This is a brand new series from the author of the The Wishcraft Mysteries. We were fortunate to interview the author, Heather Black (click here.) This new series is centered around a potion making witch in the small southern town that caters to weddings as an industry.
Copyright: November 2013 (Signet) 336 pgs
Series: 1st in Magic Potion Mysteries
Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy
Main Characters: Carly Bell Hartwell, owner of Little Shop of Potions
Setting: Modern day, Hitching Post, Alabama
Obtained Through: publisher for an honest review
Carly finds a local lawyer, Nelson Winston, dead in her potion shop, clutching one of her potion bottles. Then Coach Floyd Butts runs his truck into her house clutching one of her potion bottles, declares loudly she poisoned him and then passes out. These incidents put a serious crimp on her business.
Then she has the man she nearly married, twice, back in town investigating the incidents. To add to her personal life is her rival, cousin Delia, who tends towards hexes where Carly specializes in love potions hounding her for the family secret potion ingredient. Carly has her "witchy sense" to guide her as she begins asking a few questions to help the investigation along while she still has a potion business left. This has the standard cutesy small town with mostly a tourist industry set in the south for a standard cozy mystery. Carly lives in a family house that should be condemned thinking she can renovate the entire house herself.
Carly is conflicted and stubborn, but ethical. Ainsley, BFF and mother to three hellion children is too preoccupied to add to the story much. Sergeant Dylan Jackson is the man Carly almost married twice and is the standard policeman romantic interest. He is her biggest weakness and her biggest fear since she is still healing on that subject. The "Odd Ducks" consist of Carly's Mother - the flamboyant Veronica Fowl - who runs a chapel, Aunt Eulalie, Aunt Hazel, and Aunt Marjie who all three run boarding houses. Because what one of the three sisters does, they all must do whether they all want to our not. They are eccentric with a capital "E." Deceased Grammy Adelaide has left a secret potion ingredient and the family grimoire that is passed down through the generations to only one family member. This is why Carly and cousin Delia are more competitors than typical family. Carly has the secret ingredient and grimoire and Delia desperately wants them. Delia is perhaps the most layered of the characters and is the breakout star.
Hitching Post is a town that survives on weddings as their industry. It was an average small southern town. The plot is average for a debut and cozy. There is the annoying typical chastising of the sleuth to stay out of everything. The pacing significantly picks up in the second half. The climax was eventful and tense, so that was satisfying.
This debut for a new series has many typical and standard elements, from the small touristy southern town to the romantic interest being a policeman. The paranormal elements are soft touches and the book was roughly 65% lite romance, 45% cozy mystery for an enjoyable, albeit predictable, diversion.
Ratings: Good - A fun read with standard cozy elements.