by Cynthia Chow
& Heather Blake
This week we have a review of Heather Blake’s new Wishcraft Mystery The Goodbye Witch. We also have a fun guest post from Heather about creating magical worlds. At the end of the post are details on how to win a copy of The Goodbye Witch, and there is also a link to purchase the book from Amazon-a portion of which goes to help support KRL.
The Goodbye Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery By Heather Blake
Review by Cynthia Chow
“Remember, friends help you move. Good friends help you move a body. Best friends bring their own shovel.” I.D. Locke
When Starla Sullivan asks her best friend if she thinks Starla could get away with murder, Darcy Merriweather’s first response is to ask, “Why? Who do we need to kill?” Darcy is THAT loyal of a friend that she would immediately offer to help, even if her wish-crafting abilities prevent Darcy from granting her own wishes. It seems that Starla has spotted her ex-husband Kyle Chadwick in town, and considering that he is an escaped fugitive for assault charges from his attempted strangulation of Starla two years ago, she is in a state of panic. Even hysteria though, can’t quite explain why no one else seems to have spotted Kyle or why the pictures Starla took as proof all turn out blank.
Kyle’s presence is pretty much undeniable, though, when his body turns up in Starla’s home and his family points fingers of suspicion in her direction. Having lost her mother and been raised by a father who denied their magical gifts, Darcy has embraced the Enchanted Villagers as her new family and nothing will keep her from protecting Starla or anyone else she loves. Darcy’s boyfriend Police Chief Nick Sawyer does complicate matters by assigning her nemesis Glinda Hansel to the case, especially since the woman seems to be bonding with Nick’s daughter and teaching her own form of magic. Luckily, Darcy is aided by magical Crafters, Wish-granting Wish Crafters, an assortment of witches, and a talking mouse, who all eagerly volunteer to help her discover why Kyle Chadwick seemed to have so suddenly transformed from being Prince Charming into a menacing ogre.
Despite this being the fourth in the Wishcraft Mystery series, the author quickly and clearly sets out the mythology and basic rules of magic for new readers without being tedious for loyal fans. Magic is used sparingly, and always with consequences. The author of the Magic Potion mystery series, as well as the author of numerous mysteries under the name Heather Webber, Blake continues to craft her characters with extensive histories and very believable progressions and growth. The theme of family resonates throughout this series and especially in this novel, and it provides a very grounded sense of realness to the paranormal books. Sentimental, but never saccharin, this often harrowing mystery entertains with beloved characters, a deeply moving plot, and an undeniably satisfying conclusion.
The Mystery of Magical Worlds
By Heather Blake
Creating magical worlds isn’t as easy as you might think.
I knew when I started writing the Wishcraft mysteries that I was going to have to tackle world-building. Not only because the setting, the touristy Enchanted Village, is a completely fictional neighborhood (located in the very real Salem, MA), but because I created an entirely new type of witchcraft for this series (the Craft) that needed explaining. It needed characters (magical and mortal). It needed rules and laws. It needed history. Yet it also needed to feel natural, as though this magical place could really exist. And not only exist, but that it’s a place where readers would want to live.
At first, it was a free-for-all. The floodgate of my imagination had been opened, and I was giddy with developing this wonderful little village. A village where witches secretly live among mortals. Witches who practiced their crafts under the guise of commercialism. My main character, Darcy Merriweather, is a Wishcrafter–she can grant wishes as she works at her aunt’s personal concierge business, As You Wish. Curecrafters are doctors and naturopaths; Cloakcrafters are tailors and seamstresses; Illumicrafters can actually light up. The list is endless. The shops, like the Bewitching Boutique, the Gingerbread Shop, and the Charmory, were incredibly fun to name, too.
There are times when world-building is incredibly surprising. Like the time, while in the middle of writing It Takes a Witch (the first book in the Wishcraft series), that a talking mouse appeared out of the blue. I had to stop, take a breath, and ask myself if I could do that. Could I have a talking mouse in my story? I debated with myself for a good long while. This wasn’t my first “paranormal” book, as I’d written a psychic series before this one (the Lucy Valentine novels as Heather Webber), but talking animals really put the para in the normal.
Did I want to make that leap? When I thought about deleting the scene, I couldn’t do it. The mouse was a pivotal character, and he needed to stay. That’s when I added familiars to my little world. That mouse, Pepe, was quickly joined by Archie, a scarlet Macaw familiar, and another familiar who I won’t reveal in case you haven’t read the series… They’ve become beloved characters, so I think the decision was a good one.
There are also times that world-building is incredibly frustrating. The magical rules sometimes trip me up. For instance, in The Goodbye Witch, my latest release, there’s a crucial scene where one of the characters, Starla (a Wishcrafter), is viewed on video. In a normal world, this makes perfect sense. But in my magical world, Wishcrafters cannot be seen on film or video. This scene made it all the way through copy edits before I realized the mistake. Panic time. The scene was so essential to the storyline that I knew I had to keep it. But how? How to get around this rule?
I can’t tell you how many days (a lot!) I stressed over a solution. When I finally came up with one, I again asked myself, Can I do that? The answer was yes. Yes, I can.
The beauty of world-building is that as the creator, I can change the world. Not drastically, of course, but in little ways. I actually plan to build on the solution I came up with for the video issue in future books, so what initially presented as a problem opened new creative doors for me.
While not always easy, world-building has definitely proven rewarding. To see the way readers have wholeheartedly embraced this world I’ve created–where the only limit is my imagination–is humbling, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
To enter to win a copy of The Goodbye Witch, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Goodbye,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 31, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.