. In the daytime, it was the domain of dogs, acrobats, guitarists, and Frisbee freaks. I liked to visit the horses in the nearby stables or watch the model-boaters cutting loose on Spreckels Lake.
But after the sun went down, the meadow was a favorite ritual site for Wiccans and pagans. It’s resplendent with tiny daisy-chain daisies. The other coven kids and I would collect them, their petals tightly closed for the night, while our mothers and caretakers prepped for the forthcoming hocus-pocus.
The priestesses would get there before everyone else to set up, lighting candles, arranging the talismans, laying out white ropes in a near perfect circle. They were dressed in their robes, mostly handmade get-ups of maroon velvet or navy blue velour. When everything was just so, they called the kids over. As the laughter and murmuring died down, we all joined hands and, without preamble, began to sway and hum. The women closed their eyes. In unison, they sang a song that was some variation of this:
Through all the world below
She is seen all around
Search hills and valley through
There she is found
The growing of the corn
The lily and the thorn
The pleasant and forlorn
She is there
In meadow dressed in green
She is seen.
La la la. Hills and valleys we have in San Francisco, but growing corn? A few public garden plots here and there, I’m sure, but even as a child I knew fantasy from reality. We were urban witches longing for a landscape that belonged to Wine Country fifty miles away. Or to a time three hundred years past.
On and on they sang, in harmony buffered by the fog. That night was extra-special—in the center of the circle next to the usual beeswax candles, someone had placed skeleton dolls dressed in bright clothing.
Auntie Tess was the smallest woman there (easy to pick out in the crowd if you set your gaze lower than usual) and the only Asian face among the others (not including yours truly), which were predominantly white. There was a black woman from Cuba too, but that’s as far as our coven’s diversity diversified.
As I mentioned, I was bored. Bored with making daisy chains, bored with the other coven kids, bored with Tess. I leaned against her, her dark silk kimono slippery and cool under my cheek. She had sewn it shut so that she could slide it over her head.
“Auntie Tess,” I whispered.
“Shhh.” She opened one eye, which glinted down at me.
“I want to be Dorothy for Halloween.” Wizard of Oz Dorothy, of course. “When are we getting my costume?”
“Tomorrow, Memphis, I promise. Now sing or be quiet.”
I watched the other women. Some smiled through their song, earnest and blissed-out. Some undulated. Others mouthed the words, but not Tess. With my ear pressed to her side, I could feel her strong voice, her heartbeat, the gurgling of her supper digesting. I pressed harder until she stumbled a little, and got a frown for my hug.
In the center of the circle, the candles in their hurricane lanterns and jelly jars burned, illuminating a bouquet of flowers. The shadows flowed over the dolls, which made it seem like they were dancing and grinning. I blinked and peered closer and realized that they actually were dancing, all on their own. One tossed off his sombrero and led the others in a Mexican hat dance. Faintly, I could make out their voices, a discordant cheering through the women’s singing. You might expect them to sound like cartoon chipmunks, but their voices, though faint, sounded quite robust.
As they cha-cha’ed by, they saluted me. And I saluted back. I tugged on Tess’s brocade sleeve.
The thing is, I realized in the instant she turned to look down at me that it was hopeless. Her face was full of annoyance, and there was an absence of something I couldn’t name at the time, but I thought of it as a light. She was missing the light that makes magick visible.
a Rafflecopter giveaway