Author: Amanda M. Lee
Fantasy > Paranormal > Witches
Fantasy > Urban Fantasy
Mystery > Cozy Mystery
Published/Publisher: March 28th 2013/Createspace Independent Publishing Pages: 242
Format Read In: E-Book
Summary from Goodreads:
*THE FOLLOWING SUMMARY CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK*
Where there’s a witch, there’s a way! Where there’s a whole family of them, there’s trouble.
Bay Winchester, editor of Hemlock Cove’s small weekly newspaper, thinks her small hamlet’s upcoming murder mystery weekend is going to be all about fun, food and frolicking. Instead, when another dead body is discovered in Hemlock Cove, things turn into murder, mayhem and migraines (the latter is mostly thanks to her family, of course). The body belongs to the town drunk – and no one can figure out who would want to kill him, or why. Bay’s investigation is stymied by her new boss, Brian Kelly, and her old flirtation, FBI agent Landon Michaels, both of whom seem to have more than interviews on their mind. When you couple that with her cousin Thistle’s obsession with making their Great-Aunt Tillie pay for the curse she recently put on them (you don’t want to know) and her cousin Clove’s conviction that she is not – no matter what the rest of the family says – a blabbermouth, Bay has her hands full. When the murder investigation takes a turn, though, a long-held Hemlock Cove secret is bound to be exposed. If it is, Bay may find herself in trouble – again – and this is the kind of trouble that she may not be able to find a way out of – even with Aunt Tillie’s help.
“Most of the town knew there was something off about the Winchester women–and many had guessed that were actually witches. Guessing and proving, though, were two entirely different things.” – Bay Winchester; Every Witch Way But Wicked, A. M. Lee
I started reading this book before I realized it was the second in a series, but honestly you don’t need to read the first book to read this one and, I suspect, any subsequent book in this series. The cover above is the cover that I saw attached to this edition of the book and I have to say, I like it a whole lot better than what I suspect is the original cover. I’d also like to give a shout-out to the author for the fun and silly “witch” titles she’s gone with for her books: Any Witch Way You Can, Witching You Were Here, Witching on a Star, etc.
The plot is as simple as most other crime novel: a murder has occurred in the touristic town of Hemlock Cove and our characters try to figure out why the person was murdered and by whom, with the small added twist that the main characters are classic, curses-and-spells-and-potions-and-dancing-naked-under-a-full-moon witches. I would actually argue that the summary on Goodreads is a bit exaggerated. The mystery portion of the story doesn’t get too crazy, though you genuinely don’t know who the murderer is until closer to the end, which I feel is more due to the fact that the author just didn’t write the mystery part of the story well.
Which leads me to my most important note to this story: if you’re looking for a true-blue crime/detective novel with suspense at every corner as the characters uncover clue after clue, you should move right along. I’d be hard-pressed to even throw this book under ‘cozy mysteries’ as even ‘cozy mysteries’ have more semblance to it’s parent genre.
However, does that mean that I didn’t like this book? Absolutely not. In fact, after I got over any expectation that the mystery would be interesting, I found that I enjoyed the book so much that I purposely stopped myself from sitting down and reading it all at once so I could stretch the time it would take for me to reach the end. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, the Winchester ladies are charming and quirky, and the town, as well as the townsfolk, are ridiculously entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the comedy and by the end, during the climax, I realized that the author purposefully constructed the novel so you can’t really take it seriously ’cause you’re really not supposed to. Which you’d think was odd since an actual murder took place, but you almost forget that that had happened. The book doesn’t try to be more than what it is.
Some of the funniest group of people! Bay Winchester is our protagonist, a witch who can see ghosts and a hard-working journalist weighed down by a new bushy-tailed boss who has come from the city after inheriting the local newspaper. The story is told in first-person from her POV and while my feelings towards first-person range from neutral to annoyance, Bay was a hilarious voice and I really loved listening to her inner-most feelings, from her exasperation but tenderness towards her family to her determination to solve the murder mystery. I also adored how little patience she had with her boss’s romantic hints towards her and how little she really thought about her own romantic interests towards Landon; a character after my own heart. Thistle Winchester is Bay’s cousin, a sharp-tongue and quick-witted witch who likes to irk her mother and runs a shop with Clove Winchester, her’s and Bay’s good-natured and gossipy cousin. Then there are Marnie, Twila and Winnie, sisters who partake in the dancing-under-the-full-moon part of witch-hood and the mothers of Clove, Thistle and Bay, respectively. We don’t really see a distinction between their personalities, but we know they’re never far from each other, that they dearly love their daughters even when they frustrate each other, and that they are competing for the affections of the town sheriff. Finally among the Winchester ladies is Aunt Tillie, a powerful witch who is really Bay, Thistle and Clove’s great-aunt but everyone call her Aunt Tillie. She pretty much what you’d expect from old-fashioned witches: crabby, sarcastic, easily offended (and not above replying with curses) and deeply feared by everyone, even though who don’t know that she is a witch. She’s continuously referred to in negative terms, and certainly she can be rather immature in her responses, but when the chips are down, she can be incredibly protective of her nieces and grand-nieces.
And that was part of the beauty of the book, and a major part of why I liked it so much: this strong connection between the Winchester women, this mutual respect and love and loyalty and closeness toppled with the irritation and sarcasm and antagonistic behavior that comes along with being a family who have lived under the same roof for years, all of which was surprisingly refreshing. I could honestly read about these ladies forever and I’d never tire! They’re just that fun!
The side-characters weren’t too memorable in comparison but weren’t awful either. Chief Terry is the police chief of Hemlock Cove, who is pretty lax with the information that he gives to Bay about the murder, though it could be due to the fact that her mother, and her mother’s sisters, vie for his attention with pastries and other treats. Marcus, Thistle’s love interest, was a sweet boy and a pretty calm person to reel in Thistle’s more whirlwind personality. Brian Smith, Bay’s new boss, seemed more like an overly-excited puppy who doesn’t know how to interact with other people and puts his foot in his mouth a lot, despite being called egotistical. Bay can’t seem to trust him and he doesn’t really do anything to provoke this mistrust throughout the novel, but maybe this is foreshadowing for later? Landon Michaels is Bay’s love interest and a charming but stubborn FBI agent who comes back into town just before the murder occurs. As an outsider, it was rather funny to see him utterly confused over why everyone in town seems to brush of the bizarre things that happen, why Terry answers any of Bay’s questions, and why everyone seems to be afraid of Aunt Tillie (oh, you sweet summer child). The ghosts Bay interacts with were humorous but I wish we’d gotten to see them more.
Lee’s exceptionally talented for how she adds so much comedy to so few pages or shorter scenes! I’m glad I found such a fun book! I’m especially glad there are plenty more in the series for me to read!
My Rating: 4/5