by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a fun trio of brand new paranormal mysteries from Penguin-A Vision in Velvet: A Witchcraft Mystery by Juliet Blackwell, From Fear to Eternity by Michelle Rowen, and Be Careful What You Witch For by Dawn Eastman. Details at the end of this post on how to win copies of all 3, and a link to purchase them where a portion goes to support KRL.
A Vision in Velvet: A Witchcraft Mystery By Juliet Blackwell
Review by Cynthia Chow
As the owner of Aunt Cora’s Closet, a vintage clothing store, Lily Ivory is all too aware of how easy a love of collecting can turn into a hoarding issue, especially when we walks into the crammed but enticing Sebastian’s Antiques store in Jackson Square, San Francisco. She really was ready to pass up a trunk and the unfortunately disintegrating dresses inside when her witchy ability that allows her to sense those who wore the items suddenly kicks in and rather unusually calls out for Lily’s attention.
When she discovers a cape inside that seems to transport her to another time, Lily attempts to find out more about the clothing and the trunk from Sebastian Crowley. However, before she can, Lily discovers him gasping out his last breath – and the word “witch” – at the base of a dying tree the city plans to remove. Since also on the scene is Conrad, a young homeless man who is campaigning to save the tree when he isn’t smoking other more questionable plants, Lily intends to both investigate the history of the trunk, and find out who found it necessary to shoot Sebastian after breaking into his store.
Lily’s charms are not only magical, as she is able to enlist the aid of her boyfriend Sailor, a formerly powerful and very grumpy psychic who is now happier but with weakened abilities. Also on hand is her familiar Oscar, a “gobgoyle” who is half goblin, half gargoyle, and a Vietnamese potbellied pig when in the public. While he may not be helpful as a magic instructor, he has wormed his way into Lily’s heart and when he goes AWOL there’s nothing she won’t do to recover her adorably ugly companion.
As Lily’s powers grow, the fantastical mythology expands but readers will never feel disconnected from the heart of this series, which are ultimately Lily’s friends and family member. Oscar the familiar is definitely one of the family now, and while he hasn’t fully given up his peeping tom inclinations or his addiction to cheesy snacks, Oscar also provides Lily with comfort in her expanding world. The author of the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series continues to blend magic, mystery, and romance in this sixth novel that shines with good humor and a great plot.
From Fear to Eternity By Michelle Rowen
Review by Cynthia Chow
Be prepared for a delightful paranormal twist on the traditional Agatha Christie locked-room mystery in Michelle Rowen’s latest mystery featuring newbie vampire Sarah Dearly and her much-much-much older husband, Thierry de Bennicoeur. While a Hawaiian vacation would not seem to be the ideal honeymoon destination for a pair of vampires, Thierry and Sarah have the ability to tolerate the sun, drink non-hemophilia based beverages, and even see their reflections due to the recent gift of a witch. Their bliss is ended when Thierry receives an anonymous email concerning a djinn-calling amulet that has eluded Thierry for three hundred years, sending the couple off to a gathering of suspects and victims at the sinister mansion residing in…Beverly Hills?
Forced into being a consultant for the shadowy Ring vampire council to protect Sarah, Thierry has had six hundred years to perfect the art of keeping secrets. Great for an investigator, not so fabulous for a husband, especially considering that Thierry’s seven-hundred year old ex-wife just announced that she has penned an erotic memoir. Eww. Even more fateful is the secret of just who is hosting the auction and his reasons for gathering his assorted audience. Sarah should be careful what she wishes for though, as once the reveals begin they will have their hands full with someone spiking blood-addicted Thierry’s drink, Sarah somehow being unable to remember the talking head stuffed in the refrigerator, everyone getting locked in the mansion, a missing djinn, a psychic werewolf who becomes possessed by a witch, their imminent destruction at dawn…
I absolutely adore this series that began as a series of four romance novels but now has evolved into an additional three, An Immortality Bites Mystery books. The characters are just as funny and the dialogue does indeed have a biting (sorry) edge to it, but oddly enough the threat of otherworldly violence succeeds in making the relationships seem even more real and vulnerable. Sarah is no wallflower, and she has grown stronger and become smart enough to trust Thierry and use their bond as a weapon. A strong mythology supports the plot, the writing is clever, and the author has fun exploring her romance writer roots as the characters literally become immersed in Veronique’s memoir. Sarah is truly an admirable and delightful character, and if I couldn’t be her I would definitely want her as my best friend.
Be Careful What You Witch For By Dawn Eastman
Review by Cynthia Chow
For someone who has spent her whole life repressing her psychic visions, one would think that a Wiccan ceremony would be the last place to find Clytemnestra “Clyde” Fortune. This is Crystal Haven, Michigan though, and while pet psychic Aunt Vi might sneer at the Wiccans, she can’t pass up the chance to see a ceremony involving a burning cauldron. That Clyde’s best friend Diana leads the coven further explains Clyde’s presence, but the casting barely begins before anyone can predict that Rafe Godwin would drop dead from a peanut allergic reaction before the end of the ceremony.
When it’s discovered that Rafe died due to peanut oil spread on the bread provided by Diana, suspicion falls not on her but on her hot-headed brother Dylan. Ever since their parents’ death, Dylan believed that Rafe somehow caused their fatal car accident, and Dylan wasn’t shy about expressing his hatred. Clyde is less certain about his guilt, and she uses her experience as a former Ann Arbor police detective to discover that the Wiccan had more than a few secrets, with an anti-Wiccan protest group only complicating matters.
Crystal Haven is a town where the police department is located not next to a bail bondsman office and a pawn shop, but between a bookstore and a palm reader. Clyde has never fully trusted the magic that is so embraced by the town, so when her fourteen year-old nephew lands on her doorstep after running away from New York and his newfound abilities, she can only sympathize with his predicament. Clyde herself fled the town to escape the guilt of being able to see tragedies that she could never prevent, and returned to her hometown only when she felt she could no longer trust her instincts as a police officer. Luckily for Clyde and the reader, she has a large reservoir of good humor and wit, as well as numerous supportive friends, to help her manage her inner conflicts.
There is no shortage of unusual and delightfully humorous characters residing in town, but the author shows impressive restraint in limiting over-the-top behavior. Clyde’s tarot card reading mother and the pet psychic Aunt Vi are still determined to unleash Clyde’s talent, while her father self-defensively ignores most of the chaos by focusing on doomed home-improvement projects. The price paid by those with the skills is never taken lightly and is shown to weigh heavily upon those with the gifts. It’s Clyde’s more mundane activities that tend to get her in trouble, as while she may be secretly dating a homicide detective she also knows that he will have no problem tossing her in jail if she ever goes too far.
The author shows no sign of a sophomore slump in her sequel to Pall in the Family, and readers will find themselves experiencing moments of genuine sympathy and empathy for those very grounded and likable characters. Clyde may be an expert at suppressing her skills and stomping down her emotions, but even she cannot hide her affection for her town, family, and friends in this magical town where basic human vulnerabilities and fear are what may finally drive someone over the edge.
To enter to win a copy of all 3 mysteries, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “trio,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 12, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Click on this link to purchase any of these books & a portion goes to help support KRL!