Amid growing anti-magic sentiments, outcast witch Rivka must tap into a family curse as she races to unmake a masterless golem. Unraveling the mystery of its origin puts her in the sights of a power-hungry politician, who leads her down a trap-laden path where failure means the destruction of both Rivka and the Jewish Quarter.
Rivka counted to ten. In English, then Hebrew.
Make the customer happy.
Rolling her shoulders like a boxer about to step into the ring, Rivka left the stockroom of Sentinel Peak Books, wooden door swinging shut on boxes of books and kitsch they sold for tourists. She focused on the older woman at the front, and wiped dusty palms on her apron.
“Well, did you find it?” The woman’s voice was a haughty, raspy sniff.
Rivka fixed her best customer service smile on her face. “I’m afraid we’re out of that title, ma’am.”
“You said it was back there.” The brutal summer heat made everyone cranky, but the woman had been smiling right up until she spotted Rivka. Was it the witch or the Jew part? Only one was even mildly socially acceptable, but funnily enough, cute little white-girl witches with stolen sage and crystals never bothered anyone.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” Rivka gritted her teeth to keep from saying anything stupid. Not pissing off the customer was easy enough in theory. Friends swore it was easier for Rivka to please literal monsters, but even dybbukim were more reasonable than customers.
The woman’s wrinkled face twisted, gaze dropping to Rivka’s neck. Some people didn’t like the charms hanging there. The Star of David, the Chai, the hand-shaped silver Hamsa emblazoned with a tiny blue-beaded nazar amulet to ward off the evil eye. One would have been acceptable. All four whispered to their worst fears.