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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.

The Dress Shop of Dreams

The Dress Shop of Dreams - Menna van Praag

I wasn't really aware of magical realism as a (sub?) genre before reading Garden Spells (which I loved) and the premise of The Dress Shop of Dreams is not dissimilar to a mystery series I read, so I was intrigued from the moment I saw it.  Obsidian Blue rated it highly and that was all I needed to buy it myself.


Cora has entombed herself in her science lab, devoting herself to continuing her parents' research and goal of "saving the world" after they are killed in a house fire when she's just a child.  Her grandmother Etta is a dressmaker with some serious witch in her stitch: her dresses and her alterations give back the wearer whatever it is they are missing in life.  Etta decides Cora is missing her heart, and takes steps to help her find it again with rather unforeseen consequences.


This book isn't just the story of Cora: there are a lot of people, all linked one way or the other, in search of pretty much the same thing.  The story is told in third person present tense, alternating among all the players, which felt awkward for me at first, but I found the groove quickly enough.


Generally, I liked the book a lot.  I thought it was well-written and I was really interested in each of the characters.  Some of the outcomes were predictable (most of them...ok, all of them) but I didn't read the book for suspense.  There is a mystery involved in the plot, but thankfully it's not the true focus of the book (mystery readers are not going to be stumped by whodunnit).  I loved the dress shop and the bookshop.  I loved how the dress shop changed colours on its own in time with the seasons, and played music to suit the person shopping.  I liked Etta a lot.


Most of all, I'm thoroughly interested in reading more by this author.  I don't know if I'll go with The House at the End of Hope Street or wait until her next book comes out (mentioned in the back of this book, but I'm at work and can't remember the name of it), but I'm definitely reading more of her work.