Recipes are all very fine and well if what you want is predictability, but since Gary Hallett has come to live on Maria's Island, Fran and Jet Owens are finding that the book which they and the generations before them have constructed is no longer spending quite so much time off the shelf. The islanders still come to them, as they always have, but the spells they want are different now. It's one thing to risk money on dark magic you don't quite believe in, another entirely when you're certain that you do.
But Sally has never really needed recipes, and Gillian seldom can be bothered with precision when flair seems sufficient, and between them they have made the beginnings of a new book, one which Kylie has written out in large, round letters and Antonia has decorated with sample leaves and colored pencil patterns. This page describes how to keep the ground warm enough to keep a garden going two weeks past the first frost, and that one makes a balm for scraped knees.
The tourists never know why they can hear the ferry bell from clear across the village, always just in time to remind them that they must return to the mainland; no more than they realize just why the sheets at the hotel seem scented with happy memories and never set off allergies. Some of them remember the policeman with one green eye and one blue who had occasion to pull out his own well-thumbed copy of the island Guide, but he has less need of it now, and can rattle off the local legends without having to consult any aide-de-memoire.
Turns out, he has some magic of his own, or so Aunt Fran says, and Aunt Jet sometimes concedes. It is the kind of quiet magic one notices over pancakes and cocoa, especially on the winter nights when the mainland is a week and a half away, and the island is quiet and waiting for spring. But magic it must be. How else can you explain the cot in the corner of the kitchen, where the first Owens boy in two hundred years is dreaming of a sky full of stars?