• Secondhand Spirits

  • A Witchcraft Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Juliet Blackwell
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (2,096 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Lily Ivory hopes for a normal life when she opens Aunt Cora's Closet. With her magical knack for vintage fashion - she can sense vibrations of the past from clothing and jewelry - her store becomes a big hit. But when a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area, Lily may be the only one who can unravel the crime.

She tries to keep her identity a secret while investigating, but it's not easy - especially under the spells of sexy "mythbuster" Max Carmichael and powerful witch Aidan Rhodes. Will Lily's witchy ways be forced out of the closet?

©2009 Juliet Blackwell (P)2012 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Lily Ivory is a 21st-century Samantha Stevens, minus the nose wriggling. The story combines fun and seriousness for an entertaining read." ( Romantic Times)

What listeners say about Secondhand Spirits

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • A
  • 10-15-12

Needs a different narrator

A decent story, but the narration is a distraction. Ms. Sands is not without talent, but her style doesn't fit this type of story. She speaks in a throaty almost-whisper that trails off at the end of each sentence, sometimes to the point that I had a hard time understanding the last word. Her accent sounds genuine and she doesn't overdramatize (an annoying habit of some narrators), but the low, gravelly softness of her voice made it sound like she was going for some sort of languid, ultra-sexy sound even when there was nothing languid or sexy about what was happening in the book. The end result is that the book had a heavier feel that I was looking for and that the reviews I read by people who had read the print version indicated. Granted, there are some heavy themes in the book, but even Oscar's antics seemed almost depressing when described by this narrator. It did get slightly better as the book progressed, but overall I found the voice so distracting that I sometimes lost track of the story.

Otherwise, it was a good story, and the descriptions of vintage clothing, witchcraft, and San Francisco were excellent. I would like to continue the series, but I might switch to the print version.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Witches and fashion - what's not to like!

I just discovered these types of cozy, paranormal mysteries, and I have to say I am ready for more. Secondhand Spirits is light and breezy fun with a bit of darkness for some edge. For me witches can always add to the recipe for a good time; throw in some vintage fashion, a cool San Francisco Haight-Ashbury setting, a haunted house, a gargoyle that can morph into a pot-belly pig, herbs, spells, and demons and ... what more can you want. And there are NO vampires, a huge plus as far as I'm concerned! The characters were all likeable as well, especially the magic-wary Lily who can no longer deny her powers when she discovers children have been going missing in the City (what can be a touchy subject is handled in a sensitive manner). This is certainly not rocket science I know, but it IS terribly fun brain candy which we all need at least from time to time (me more than most probably)! As of this writing Audible has no other books from this series, so I hope more are on their way.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting storyline, needs a better narrator

I agree with past reviews that this story started out very slowly. A bit too much descriptive writing about the scenery and not enough about the characters, but it does pick up midway through the book. The narrator was very hard to get used to. She has a very wispy voice and every sentence just trails off..... Once the story started to pick up I was able to get past the voice, but I am not sure if I will go to the next book in the series if it is the same reader.

27 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Reader doesn't read, she whispers

This was one of the most annoying readers I've ever heard. I didn't even finish the book. She whispered for every character. Why? I couldn't tell if she was sleepy, or bored. She just whispered through the whole thing. I don't know if the book is really any good. She didn't speak up enough to engage my interest. I think ANYBODY could have done a better job. And I mean that literally.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Now on my cozy mystery list!

Read/Listened for Fun (Audible/Paperback)
Tracking Books Read Review (Short)
Overall Rating: 4.00
Story Rating: 4.00
Character Rating: 4.00

Audio Rating: 4.50 (not part of the overall rating)

First Thought when Finished: Secondhand Spirits made me want to hop in a plane and visit San Francisco!

Overall Thoughts:I have had this book for a very long time and can't believe I just got around to it! Secondhand Spirits was a bit of a darker cozy mystery but still had all the elements I love: good case, interesting characters, and the paranormal element was just part of how she figured out the case. I liked Lily from the get-go and feel like I will like her more as the series progresses. Overall this was just a fun listen that helped me get through laying tile! Gotta love books that will distract while doing that!

Audio Thoughts:

Narrated By Xe Sands / Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins


I love Xe! She hasn't let me down yet and this was no exception. I will admit that I am listening to two Juliet Blackwell series at the same time and both are narrated by Xe. I haven't gotten confused once about which book I am listening too because Xe does little things to make the characters sound different. She is one of the narrators I can count on to make a good book stand out through narration.

Final Thoughts: This is now on my cozy mystery list!

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Witches and Warlocks

This is the first book i have read in this series. it was great. The book was well written and the characters were great. I loved the familiar, Oscar. I look forward to reading the next one. Lily, a witch that owns a vintage store. Meets a warlock that brings her a familiar. She and a friend go to this older ladies house to look to buy some vintage items. This is when all the craziness begins, Murder mystery, missing child. Listen/read to find out what happens

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Average story. Difficult narrator.

The story was fine. Nothing new or exciting. Just average. The narrator is clearly talented in some respects but made this weird choice to use a breathy weird voice for the main character. Some of other character voices are less annoying. The other reviews that speak of the narrator have it spot on. I had to turn it off and take a break more than once because it was unbearable. I hate to say it but I will need to really want to hear a book badly before I will again purchase anything read by Xe Sands.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Witch in San Fransisco

Where does Secondhand Spirits rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Secondhand Spirits offers the reader a story with a touch of realism and the paranormal. I would say it maybe one of my current top 20 books of fantasy and mystery.

What other book might you compare Secondhand Spirits to and why?

This story is as interesting as a Mercy Thomson or Rachel Morgan book. Each with a different spin on the supernatural, and each with a smart brave antagonist. Looking forward to reading more of Lily Ivory's story.

Which character – as performed by Xe Sands – was your favorite?

The gremlin, her familiar, Oscar. This character was performed well and you enjoyed Xe's take on the different funny character.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Discover magical San Francisco.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I want the rest of the series NOW!

I really enjoyed this paranormal cozy mystery. Lily is a witch who owns a secondhand store and hopes she can just live a normal life without using witchcraft, but things don’t quite work out for her. While buying a collection of clothes from an elderly lady a child goes missing and Lily feels like Mrs. Potts’ life is in danger and her premonition is right on the money and the next day she is found dead. Lily tries to find out what happened to the little girl and Mrs. Potts.

There is also a mythbuster, a male witch, a ghostly spirit and a goblin that turns into a pig familiar who are all interesting characters in their own right with the pig being my favorite! San Francisco and the area of the Haight were kind of a character too, you really get a feel of the bay area and I felt like a tourist discovering it all.

This was the best of two genre’s I enjoy, paranormal and cozy mysteries, it was a great first book in the series and will definitely be a series I continue reading, however I so enjoyed the narration by, Xe Sands that I want to wait till I can listen to the rest on audio so I hope Tantor Audio will get them all recorded soon!

If you enjoy a good cozy with magical elements I highly recommend this series!

The audio production of this was great Xe Sands does such a wonderful job and she is well on her way to becoming a favorite narrator!

4 Stars

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I laugh that the 80's is now vintage.

This was a good book. I wouldn't say fun per say, but defiantly left you with a good feeling. The characters were just good people who made you want to cheer for the underdogs. I love going to yard sales, secondhand stores, estates sales and now that it is spring this book only intensified my need to find the perfect bargain. Plus I love reading stories from San Francisco, it is such a colorful place. There is a slight male interest that I believe will be interesting to follow in the remaining series, no sex. Narrator was slow and raspy, this was distracting and I felt she made the book darker than the author intended. I will be continuing on with the next book and see how it fairs.

4 people found this helpful

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