Cozy Halloween mysteries are a rabbit hole. If you look up witch cozy on Amazon there are tons of cartoony covered books with the inevitable sexy heroines with their witchy powers solving murders. And the prices are great for the first books, even the audio, because they are trying to hook you with their magic and other forms of wish fulfillment. I want to follow every little hook you into the book series thread and be lost forever, but alas, I have a day job and a a sweet boy.
You will find in these posts I am unable to commit between lighter and darker reads. These books do involve black magic and nefarious characters, but they are decidedly lighter than other books I am reading on Halloweeny topics for this series of posts.
Hex on the Beach (The Magic and Mixology Series Book 1), Gina LaManna
This book violates one of my usual rules of reading, which is that I don’t read books with shoes, handbags, wedding rings, or mixed drinks on the cover. But if you want to combine mixing drinks with magic, well, I can make an exception. I will try many books if I think they might have some good magic in it. (I was like this before Harry Potter, btw).
This book is less mystery than it is world building and building into the rest of the series, of which there appear to be four at this point, all named after drinks. I think it is a very cool idea to combine potions with making drinks in the magical world. There is a mystery, but the book is more about her finding her powers and her family, which seems to be how many witchy cozies open…finding the power, finding the family and/or the new life, rolling in a sweet looking beau that you root for the whole time and know they will end up together but it is fun to see how the author builds tension in the meantime. And there is a big reason why she is being co opted back into the place that she belongs now after years in the regular world, a reason that they hint at but you will have to pick up the rest of the books to find out. Something about the conflict between the human and the magical factions. This is more world building, in my mind, than I usually read in these cozies. I don’t mean setting. They all do well with that, but the actual magical world building. A tropical island in this case. No wish fulfillment there.
My more serious beefs with chick lit, as these unabashedly are, is that the women don’t always have ‘real’ careers and if they do are pathetic in other ways, like they can’t cook or they are ten pounds overweight or something. These women all were competent. This particular heroine was busting to make it in the corporate world. No one really complained about being fat, either. Another plus. And I like the covers. Win.
Any Witch Way You Can (Wicked Witches of the Midwest Part 1), Amanda M Lee
This one is straight up Halloween themed. There are witches, a solstice and a corn maze, all rolled into a town that is intentionally touristy and Halloweeny in the midwest. I admire the author for spinning the setting into the midwest, as setting is so key in these books and the midwest usually does not have the ghostly history or the wish fulfillment element of the other settings, like New England or New Orleans.
This one involves an established family group of witches, mothers and daughters who are enmeshed with grating arguments they have throughout the story, which could get to the point of distracting. There is less finding the power and more worry about what the non magical people in the town will think, which is a different conflict than the books I read for this post. If you like the family sniping and the matriarch that makes you crazy, this is for you. I like that she is also a medium, because ghosts are on the list of my must reads too. Everyone in this family has different powers so they have to work together and I like that.
Interestingly, the motives for the magic and the murder are the same as the motives in a book in the next post I am doing with cozy mysteries with mediums, rather than witches. I don’t mind that. I have read something like 37 Nero Wolfe novels and someday I will post on how this happened, but if I want a mystery where I don’t have everything figured out by the end, I will turn to them. I read these to be entertained, transported, diverted. And these are perfect.
Wisteria Witches, Angela Pepper
Now, I don’t know why a book intended for women needs such intense cleavage/sexuality on the cover. All of them are like this, and it nearly prevented me from buying the book that Amazon led me to from the Facebook ad, but the price was right and I was looking for the third witch cozy in my group. And I didn’t regret it. Facebook has been plopping ads on my feed for Halloween themed books because it works out for them.
This one is a mother and daughter combination who are discovering their witchy family heritage together and getting a fresh start. The conflicts were less grating and more amusing than in Any Witch Way You Can. The possible love interest is mysterious and hunky but not so much as they usually are in these books. He is more, literally and figuratively, the guy next door, and although he reveals his own powers, he is shady about his job. I also like that she is a librarian as her chosen profession, something decidedly un-sexy (with all that boob on the cover, weird). And there is a mysterious reason that she is brought here to be in this town and reconnect with her long lost aunt and experience her manifesting powers.
These are all first in the series books and they all set the stage for one to pick up the next read. I loved them and I will be posting on more cozies as the truly seasonable weather kicks in. As I am writing these I am watching the Canada geese on their bi annual layover on their migration, taking over my lake and my yard in the mist and my son is talking to them as he has breakfast (toaster waffles and a sausage link…I like my kid having the occasional weekday hot breakfast at home) before he gets on the bus.
Briefly, I really do want to read and review The Witches of Eastwick but I have not made it yet. It did not make it last year and it seems like a gross oversight, given my love of John Updike, even if I do get tired of his themes of white affluent couples in New England getting divorced. I don’t know how it will fit in, but I suppose that is part of the fun of reading books to post.
Next week is more cozies, but this time with mediums!