by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of another fun magic related mystery by H.Y. Hanna, and a short interview with her about the magic in her books. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an EBOOK copy of Witch Summer Night’s Cream or a print copy of another book in the series, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Witch Summer Night’s Cream: Bewitched by Chocolate series by H.Y. Hanna
Review by Kathleen Costa
Caitlyn Le Fey was led to Tillyhenge in the Cotswold countryside in search of information about her past. There she discovered a grandmother, an Aunt Bertha, a cousin Evie, and the shocking revelation that they are all witches, including herself. It’s been slow, but her magical apprenticeship is exciting. While helping her grandmother, Widow Mags, in the Bewitched by Chocolate shop, she is able to test out various techniques and learn how to manipulate chocolate with the most delicious and magical results.
Cousin Evie pops into the shop to help out, but worries about the ‘creepy’ professor in the corner asking probing questions about the local rumors of witches and spells. The professor is eager to find evidence that Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is based on reality and to thumb his nose at his colleagues and gain his ‘fifteen minutes’ or more of fame. But, the afternoon goes awry when one of Evie’s ‘mean girl’ classmates comes in teasing her about her looks and her crush on the young Chris Bottom, emphasizing how he could never be attracted to her. Evie’s lack of self-confidence effects her ability to hold her tongue, “I…I wish Mandy Harper would drop dead!” She will regret that outburst when the police hone in on her as the main person of interest when Mandy Harper ends up dead, outside of the chocolate shop, with a suspicious vial from Widow Mags cupboard in her hands. Will magic save her or is it the root of evil?
YES! I am so engaged in this series which is why I refer to it as one of my top five favorites of all time. It is H.Y. Hanna’s entertaining writing and humor that sparked my interest, but it is the strong and loyal character in Caitlyn, quirky personalities in Widow Mags, Pomona, and Uncle Viktor, hint of romance with handsome Lord Fitzroy, questions about enigmatic Thane Blackmort, and the underlying mystery of who Caitlyn is that makes me drop everything to read, even reread. Additionally, Book 3, Witch Summer Night’s Cream, is extremely creative weaving the premise that a favorite classic, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, is based on reality, that the fairies, the magic, and the love potion really do exist, and that Professor Ruskin believes Tillyhenge, the stone circle, and the forest is that place.
This is not juvenile ‘hocus-pocus,’ but a realistic approach to the idea that magical creatures beyond our perception exist and are delightful, helpful, and even dangerous. The climatic ending is one that will ‘burn’ in your memory! I highly recommend starting the series with Dark, Witch & Creamy, so you don’t miss a single magical clue. There are several marvelous paranormal cozies that I enjoy, but this is the absolute best!
Witch Summer Night’s Cream earns 5+/5 Vials of ‘Love-in-Idleness’ Extract!
Magic…H.Y. Hanna Style:
KRL: Do you find challenges writing a paranormal theme?
Hanna: In one way, yes, mainly because I’m a very practical person and I’m also scientifically trained (my university degree was in Biological Sciences), so my natural tendency is to look for the “logical” explanation or solution to a problem. I love Agatha Christie style puzzle mysteries, and that is what I strive to write. So when I’m plotting a magical mystery, I find that I’m often trying to work out how my amateur sleuth can deduce things or follow up clues, using realistic methods. And then having to remind myself that actually she’s a witch and it’s a magical world, therefore, it doesn’t always have to follow the rules of logic like in the real world! She CAN use a bit of magic to help solve the mystery—haha!
But in another way, it’s very enjoyable as I have always loved myths and legends from a child, so writing a paranormal mystery allows me the chance to weave in many of the ideas that have always captured my imagination. For example, the mystery in the first Bewitched by Chocolate book centers around the legend of the White Stag—which is something that has always fascinated me.
KRL: What research or influences did you rely on to write about witches, magic, and other magical creatures?
Hanna: Well, as I said, a lot of the “research” was already sort of in my head, after a lifetime of being fascinated in myths and legends. I was the little girl who had unicorn posters all over her bedroom walls, was convinced I would see the Loch Ness Monster when I finally visited the famous lake, and still believe in the power of wishes to make dreams come true. However, I did also do extensive research (using books and the internet) for more detailed information on various aspects of witchcraft and magic. For example, I read up extensively on ancient stone circles in the British Isles (the most famous being Stonehenge) as there is a mysterious stone circle near the fictional English village where my series takes place. I wanted to learn about the legends and history associated with the real-life circles.
KRL: Do you have a favorite paranormal story, movie, or television show from your childhood or currently as an adult?
Hanna: Hmm… when I was a child, one of my favorite movies was the animated version of The Last Unicorn, based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle, really a beautiful, haunting film with much more depth than a lot of cartoons and lovely music. And I loved the ideas in the story, about becoming mortal and having known love, the quest for happiness, and being true to yourself, and the suggestion that unicorns are trapped in the sea and come in on the white churning foam of the waves. It’s a very poetic sort of movie. It’s quite dark in places, but I think that’s good—unlike a lot of the very bland films made for children nowadays! The other animated feature I loved was The Flight of Dragons, which had a great theme song! I was fascinated by the idea of a world caught in the battle between Science and Magic. It spoke to me on a personal level as on the one hand, I am very down-to-earth and scientific in my approach to things, but on the other hand, I do still believe in magic in my heart—so there is that constant battle inside me!
KRL: Have you had any experience with magic…or witches?
Hanna: Not witches but magic, well, sometimes things happen which you can’t explain like a wonderful sort of coincidence or “luck,” I guess. It’s nice to think that it could be “magic” instead. The Chinese believe that when you name a child, you bestow a particular “luck” on them—that there is power in a name. That’s why many children are named things to do with fortune and prosperity or beauty (if they are girls). My name, “Hsin-Yi,” translates to “Heart’s Wishes” in Chinese, and it’s supposed to mean that whatever I wish for will come true. I like to think that when I’ve desperately wished for something and it came true, it wasn’t just “luck,” but perhaps a bit of magic from my name too!
To enter to win an EBOOK copy of Witch Summer Night’s Cream or a print copy of another book in the series, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cream,” or comment on this article, and state which you would like to win. A winner will be chosen July 22, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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