The best books featuring “soft” paranormal elements

Who am I?

Besides a passion for vintage fashion, in writing Divine Vintage I was influenced by mixed-genre books wrapping around “soft” paranormal elements. No vampires, demons, or shifters. Just dashes of ghosts, magic, witches, and special abilities entwined with romance, history, and mystery. These books are meant to charm and enchant with a lyrical touch. I’ve listed a few faves below, ranging from bestsellers I read years ago, to a sister 2022 debut, to an author I just discovered and loved. One of the novels even encompasses my vintage fashion muse. My collection fills a small bedroom, and I always deck out in fun garments for my book presentations and signings. 


I wrote...

Divine Vintage

By Sandra L. Young,

Book cover of Divine Vintage

What is my book about?

Tess Burton is always up for an adventure, and she’s risked her inheritance to open Divine Vintage boutique. While modeling an elegant gown from an Edwardian trousseau, her mind is opened to a century-old crime of passion. Visions—seen through the eyes of the murdered bride—dispute local lore claiming the bridegroom committed the crime. 

Trey Dunmore doesn’t share her enthusiasm for mind-blowing visions, yet the appeal to clear his family’s tainted legacy compels him to join her in exploring the past. Aided by the dead woman’s clothing and diary, they discover pursuing love in 1913 was just as thorny as modern day. As the list of murder suspects grows, the couple fears past emotions are influencing, and may ultimately derail, their own blossoming intimacy.

The books I picked & why

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The Peach Keeper

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of The Peach Keeper

Why this book?

Sarah Addison Allen novels enchant readers with lovely prose, multi-layered, engaging characters, and a tone balancing gentle humor against melancholy. In The Peach Keeper, Paxton and Willa are forced to face and overcome their pasts, revealing frailties and strengths as they reluctantly link to solve a decades-old, magic-tinged mystery involving their grandmothers. I loved the unusual mystical quirks in the story, like two dozen snooty women unwillingly shouting out their secrets at a society club meeting. Allen further captures us with heart-rending romance as she builds the allure of the small town, Walls of Water, NC. I’ve been equally compelled by her books The Sugar Queen and Other Birds, a recent release. 


Practical Magic

By Alice Hoffman,

Book cover of Practical Magic

Why this book?

Twenty-five years ago, Alice Hoffman’s vivid novel lured readers to fall in love with the witchy, complicated, Owens family and led to a popular movie. Through the four-part book series, I’ve been spellbound by the deep, compelling characters and their magical abilities as their bonds stretch, fray, and re-align over generations. Hoffman’s prose leans somber, but in a beautiful, wistful way. In Practical Magic, we focus on sisters Gillian and Sally, raised by their eccentric elderly aunts. The sisters cope with their offbeat upbringing in opposite ways: one marries, stays, and faces tragedy; the other runs away. Yet their invisible ties bring them together to combat a looming darkness. Hoffmans a wonderful world-builder, immersing us into a town where the family’s magic is acknowledged, though not always admired. 


Blue Dahlia

By Nora Roberts,

Book cover of Blue Dahlia

Why this book?

One of many of “the queen’s” paranormal/magical series, these novelsBlue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lilyalso date back nearly two decades. I was especially drawn by the historical mystery, featuring the mournful ghost of a woman who’s been haunting a family home for centuries. Roberts skillfully draws the intrigue through the series featuring three strong women tied together by a gardening business. In the first book, Blue Dahlia, we meet determined, successful Roz Harper, who owns the family business, and her new employees. Stella is a young widow and Hayley a single, expectant mother. As their stories weave throughout the trilogy, we’re treated to romances and the linking thread of the spooky, historical mystery. 


Other People's Things

By Kerry Anne King,

Book cover of Other People's Things

Why this book?

I recently finished my first Kerry King novel, and I’ll definitely read more. I adored the flawed, quirky characters, the tentative, heart-fluttering romance between Nicole and Hawk, and her unusual ability. Though she views it as a curse, Nickle, as her family calls her, has overwhelming compulsions to “relocate” items. Not steal and keep. Just move them where they cry out to be. Her actions have landed her in plenty of trouble, especially now that she’s stolen money from her estranged lawyer husband. The test of a good book for me: I look forward to reading it each day, find myself whipping through many more pages than intended, and am compelled to tell my fiancé about it. This novel engaged and delighted me in all those ways. 


Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies

By Misha Popp,

Book cover of Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies

Why this book?

As a recent debut, I wanted to include another wonderful new writer venturing into mixed genres. Misha Popp’s heroine pie-baker even wears flirty vintage dresses as she harnesses her family magic to off abusive men through deadly pies. I rooted for Daisy throughout, partly because she’s an avenger with a conscience, and because she’s always felt she had to maintain distance to hide her secret. How sweet to watch her grudgingly open up to friendship and romance, realizing they add a special spice to life. The well-drawn, diverse, likable characters pursue intriguing plot directions, supported by witty dialogue. And the pie descriptions are downright mouth-watering. No surprise, Popp is a masterful baker in her own right. 


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