by Kathleen Costa
This week we have some more fun paranormal mysteries, these are by author Zoe Arden, and we have an interesting interview with Zoe. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an EBOOK copy of the first book in this series, Witch Cake Murders. We also have links to order the books from Amazon.
It’s Deliciously Magic! Sweetland Witch series by Zoe Arden
Review by Kathleen Costa
Welcome to Heavenly Haven, an island known for its year-round summers courtesy of the Witch’s Council. Yes, I said the Witch’s Council. The island is a haven for a large community of witches, warlocks and other magical creatures…good and bad. Generally, the humans who reside on or visit the island have no knowledge of this magical community. They just think it is a great place…until, of course, magic, mayhem and murder are added to the itinerary.
I highly recommend Zoe Arden and her magically delicious series. but beware, they are not your typical standalone…the mayhem changes. There are spoilers and connections weaving through and building on events and motives. Established fans, like myself, enjoy the way the stories link together. However, I strongly suggest newbies start with the short story “Cake Spell Disaster: Haven Witch Mystery,” then read the first book in the Sweetland Witch series Witch Cake Murders, and finish with The Witching Flavor. This way any revelations will not spoil your enjoyment. You wouldn’t start with the dessert course first, would you? OK, bad example, but I firmly believe starting from the beginning will only serve to make your experience delightfully complete!
Zoe Arden has created an engaging magical mystery spanning three stories weaving dark magic, family secrets, a 1200-year old legend of love and heartache and a young woman finally taking her place in the community. In the short story, “Cake Spell Disaster,” we get acquainted with this magical island and its mysterious legend along with residents of Mistmoor Point and Sweetland Cove. Then Zoe paints more elaborate and absorbing mysteries in Witch Cake Murders and The Witching Flavor that treats magic in a delightfully delicious way. The magic, the witches, goblins, vampires and the talking animal familiars all work well…no juvenile hocus-pocus, here!
The lead, Ava Rose Fortune is a strong woman, thanks to her father, who is desperately trying to uncover the truth in her family’s secrets, again thanks to her father. However, she maintains her strength and determination and loyalty to family and her new friends. She is also humbled, if not embarrassed, by what she doesn’t know about this community…”Leprechauns?” We are treated to a wonderful magical community filled with some endearing and some fiendish characters which spark a discussion of human/witch conflicts and the class struggle and discrimination against various creatures. One could argue that the conflicts among characters could be a unique way of addressing issues we see in our own reality.
I am hooked on this enchanting journey. And with the cliffhanger at the end of The Witching Flavor…this is a series you can’t put down!
For me, the series adventure really starts here…
Short Story “Cake Spell Disaster” earns 5/5 Peppermint Pistachio Joy Cupcakes!
Felicity Redfern and her mother, Amelia, had prepared the most delicious magical desserts for Mayor Singer and his wife’s anniversary. However, scowling Edith Woodruff, Amelia’s former bakery partner and now bakery competitor, and subsequently the mayor and several guests becoming gravely ill doesn’t seem good for business. Felicity’s mother goes missing and one person is dead, so Felicity, Sheriff Lincoln Maxwell, and Sunny, her mother’s white cat familiar, work together to shed light on many interesting items…dark elements, secret romances, and old grudges.
Welcome to Sweetland Cove…
Book 1 Witch Cake Murders earns 5/5 Chocolate Love Potion Cakes!
“Eli rushes in the house frantically packing. He has to leave the island quickly. He has done the unthinkable according to the Council and no matter his motives, it will still look like revenge. He picks up Ava, the little baby, and leaves. She’ll be safe now.”
Twenty years later…
We open in New York City and Ava Stone is turning twenty-one, enjoying her happy birthday revelers, but it seems to include well wishes from two oddly dressed women. Strangers? Maybe, but they know her. Ava discovers she has two aunts, they are witches and more shockingly, so is she! Her father kept this all secret and against his demands, she joins her aunts and heads off to Heavenly Haven. There, discovering she was born Ava Rose Fortune, she learns about her mother and her mother’s death, becomes an apprentice at The Mystic Cupcake, makes friends and feels her heart flutter over a couple of local cuties. She loses her wand, experiences blackouts, becomes the main suspect in a series of murders and is dubbed the Bakery Reaper. Yeah, maybe she should have stayed in New York City like her father demanded.
Book 2 The Witching Flavor earns 5+/5 Peanut Butter Dream Bars!
After a dangerous summer, life has settled down and Ava Fortune continues to get used to the reality that she is a witch. She is also very excited about attending the Pixie Punk dance with Damon, even though the revelations about her mother’s murder and his being human caused their relationship to start off a bit rocky. Everyone is eager to learn who would be selected as Miss Snow Queen…“drum roll and then…Miss Lucy Lockwood!” Lucy, Ava’s BFF and a witch herself, is so excited, but just as she is about to give her acceptance speech, the lights go out. There’s a flicker, but when the lights come back on, everyone gasps. Lucy is no where to be found. In the search for her BFF and hounded by disturbing nightmares, Ava uncovers hexes, ghosts, goblins, and so much about being a witch that she still has yet to learn.
ALERT! Book 3 A Drop of Witch will be released on June 21!
Old grudges are back…Ava’s life, her soul, is in grave jeopardy! How much collateral damage will occur? How many innocent bystanders will be caught in the line of fire? Ava will need to hone her magical skills and rely on friends and family to stop what might be unstoppable!
Welcome to our guest…Zoe Arden! Author of the Sweetland Witch Series:
KRL: It is great to have with us Zoe Arden, author of the Sweetland Witch Series, celebrating the recent release of book 2, The Witching Flavor. What motivated you to become a writer?
Zoe: I would say that I’ve always been a lover of mystery stories since I was young. It’s just that I prefer a story where it can be written in a quirky manner, less of the violence and gore. Hence cozy mystery genre.
KRL: Can you tell us a little about this series? Is there a reason you chose to write in the cozy mystery genre?
Zoe: The series centers around a faraway island called Heavenly Haven which is made up of two towns opposite each other, Sweetland Cove and Mistmoor Point. The series focuses mainly on Sweetland Cove which is the main universe/world. Sweetland Cove is a town of bakers, tourists, and witches. Situated on the beautiful island of Heavenly Haven, it is indeed a haven for tourists and paranormals alike. The humans who live there aren’t supposed to know witches exist…but it’s hard to keep secrets in Sweetland Cove.
When Ava Fortune moves in with her aunts, Eleanor and Trixie, things in Sweetland Cove start getting strange. Crime and mystery seem to follow Ava wherever she goes. Murder and kidnapping are just the beginning. Ava can’t solve all these crimes alone, though, after all, she’s not a detective, she’s a baker and to be exact an amateur witch. The quirky characters she meets along the way all have their part to play in helping her, especially her familiar, a fuzzy cat … and sometimes hindering her. Vampires, trolls, witches, humans… Who can Ava trust?
When she’s not solving crimes, Ava is baking cookies and cupcakes. A professional mood extractor, she has the double duty of making sure her customers stay happy as well as keeping the pastries tasting good. Sometimes, it’s not Sweetland’s residents who are the problem. It’s their rival town, Mistmoor Point. The only two towns on Heavenly Haven, they have a tendency to disagree. Sometimes with disastrous consequences.
What’s the next crime coming Ava’s way… and how much danger will she be in this time? This question will always be the focus for each book in the series. Each book will focus on a crime usually resulting in someone dead, and there will be lots of twists and turns with Ava going around solving the mystery. The entire series is interconnected book after book.
KRL: I love having a little magic or marvelous creatures in my cozy stories. Are you a fan of the paranormal?
KRL: Are any of your characters based on real people…friends or family? Names changed to protect the innocent, so to speak. My favorite character is Aunt Trixie and her quirky personality. Are you like Ava Fortune in some way?
Zoe: Nope, these are fictional characters, but inspired by my fantastical imagination. Frankly, many of the characteristics of Ava Fortune are a reflection of someone dear to me, my own mum: someone strong, independent, and a protector of friends.
KRL: How did you go about getting published? Did you try self-publishing or a publishing house?
Zoe: I used self-publishing which is a much simpler process compared to via publishing house. Also, doing self-publishing allows me more control of my own business, and it exposes me to the various traits and skills I need to learn and know.
KRL: Writing is often a very personalized activity. How do you go about writing? What is your process? Do you have a writing team or editors that are part of the process?
Zoe: I draw inspiration from the environment, from the movies I watch, from the little daily happenings that surround me. I always carry my digital journal where I will jot down my ideas whenever I get inspired. It starts with an inspired idea and from there, the plot is slowly being formulated, and I start to string my thoughts into words. I do have a small team of writers and editors.
KRL: Did you receive any sage advice that you might share with aspiring or beginning writers?
Zoe: Stay calm and keep writing!
KRL: We know you write, but what do you read? Is there another author who inspires you or one you might consider a professional or personal hero?
KRL: What can we expect from you in the future?
Zoe: More books in the Sweetland Witch series (Book 3 A Drop of Witch is to be released on June 21), besides some upcoming new series.
KRL: So many authors say writing is all encompassing, but do you have any favorite movies you like to watch? Any television bingeing? What about music you enjoy or hobbies that take up what free time you may have?
Zoe: I love to watch movies as that’s where I have inspiration and getting ideas to write. I watch movies and drama series. I love listening to music and during my free time, I do Contemporary dancing and pilates.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Zoe: I love to cook, and if opportunity allows, I would like to do a book on a fantasy bakery.
KRL: This has been fun. Is there anything you would like to add?
Zoe: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to allow readers to know more about me!
Thank you, Zoe, for joining us and sharing a little about yourself and your books.
To enter to win an EBOOK copy of Witch Cake Murders, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “witch cake,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 24, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.