A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses - By Molly Harper

Acknowledgments

Thank you, as always, to the people who always support me through my ridiculously self-complicated writing process. Thank you to the readers who love the characters of Half-Moon Hollow as much as I do. To my husband and kids, for putting up with unfolded laundry and Mommy’s talking to imaginary people. To my agent, Stephany, who is always patient. And to my editor, Abby, who is to blame for the possum-related content of this book.

1

If you are fortunate enough to receive a message from the other side, pay attention to it.

—A Witch’s Compendium of Curses

My week started with spectral portents of doom floating over my bed while I was trying to have anniversary sex with my boyfriend. It was all downhill from there.

Stephen had not been pleased when I’d pushed him off of me, rolled out of bed, and yelled, “That’s it! I’m going!” at the image of a half-moon burning against my ceiling. I mean, I guess there are limits to what men are willing to put up with, and one’s girlfriend interacting with invisible omens is a bit out of a perfectly nice investment broker’s scope. He seemed to think I was huffing off after taking offense to that counterclockwise tickle he’d improvised near the end.

Of course, telling him about the increasingly forceful hints I’d received from my noncorporeal grandmother for the last two weeks would have made the situation worse. Stephen tended to clam up when we discussed my family and our “nonsense.” He refused to discuss Nana Fee or the promise I’d made to her that I’d travel all the way from our tiny village to the wilds of America. So I’d tried ignoring the dreams, the omens, the way my alphabet soup spelled out “HlfMunHollw.”

I tried to rationalize that a deathbed promise to a woman who called herself a witch wasn’t exactly a binding contract. But my grandma interrupting the big O to make her point was the final straw.

And so I was moving to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, indefinitely, so I could locate four magical objects that would prevent a giant witch-clan war and maintain peace in my little corner of northwestern Ireland.

Yes, I was aware that statement sounded absolutely ridiculous.

Sometimes it paid to have a large, tech-savvy family at your disposal. When you tell them, “I have a few days to rearrange my life so I can fly halfway across the world and secure the family’s magical potency for the next generation,” they hop to do whatever it takes to smooth the way. Aunt Penny had not only booked my airline tickets but also located and rented a house for me. Uncle Seamus had arranged quick shipping of the supplies and equipment I would need to my new address. And my beloved, and somewhat terrifying, teenage cousin Ralph may have broken a few international laws while online “arranging” a temporary work visa so I wouldn’t starve while I was there. Not everybody in our family could work magic, but each had his or her own particular brand of hocus-pocus.

Although my mother was an only child, my nana was one of nine. So I had great-aunts and uncles coming out of my ears, and their children were the right age to serve as proper aunts and uncles. I had more third and fourth cousins than I could count. Literally—I tried once at Christmas, got dizzy, and had to sit down. They never treated me as if there were any sort of line dividing me from the rest of the McGavocks. So when my mother walked out and I was shipped off to my nana, it was as if the whole town was one very large, very loud family. When Aunt Penny permed my hair, to disastrous results, it was my schoolteacher who undid the damage in her kitchen sink. When my uncles were too traumatized by incidents that shall remain undisclosed to let me get behind the wheel of a car again, it was the postman, Tom Warren, who taught me to drive. They gave me a home I could depend on for the first time in my life. They gave me a family. They gave me back chunks of my childhood I’d missed until then. I would do whatever it took to make sure they were healthy and protected.

Given how Stephen felt about my family, I’d decided it was more prudent to tell him I’d accepted an offer for a special nursing fellowship in Boston. The spot came open when another nurse left the program

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