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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

One Potion in the Grave (Magic Potion Mystery, #2)

One Potion in the Grave - Heather Blake

I never know how to review Heather Blake's (a/k/a Heather Webber) books.  Describing them ends up making them sound cute or Disney-ish in a Freaky Friday sort of way.  They aren't – well, they are, a little bit.  Cute.  Not Freaky Friday-ish.  But they aren't shallow cozies, nor are they formulaic.  Nobody is going to drown in the emotional depths, but you don't expect that from cozies either; at least, I don't and that's why I read so many of them.

 

Carly is a hereditary witch in Hitching Post, Alabama.  She owns a potions shop that sells oils, soaps, and of course, potions.  Her magic is of the healing variety and is sustained by – and here's where the cute comes in – the collection of dew off of a pair of magic lilies that only bloom once a year.  The legend behind these lilies is cool, but yeah, the whole premise is a bit to darling for my personal tastes.

 

But I do like Carly and her wacky family.  I really like her flip-side-of-the-coin cousin, Delia - the one who didn't inherit the family magic/grimoire/lily tears because she was born second. She opens up a hex shop across the square and sells curses.  Carly's aunts are whack jobs but they don't saturate the story; the author uses them sparingly so they offer levity that doesn't get oppressive. 

 

The setting is very Alabama hick but endearing and cozy.  The vernacular wasn't overly used, but it did occupy that space where as a reader I noticed it for itself.  It would have been more effective for me if it was just used a tiny bit less.  (I'm a Southerner, but I think my eyes would bug out if anyone I was speaking to actually used shoo-ee in a conversation, but I didn't grow up in rural Alabama, so what do I know?).

 

The mystery was clever.  My early thoughts about a character were re-directed during a well-placed scene, only to find out at the end that I had been correct.  Nice diversionary writing. Carly mostly stays away from TSTL decisions too so there was no eye-rolling or talking back to the book.  Wait, I take that back: Carly did jump to one conclusion that was obviously wrong from the start and she wouldn't let it go.  Snap judgements bug me but it seems I liked the rest of the book enough that the memory of it was dulled.

 

Heather Blake/Webber is one of the few currently publishing authors whose books I'd buy sight unseen.  Her writing is always solid, quality story-telling and entertaining to boot.