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Revenge of the Spellmans - Review

I've read the Spellman trilogy, by Liza Lutz, in just over four months. This is surprising given my relative dissatisfaction with the first book. The chief crime of THE SPELLMAN FILES was trying too hard. The Edgar® nominated CURSE OF THE SPELLMANS was a pleasant surprise to me as a I felt the first 100 pages were more of the same. However, that book settled into an easy rhythm as the Ms. Lutz found a groove for her story and its multiple inhabitants.

So where does this leave REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS? Third time is the charm I think. Probably not as enjoyable as CURSE OF THE SPELLMANS, but easily the book with the fewest problems. In REVENGE Ms. Lutz has finally focused her view to just one character, Isabel Spellman. Gone from the book are the tangents that led me away from Isabel and the 'main' story to highlight some ridiculous foible of any one of the dozen screwball characters Ms. Lutz was writing about. Here the writing feels more organic. REVENGE succeeds because of the invisibility of its writer. Most everything here is in service to the story, rarely did I feel Ms. Lutz's hand pushing me.

This time around Isabel has a lot on her plate. Will she take over the family business? Will she find a place to sleep other than the bus? Will she figure out what is going on with her straitlaced brother? Will she survive her court mandated therapy sessions? Will she solve here one and only case? What I think REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS is really about is that last moment of youth where we finally accept responsibility for our life. Isabel will discovery that being an adult not only means being over 30, but confronting and accepting, happily one might say, the difficult decisions in our life. The message of REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS is actually quite empowering.

Too lazy to read these books? Then your wishes have been answered! THE SPELLMAN FILES is in line for a film adaptation to be directed by the occasionally talented and serial hypochondriac Barry Sonnenfeld.


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