BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: A Spell for Trouble


Title: A Spell for Trouble (An Enchanted Bay Mystery Book One)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Author: Esme Addison

Price: $26.99 (hc) / $12.99 (ebook)

Release Date: 12 May 2020

Aleksandra Daniels is back in Bellamy Bay. With the passing of her father, Alex has decided to seek out what little family she has left: her maternal aunt and her two cousins, whom she has not seen in twenty years. She had planned to spend only a week or two in North Carolina, helping her family with their holistic store -- but then her Aunt Lidia is accused of murder. And her family reveals a shocking history: they are descendants of the Mermaid of Warsaw. And, though they have lost they ability to shapeshift, they have retained their magical abilities. They are, simply, water witches .... Determined to prove her aunt's innocence and to learn more about her abilities, Alex opts to remain in Bellamy Bay. But the investigation takes twists and turns she never anticipated and, when she catches the eye of both Detective Jack Frazier and businessman/witch Dylan Wesley, Alex begins to wonder if she really wants to leave Bellamy Bay and return to New York after all ....

I am always on the look-out for new paranormal mysteries, especially cozy mysteries, so I was excited to download A Spell for Trouble. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I was also left frustrated by several elements of the story.

First, I really like the characters. Alex is just the sort of character a reader can get behind: she's curious, ethical, and loyal. She doesn't let false starts and dead ends get her down; her is determined to prove Lidia's innocence, so matter what. 

I also really like the unusual origin story for Alex and her family. I have never seen a paranormal story with witches who are descended from a mermaid. I'll be curious to see how Addison works mermaid lore (specifically that of the Mermaid of Warsaw) into future volumes. And, considering her relative magical strength, I wonder if Alex will be the witch to regain the ability to shapeshift.

The magic is also neat. As a water witch, Alex can control that element (and, I would guess, any fluid that contains water). She is also telepathic, able to silently communicate with other witches and overhear the thoughts of mundanes. Alex has been afraid of the ocean since her mother drowned when she was a child; but, as the story progresses, Alex begins to see its beauty and power, and I hope that relationship continues to evolve. 

That being said ... cozy mysteries are a tricky thing to write. There has to be a good reason for the main character to be involved in a murder investigation. Alex does have a good reason; several actually, as she becomes convinced that a magic-user was responsible for the murder, and the mundane authorities will have no idea how to handle a magical crime.

That being said, Alex is not a very good amateur detective. She repeatedly goes down the wrong path, makes incorrect assumptions based on incomplete information, backtracks, starts again, and levels accusations based only on hunches instead of relevant evidence. I admired Alex' tenacity, but was frustrated by her constant missteps.

A Spell for Trouble is a fun first volume in a new cozy paranormal series. The characters are engaging and the mythology is unusual. Hopefully, Alex will improve as a detective in future volumes -- and she will make good choices when it comes to her love life.

Recommended to cozy mystery fans, and especially fans of Stephanie Burgis, Gretchen Galway, and Amanda Flowers. 

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Tagged in: magic mermaid mystery witch

Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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