Crooked Lane Books, 2020
Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal; 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley for an honest review.
Risk assessor Alexandra Daniels is down on her luck, having just lost her job. She decides to accept her estranged aunt's invitation to visit and help them with their business, an herbal apothecary, in Bellamy Bay. It has been years since Alex last set foot in the seaside town, her father having cut ties with that side of the family after Alex's mother's death. Alex is not prepared for what she finds in Bellamy Bay. Secrets and rumors of mermaids and vikings, witches and land disputes. When her aunt is arrested for the murder, Alex is sure she is being framed and wants to know why--and who is behind it.
I cannot resist a paranormal cozy mystery and A Spell for Trouble was just what I needed when I picked it up to read. It was full of magic and an intriguing backstory about water witches, family secrets, and ancient rivalries. Alex has no memory of her early childhood and gift for water magic. She does not want to believe it at first, and is not sure what to do with it once she realizes it is real. Alex has a perfect mix of skepticism and wonderment at her new found abilities. I really liked Alex's character, although there were a couple of moments in the novel I found myself wanting to shake some sense into her for putting herself in harm's way, but I never stopped rooting for her. The secondary characters are just as well-developed in their own right, and I really enjoyed my time in Bellamy Bay. Alexi's faithful dog is pretty awesome too.
I enjoyed the overall mystery of the novel with its twists and turns. While I guessed early one who was likely behind it all, it was still a delightful reading experience. There's a bit of romance and plenty of magic. I look forward to seeing what happens next in Bellamy Bay.
Witch Hunt by Cate Conte
Kensington Books, 2020
Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal; 304 pgs
Source: NetGalley for an honest review
Violet Mooney, owner of The Full Moon crystal shop, has recently lost her grandmother unexpectedly, and throws herself more deeply into her work to cope. A local councilwoman seems to be out to get quite a few people in town, including Violet. When the councilwoman turns up dead after a heated and very public argument with Violet, Violet is the prime suspect for the murder. As if that isn't enough of a predicament to be in, Violet's long absent mother and a sister she never knew she had show up claiming that not only are they witches, but so is Violet. This can't be real, can it?
I love cozy cats, and this book as two! Violet is well-established and has a lot going for her. She has a lot of mixed feelings about her mother showing up after abandoning her all those years ago--and wants nothing to do with her. But her mother won't go away. Her mother, Fiona, can be a bit overbearing at times, but she means well. I adored Violet's half-sister, Zoe. She and Violet hit it off pretty well. Between the mystery of the murder of the councilwoman and the mystery surrounding Violet's past, Witch Hunt had me from the first page to the last. I found both story lines intriguing and could not wait to see how everything came together in the end. There were certainly several unexpected twists in this one! I always find it interesting to see the different ways magic manifests in cozy mysteries like this, and this one did not disappoint. I look forward to reading more by Conte in the future.
My aunt lay dead and I was lost in her life. ~ Opening of In My Attic
In My Attic (A Magical Misfits Mystery. #1) by Lina Hansen
Literary Wanderlust, 2020
Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal; 182 pgs
Source: NetGalley for an honest review
Myrtle had wanted nothing more than to leave Avebury behind. But when her aunt turns up dead, possibly murdered, she has no choice but to return to the Witch's Retreat, a bed and breakfast owned and run by her aunt. Taking a leave of absence from her job as a teacher, she finds herself in over her head taking care of the bed and breakfast while at the same time looking into her aunt's death. Secrets, magical relics, rumors of witches and witch hunters, and strange happenings she cannot explain are among what Mrytle must take on.
The paranormal elements are subtly introduced in Lina Hansen's novel as obviously our heroine, Myrtle, is a non-believer. I loved the humor throughout the novel from the analogies, Harry Potter references, play on names to the farting cat. Myrtle is such a great narrator, and I enjoyed every minute of this mystery. The whodunit was easy to guess, but the how was a lot more difficult to figure out. There is a cast of quirky characters, who really help make this novel what it is. And while not what I would call a fast-paced novel, I did enjoy my time in Avebury at the Witch's Retreat. I found the world building to be extremely interesting as Myrtle uncovered the history of witches in the area and look forward to exploring it further with her in future books (which I hope there will be many of!).
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